Race for the Oval OfficeThe ongoing US presidential race appears to be one of the roughest in the history of modern America—one that has been filled with a lot of drama.
The ongoing US presidential race appears to be one of the roughest in the history of modern America—one that has been filled with a lot of drama. As November 8 inches closer, both the candidates—Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton—are making their last-minute campaign pushes to influence the voters. Trump, the real-estate tycoon and a former television celebrity, has a strong backing of the less educated blue-collar white men. On the other hand, Clinton, former secretary of state and first lady, has strong support from the college educated population, women and minorities.
Let’s examine the position of both the candidates on key issues. Both of them have put economic agenda on the top of their priority lists. Trump has an ambitious plan to create an economy that will create 25 million new jobs over the next decade with 3.5 percent of annual growth rate. To bring manufacturing jobs back to the US, he has proposed to impose a tax on those corporations that have relocated to foreign countries. Clinton, too, has a strong economic proposal through investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, clean energy, small businesses, and research and technology. While imposing a tax, she wants to “restore the basic fairness in tax code and ensure that the wealthiest Americans and large corporations pay their fair share, while providing relief to working families.”
Trump has a tough plan on the immigration front. He yearns to establish a new immigration control to “boost wages and to ensure that open jobs are offered to American workers first”. He intends to send back the illegal immigrants in the US regardless of whether they have a criminal background and how much they have contributed to the economy. He has announced to build a wall on the US-Mexico border to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. Clinton, by contrast, aims to introduce “comprehensive immigration reforms with a pathway to full and equal citizenship within her first 100 days in office” and plans to reduce the backlog of family reunification visas or green cards.
Students have always been concerned about the high costs of college education in the United States and want the candidates to address this issue. Bernie Sanders, the democratic challenger to Clinton during the primaries, rode a high wave of popularity among college students with his proposal to make college education free. To assure the college students, Clinton has proposed a debt-free college for all Americans. She also plans to provide “relief for Americans with existing debt by allowing them to refinance their student loans.” Trump, instead, intends to add “an additional investment of twenty billion dollars towards school choice” to the 11 million school-aged children living in poverty.
Clinton, as a former secretary of state is more experienced in dealing with foreign affairs. Her major foreign policy agenda includes taking out ISIS’s stronghold in Iraq and Syria and working with allies to dismantle global terror networks. Likewise, Trump wants to focus on defeating radical Islam and has proposed to suspend immigration from dangerous and volatile regions of the world, especially from Muslim countries.
Though women are at the centre of this election for many reasons, the real issues affecting them have not received adequate attention in the campaigns. Trump does not seem enthusiastic while talking about women’s issues. Worse, he has gained notoriety for insulting and even sexually harassing them. However, he has proposed six weeks of paid leave to nursing mothers and incentives to employers to provide childcare at workplaces.
Clinton has raised a number of women’s rights issues. She wants to close the existing pay gap between women and men. She has also promised paid leave for taking care of sick family members and newborn babies. She has also given significant priority to other women-related issues such as providing affordable and quality childcare, addressing violence against women, protecting women’s health and reproductive rights and promoting women’s rights across the globe.
Clinton has been criticised for using a private email server while she was secretary of state and deleting 33,000 emails. The FBI investigation did not find substantial evidence of any crime, but said it was an act of “extreme negligence” on her part. Clinton has publicly apologised for it.
Clinton’s opponents have also accused her of favouritism towards Clinton Foundation donors during her time as secretary of state. Again, there is no evidence to prove that she took money for personal gains. Similarly, she is censured for her performance as secretary of state because it was during her tenure that four American citizens including the US ambassador were killed in the Benghazi attack in 2012. Trump also blames her for the emergence of ISIS in Iraq as the withdrawal of the US troops took place during her tenure, which created a vacuum and gave rise to ISIS. The nuclear deal with Iran has also been denounced by some of her opponents.
Trump, on the other hand, has been criticised for tax evasion through a tax loophole related to forgiven debts—a loophole that would have allowed him to deduct business losses on his personal income tax return. The New York Times last month revealed a $916 million loss declaration on Trump’s 1995 income tax returns. “A tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income tax for up to 18 years”, the news report states. He has still not released any of his tax statements, becoming the first presidential nominee in the last 40 years not to do so. Clinton has already released her tax statement of over four decades.
Trump’s disrespectful speech and behaviour towards women and minorities including Muslims have made him unpopular among these groups. He also offended a Muslim family, whose son was killed in Iraq while serving in the US army.
In the last few weeks, many women have come forward and accused Trump of sexual harassment. It was expected that the avalanche of the accusations of sexual abuse would sweep him away. But Trump has been denying the allegations saying that they are just a ‘conspiracy’ cooked up by the media and Clinton’s campaign. But in a 2005 video recently released by the Washington Post, Trump can be seen having a vulgar conversation about his sexual behaviour with women. He apologised for it calling it ‘locker-room talk’ and that he deeply respects women in real life. Though these allegations seem to have little effect on his die-hard fans, these voters alone cannot ensure his victory.
With the FBI announcing again to investigate the issue surrounding Clinton’s emails, Trump is closing in on her in national polls. Though this is a serious setback for Clinton, she still has a bigger chance to win as Trump has a lot to catch up in terms of electoral-college votes, which favour Clinton.
Dhital is a US-based freelance journalist