Election 2016: A Look at the Candidate’s Policy Stances

This election cycle has been a divisive one, to say the least. Much of the discussion has been focused on the negatives than the positives, and relatively little of it on policy specifics that will actually affect our lives. Those of us who have even moderately kept up with this political race are aware of that. Rather than focusing on the scandals, as well as any other forms of ad hominem attack, I’m going to focus this piece on the issues that impact our lives the most. Straight from the candidates’ platforms themselves. The first two candidates we’ll evaluate surely need little-to-no introduction.

 Donald Trump


Republican party nominee, Donald Trump, has laid out a vision on his website for a range of issues. He has proposed major reforms in the areas of taxes, trade, federal regulatory policies, and energy production. His economic proposals are to “create a dynamic booming economy that will create twenty-five million new jobs over the next decade.” The details of how he envisions doing so are laid out here. Included is an “America-first” trade policy that includes rallying against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as well as a choice between either renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or total American withdrawal from it all-together.

As students, policy surrounding education directly impacts our lives. Trump’s education plan includes a strong emphasis on school choice and states’ rights with their own policies. With precisely $20 billion to be re-prioritized from already existing education funds, he anticipates working with congress on reforms that will ultimately reduce the cost of college and burden of student debts. He wants to “ensure that the opportunity to attend a two or four-year college, or to pursue a trade or a skill set through vocational and technical education, will be easier to access, pay for, and finish.”

One area that directly impacts many of the students on our campus who are parents would be childcare. Trump proposes to provide six weeks of paid maternity leave before the returning to work. Allowing parents to enroll in a tax-free dependent care savings for their children and elderly relatives is also a part of his platform. Finally, he wants to “provide low-income households an Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit – in the form a Childcare rebate – and a matching $500 contribution for their savings accounts.”

Hillary Clinton

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to questions at Rochester Opera House campaign town hall meeting in Rochester

Democratic party nominee, Hillary Clinton, has a five-point economic plan laid out on her website that includes a 100-day jobs plan, a debt-free college initiative, cracking down on American companies who outsource their labor, ensuring that the wealthiest in our country pay their fair share, and updating workforce laws on the books that have been long outdated. A briefing on her website reads: “The experience of our families and the face of our workforce itself have also changed, but our policies haven’t kept pace. Instead of growing together, we’re in danger of growing apart – with too few good-paying jobs, too much inequality, and a lack of basic economic security and fairness for working families.” To read more in-depth about her economic plans, click here.

Clinton’s education plan consists of the option to graduate from a public college or university in their home state without having to worry about taking on a mountain of student debt. Beginning with students from families who make $85,000 or less a year being provided the opportunity to attend a four year public school without having to worry about tuition. By the year 2021, she anticipates extending this opportunity to students from families who make up to $125,000 every year. She also wants to make it to where community colleges (like FRCC) offer free tuition.

Hillary’s plan call for up to twelve weeks paid maternity and medical leave in order to care for a newborn child or loved one who is ill. This includes the ability for one to recover from an illness or injury of their own. According to her website, she intends to do this while imposing “no additional costs on businesses, including small businesses.” Read more about how she intends to do so here.

Gary Johnson


One of the lesser known presidential candidates is Libertarian party nominee, Gary Johnson; former Republican governor of New Mexico. Despite not having as much media attention as the two previous candidates mentioned in this piece, the Johnson/Weld ticket is on the ballot in all 50 states. I’ll begin with his economic vision. His website makes the following statement concerning our federal tax code:

“Today’s federal tax code does all the wrong things. It penalizes productivity, savings and investment, while rewarding inefficiency and designating winners and losers according to political whim.”

Johnson proposes for the complete elimination of special interest tax loopholes, getting rid of the “double-taxation” on small businesses, as well as replacing the income and payroll tax with a single consumption tax which would “determine your tax burden by how much you spend, not how much you earn”. His website claims that this system of taxation would be structured in a way that basic family necessities would not increase one’s tax burden, while the cost of the necessities would “likely decrease with the elimination of taxes already included in the price of virtually everything we buy”.

Like Donald Trump, Gary Johnson also proposes a universally available program for school choice. Because “competition, he believes, will make our public and private educational institutions better.” This also goes hand in hand with his advocacy for state and local government rights over their own education policies, rather than bureaucrats and politicians out of Washington D.C. He and his running mate, Governor William Weld of Massachusetts, emphasize that “the key to restoring education excellence in the U.S. lies in innovation, freedom, and flexibility that Washington, D.C. cannot provide.”

On personal family matters such as abortion, Gary Johnson sees validity in both sides of the discussion. He believes in the sanctity of life. However, he also respects and ultimately sides with the woman’s right to choose; insisting that the federal government is “ill-equipped to answer” the deeply personal questions and concerns that face the families who have to make what decisions are best for them. As a general Libertarian principle, he takes this sort of stance on most issues such as protecting civil liberties established by our constitution. Read more about his stance on individual liberties and freedoms here.

Jill Stein


Green party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, is on the ballot in forty-five states (District of Columbia included) and qualify for write-in status in another three. Meaning that Americans in almost every state are able to cast a vote for the Stein/Baraka ticket by November 8th. This is a ticket that focuses on environmental, social and economic justice, and human rights concerns.

On her website, she lays out a ‘Power to the People Plan’ of action which includes her Green New Deal; in which, she specifies her vision to “Create millions of jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, and conservation.” She’s also fighting for a $15/hour federal minimum wage, breaking up the “too-big-to-fail” banks, and “democratize the Federal Reserve”.

Concerning matters of education, she hopes to “abolish student debt to free a generation of Americans from debt servitude” by guaranteeing tuition-free, world-class public education from the preschool level, all the way through the university level. She also wishes to end high stakes testing and public school privatization.

Dr. Stein is a physician who has co-authored books, appeared on media outlets as a health and environment expert, and co-founded organizations such as the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities in 2003. She has demonstrated a strong concern for healthcare reform throughout her political and professional careers. If she were president, she would anticipate establishing a “Medicare For All” single-payer public health insurance to provide everyone in the country access to affordable healthcare. Learn more about her plan here.

In conclusion, each of these candidates comes from very different backgrounds that have shaped their views and proposals concerning policy that will collectively affect each of our lives for years to come. It is important that we vote our conscious and ensure that our voices are heard. Former U.S. president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, once said in a message to teachers and patrons of American schools, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” We should learn about what each of these candidates has to offer before making the decision to hire them to run our country.

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