Issue Report: Clinton v. Trump

What are the candidates’ platforms and arguments?

In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump emerged as their parties’ respective nominees. Donald Trump’s candidacy has been characterized by tough talk, a brash style, and campaign policies such as: building a wall on the U.S. Mexico border, putting “America First” in international politics (with somewhat unilateral approaches to foreign policy), rearranging such alliances as NATO and forcing traditional allies to pay for such things as their own nuclear arsenals and protection, renegotiating trade deals, and cutting taxes across the board. Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is characterized by 30 years of experience in public service, progressive policies on immigration (including comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants), gay rights (supporting gay marriage), abortion (she’s pro-choice), and a foreign policy that is based largely on diplomacy and cooperation with foreign leaders and international organizations. Regardless of their policy positions, the campaign has been characterized by character and judgment questions: first, regarding Trump’s Access Hollywood sex tape, where Trump spoke of groping women, and second, with Hillary Clinton’s private email server and the FBI’s re-opening of the investigation in connection with emails found on the accounts of Anthony Weiner and his wife Huma Abedin, an aide to Clinton.The pros and cons of these two candidates are considered below.

Character and fitness: Which candidate has the better temperament to be President?

Clinton demonstrated grit and grace over 30-years of service.

Meryl Streep said at the Democratic National Convention in the summer of 2016

Hillary Clinton has taken some fire over 40 years of her fight for families and children… How does she do it? That’s what I want to know. Where does she get her grit and her grace? Where do any of our female firsts, our path breakers, where do they find that strength?

Trump is temperamentally unfit to be President.

Against Donald Trump,” The Atlantic Editorial Board, November 16, 2016

His affect is that of an infomercial huckster; he traffics in conspiracy theories and racist invective; he is appallingly sexist; he is erratic, secretive, and xenophobic; he expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself. He is easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America’s nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.

Trump’s sexual comments and indiscretions show moral turpitude.

Donald Trump’s statements, particularly those from a 2005 video, appear to indicate that he objectifies women, sexual assaults them, and engages in extramarital affairs. These statement include: “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the p****. You can do anything… I did try and f*** her. She was married.

The U.S. needs a female president now.

“The case for Hillary Clinton, by a Bernie voter,” The Washington Post, June 9, 2016

For 270 years, maleness and whiteness was an implicit prerequisite for president. Wanting to vote for a woman candidate isn’t sexist; it’s an act of undoing sexism. It’s a way to symbolically support the equality of women everywhere while substantively putting into office a candidate who personally understands the needs of half of the population who have heretofore not been represented in the White House.

Trump’s claim that election is rigged threatens U.S. democracy.

Stephen Collinson, “Why Trump's talk of a rigged vote is so dangerous,” CNN, Oct 19, 2016

The Republican presidential nominee’s claim that the election is being rigged against him represents the most outlandish moment yet in a campaign devoted to dismantling political norms…Trump’s claim three weeks before Election Day — as many voters are already going to the polls — that the race is being deliberately stacked against him by a fearful political establishment flies in the face of historical precedent. And should he lose, it threatens the legitimacy of those left to govern after the most anarchic election in modern history.

Bill Clinton’s affairs cannot be counted against Hillary.

Lauren Raymond, “It’s really, really sexist to blame Hillary Clinton for Bill’s infidelity,” Think Progress, Sept 27, 2016

If Trump’s infidelity doesn’t disqualify him from office, and Giuliani’s infidelity doesn’t disqualify him from political prominence, it’s unclear why Clinton’s husband’s infidelity should disqualify her.Nonetheless, instead of attacking the man who was unfaithful, Giuliani is blaming Hillary Clinton for decisions that her husband made — and suggesting that she’s stupid for being transgressed against.

Trump is a strong leader, something the U.S. needs now.

Sheldon Adelson, “I endorse Donald Trump for President,” Washington Post, May 13, 2016

You may not like Trump’s style or what he says on Twitter, but this country needs strong executive leadership more today than at almost any point in its history. The world is less secure than ever, and our allies have lost confidence in our ability to lead. The economy is not growing the way it should. The middle class is finding it harder and harder to get by.

Trump’s lack of political correctness is a virtue, not a vice.

Chris Collins, “The Case for Donald Trump,” New York Times, April 15, 2016

His lack of political correctness shows that he is independent and understands the things people care about. Unlike career politicians who take policy positions based on their fear of losing elections or angering deep-pocketed special interests, Mr. Trump is accountable to no one but the voters.

While Trump isn’t morally perfect, Hillary is even worse.

Donald Trump for President,” Las Vegas Review-Journal Editorial Board, October 22, 2016

Yes, Mr. Trump’s impulsiveness and overheated rhetoric alienate many voters. He has trouble dealing with critics and would be wise to discover the power of humility. But neither candidate will ever be called to the dais to accept an award for moral probity and character. And we are already distressingly familiar with the Clinton way, which involves turning public service into an orgy of influence peddling and entitlement designed to line their own pockets — precisely what a disgruntled electorate now rises up to protest.

Clinton’s errors demonstrate bad judgment.

Bernie Sanders said in early 2016 during the Democratic Primary election process,“She may have the experience to be president of the United States. No one can argue that. But in terms of her judgment, something is clearly lacking.” He pointed her getting money from Wall Street, voting for the Iraq War in 2003, and backing free trade agreements as illustrations of what he thought was her bad judgement.

Clinton’s paid speeches show she’s beholden to special interests.

Jason Fuller, “Hillary Clinton may have experience but she lacks judgement,” Huffington Post, April 4, 2016

since 2001, both Bill and Hillary Clinton have given a combined total of over 700 speeches, in particular to banks such as the afore-mentioned Goldman-Sachs, UBS, Morgan Stanley, and Deutsche Bank. Collectively, she raked in a cool $1.8 million from just these speaking engagements; in total, the Clintons have earned nearly $8 million from speaking engagements — an average of over $200,000 per speech! How can we trust President Hillary to work to curtail the shadiest practices of America’s big banks when she herself is one of their biggest beneficiaries?

The Clinton sex scandal reflects poorly on Hillary.

Rudy Giuliana said in an interview: “After being married to Bill Clinton for 20 years, if you didn’t know the moment Monica Lewinsky said that Bill Clinton violated her that she was telling the truth, then you’re too stupid to be president.”Donald Trump has also accused Hillary of being an “enabler” and that Hillary “failed” to prevent her husband’s indiscretions.

Experience: Which candidate has the superior experience to be President?

Clinton has 30 years of experience in public service.

As a first lady, Senator, and Secretary of State over more than two decades, she operated at the highest levels of US government and knows the levers of foreign and domestic policy better than virtually any candidate for President.And in her early professional life as an attorney, she defended children, worked on President Nixon’s impeachment investigation, taught law in Arkansas,and started a legal aid clinic. As first lady, she lead an effort to reform healthcare and immigration law and defended women’s rights on the world stage (She famously said to the United Nations, “let it be that women’s right are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights, once and for all.”)

Hillary is the most qualified candidate to ever run.

Against Donald Trump”, The Atlantic Editorial Board, November 2016

Hillary Rodham Clinton has more than earned, through her service to the country as first lady, as a senator from New York, and as secretary of state, the right to be taken seriously as a White House contender. She has flaws (some legitimately troubling, some exaggerated by her opponents), but she is among the most prepared candidates ever to seek the presidency. We are confident that she understands the role of the United States in the world; we have no doubt that she will apply herself assiduously to the problems confronting this country; and she has demonstrated an aptitude for analysis and hard work.

Trump has no record of service qualifying him for President.

“Against Donald Trump”, The Atlantic Editorial Board, November 2016

Donald Trump… has no record of public service and no qualifications for public office.

Trump mismanaged much of his business affairs.

Kurt Eichenwald, “Donald Trump’s Many Business Failures, Explained,” Newsweek, August 2nd, 2016

Lost contracts, bankruptcies, defaults, deceptions and indifference to investors—Trump’s business career is a long, long list of such troubles, according to regulatory, corporate and court records, as well as sworn testimony and government investigative reports. Call it the art of the bad deal, one created by the arrogance and recklessness of a businessman whose main talent is self-promotion…Trump is rich because he was born rich—and without his father repeatedly bailing him out, he would have likely filed for personal bankruptcy before he was 35.

Trump’s executive experience as CEO ideal for Presidency.

Sheldon Adelson, “I endorse Donald Trump for President,” Washington Post, May 13, 2016

In my view, a governor of a state is ideally qualified to be president. A governor is a state’s final decision maker — its chief executive and steward of the public’s money. I felt strongly that someone with that level of CEO experience would be well-trained for the job of president.It turns out that is exactly what we are getting in Trump. He is a candidate with actual CEO experience, shaped and molded by the commitment and risk of his own money rather than the public’s. He is a CEO success story that exemplifies the American spirit of determination, commitment to cause and business stewardship.

Trump can apply business experience to benefit economy.

Chris Collins, “The Case for Donald Trump,” New York Times, April 15, 2016

Over the past several decades, Mr. Trump has built a family business into a network of highly successful enterprises. One of the many reasons Americans are rallying behind him is his record of success and commitment to taking the lessons he’s learned to the White House. When he talks about being a president who would create jobs, win negotiations and stand up to enemies, people believe him because he has done it before.

U.S. needs an outsider like Trump to make real change.

“Donald Trump for President,” Las Vegas Review-Journal Editorial Board, October 22, 2016

More and more Americans express frustration and disillusionment today with the political institutions that govern the nation. They clamor for an alternative to the incestuous and pernicious atmosphere dominating the capital… Yet Hillary Clinton promises to lead us down the same path. She’ll cuddle up to the ways and perks of Washington like she would to a cozy old blanket.Mr. Trump instead brings a corporate sensibility and a steadfast determination to an ossified Beltway culture… Mr. Trump represents neither the danger his critics claim nor the magic elixir many of his supporters crave. But he promises to be a source of disruption and discomfort to the privileged, back-scratching political elites for whom the nation’s strength and solvency have become subservient to power’s pursuit and preservation.

Clinton has experience, but it’s bad experience.

Donald Trump has frequently argued“Hillary has experience, but it’s bad experience.” He points to the rise of ISIS, instability in Libya, the Iran nuclear deal, and Clinton’s inability to pass healthcare reform in the 90s.

Foreign policy: Whose foreign policy platform is better for the country?

Hillary Clinton is a steady stateswoman trusted globally.

Michael O’Hanlon, “State and the Stateswoman: How Hillary Clinton Reshaped U.S. Foreign Policy – But Not the World,” Brookings, January 29, 2013

some of the most important and enduring elements of the Clinton years—steadiness and pragmatism coupled with a reinvigoration of ties with Europe and the so-called rebalancing with Asia—are clear. For style and for collegiality, Clinton gets high marks…diligence paid off. Gaffes were rare, and she never embarrassed allies with a failure to understand the constraints binding them; there were few public trip-ups of the kind that haunted the Reagan administration’s early efforts on missile defense, the Clinton administration’s dealings with allies over Bosnia, or the George W. Bush administration’s handling of the war in Iraq.

Trump does not have a coherent foreign policy.

Donald Trump, essentially, has simply indicated that he would be tough enough to sock it to him,” said Richard Lugar, a former Indiana senator who chaired the foreign relations committee and now leads a think tank devoted to global leadership. “There’s not a great deal of analysis [and] almost none at all for the complexities.” And Paul Saunders, executive director of the Center for the National Interest, said, “He appears to have a number of strong instincts that have not yet crystallized into a comprehensive world view.

Trump policy views are nationalist, isolationist, unilateralist.

Elliot Abrams, a Middle East expert and former national security adviser to George W. Bush, said Trump’s foreign policy would “destroy the greatest single asset we have, which is our alliance structure.” Indeed, Trump has contemplating breaking up NATO, acting unilaterally in global affairs, and pursuing an America First foreign policy that smacks of American-centric pride and exceptionalism.

Trump admires Putin’s authoritarianism.

Eliot A. Cohen, a senior State Department official under President George W. Bush, said in July, 2016: “It’s not just demagoguery. It’s an appeal for a certain kind of dictatorship.”

Trump is too volatile to be trusted with nuclear codes.

Ten former nuclear launch control officers wrote in an open letter opposing Donald Trump

Donald Trump should not be the nation’s commander-in-chief. He should not be entrusted with the nuclear launch codes. He should not have his finger on the button. He has shown himself time and again to be easily baited and quick to lash out, dismissive of expert consultation and ill-informed of even basic military and international affairs — including, most especially, nuclear weapons.

Trump would overturn nuclear non-proliferation.

Sam Kleiner, “With his finger on the trigger,” The Atlantic, June 3, 2016

A nuclear-armed Trump is indeed a scary thought. But his apparent comfort with encouraging other countries to develop their own nuclear stockpiles is just as scary, if not more so. For 70 years, American presidents of both parties have understood the simple arithmetic involved—that the more countries have nuclear weapons, the more opportunities there are for nuclear war to break out, whether by design or by accident.Yet the Republican nominee is effectively advocating the spread of arms so destructive they haven’t been used since their horrifying debut over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Building a wall on the Mexican border is un-American.

Enrique Morones, “Building a wall at the border would divide us,” The Hill, May 3, 2016

Historically, walls, such as those in Berlin and China, have symbolized divisiveness and repression. The proposed wall along our southern border would only serve to deepen an ugly chasm, dividing neighbors who work and live together in the U.S. Some believe in building walls, but Border Angels believes in building doors.In addition to remarking that the United States would be ‘better off’ if nations like South Korea and Japan had nuclear weapons, Trump also seemed open, in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, to the possibility of Saudi Arabia, too, getting the bomb.

Trump will project unyielding power and strength abroad.

Jeff Jacoby, “The Obama Doctrine has made the world more dangerous,” Boston Globe, April 17, 2016

Since 2009, America’s credibility has been badly eroded and the world has become far more dangerous and unstable…even now, Obama cannot see that a doctrine premised on avoiding American involvement in the world’s conflicts is bound to fail. A policy built around US disengagement only intensifies global disorder… By the time Obama took office, Al Qaeda in Iraq was crippled, attacks were down 90 percent, and Iraq was being governed by democratically elected politicians… But none of that led Obama to question the wisdom of pulling all US forces out of Iraq, or to heed warnings that the swift disappearance of tens of thousands of American peacekeepers would leave a catastrophic vacuum that the region’s deadliest forces would rush to exploit.

Trump does have a coherent “America First” foreign policy.

Nate Jara, “Stop pretending Trump doesn’t have a coherent foreign policy,” Huffington Post, May 11, 2016

Trump’s foreign policy is very distinctly Jacksonian and nationalistic. He’s skeptical about foreign aid and general do-gooding. He’s suspicious of government elites and the bipartisan foreign policy orthodoxy. He questions the value of permanent, defensive alliances. He opposes interventions that prop up the international order and has little regard for international laws and norms. He believes that when dealing with people that fight dirty, like ISIS, you fight fire with fire. And above all, Trump’s foreign policy is predicated on a deep sense of national honor, respect, and prestige.

Trump will take hard stance against illegals, including wall.

Trump’s immigration plan contains five key points

1. Build a fence, deploy 25,000 additional border agents, utilize Predator drones, 2. Enforce immigration law, 3. Eliminate cozy detention center, 4. Oppose the DREAM Act, which supports young undocumented immigrants, 5. Opposes tuition benefits to undocumented immigrants.

Trump will deport illegals and force them to apply legally.

Trump said in the 2016 campaign:“For those here today illegally who are seeking legal status, they will have one route and only one route: to return home and apply for re-entry under the rules of the new legal immigration system.”

Trump will make trade deals fairer for American workers.

Chris Collins, “The Case for Donald Trump,” New York Times, April 15, 2016

[Trump’s] demand that foreign countries stop cheating on international trade is especially welcome in Western New York, a region devastated by the North American Free Trade Agreement and other poorly negotiated trade deals.

Clinton/Obama allowed vacuum for ISIS to emerge.

Fred Fletz, “Yes, Obama and Clinton Are Responsible for the Birth of ISIS,” NewsMax, August 12, 2016

The Obama/Clinton decision not to leave behind a small contingent of U.S. troops in Iraq after 2010 and the power vacuum created by the administration’s failure to lead in the Middle East is why ISIS exists and why it has become a global threat. In my view, Obama’s and Clinton’s incompetence are undoubtedly responsible for the birth of ISIS.

Obama and Hillary made the world more dangerous.

Chris Christie said in July, 2016:“We cannot promote someone to commander in chief who has made the world a more violent and dangerous place.” He listed the rise of ISIS, the overthrow of Libyan dictator MoammarGadhaffi and vacuum created there (including the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi), keeping Boko Haram off the terrorist watch list, the Iran nuclear deal, setting up her own private server to use while secretary of state, and the release of some top secret government information.

The nuclear deal with Iran gave up too much.

David Jonas, “Five reasons why the Iran nuclear deal is still a really bad idea, War on Rocks, October 14, 2015

It is unusual for American negotiators to work so diligently, yet obtain an agreement that we would be better off without. Why, you ask? First, the deal provides international legal cover for Iran that will expedite its quest for nuclear weapons. Second, the United States will not know precisely when Iran possesses nuclear weapons unless it tests them. Third, the JCPOA should have been a treaty requiring Senate advice and consent rather than an executive agreement. Fourth, the most important commitment in the agreement is placed in such a manner that it would be irrelevant even if the agreement were legally binding. And finally, Iran freely violates treaty obligations, so will not likely observe a mere political commitment. Let’s go over each of these in more detail.

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