The cases for the candidates
The Case for Hillary Clinton
The 2016 election is not, as so many have suggested, a choice between the lesser of two evils. With the two realistic choices available to voters across the country, only one of them is fit for the presidency: Hillary Clinton. While substantially flawed, Clinton is more progressive than many of her critics give her credit for, offering a real chance for progress. These are not empty words, but facts backed up by over forty years of work.
After being elected in 1992, then-President Bill Clinton named First Lady Hillary Clinton to chair a Task Force National Health Care Reform. Ambitious to a fault, Hillary Clinton outlined a visionary plan to establish universal health care in this country, but the plan failed to garner a vote in Congress. As the Republicans regained control of Congress in the 1994 midterm elections, pundits predicted an end to Clinton’s political career.
But Clinton endured. In 1997, she convinced a Republican Congress to pass the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a program that currently provides health care to over eight million children.
When Clinton launched her first candidacy for president in 2007, she made health care reform a key component to her campaign. In fact, one of the most important distinctions between the Obama and Clinton campaign was their stance on universal health care.
At the time, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman commented that Clinton’s plan was the one that would result in universal health care coverage. In fact, the moment Obama reached the White House; he discarded his own campaign proposals on health care and adopted Clinton’s ideas wholesale, which cumulated in the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s crowning achievement. While the ACA is deeply flawed, it is a step in the right direction. Clinton has promised to reform the legislation and remedy its flaws.
Clinton’s progressive record does not end with health care. As Secretary of State, Clinton has been a champion of the rights of women and the LGBT community. In a December 2011 speech at the United Nations, Clinton stated that “gay rights are human rights,” and pledged to continue America’s work of improving the condition of LGBT people internationally.
Furthermore, as President, Clinton will be a strong advocate for the rights of women. In contrast to her Republican opponent, Clinton supports abortion rights, federal funding for family planning, equal pay for women and paid maternity leave. She strongly opposes Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and believes that corporations cannot use religion as an excuse to deny their female employees access to co-pay free birth control while simultaneously providing their male employees with co-pay free erectile dysfunction medication.
Clinton is admittedly weaker on economic justice, especially when compared to her primary opponent Bernie Sanders. But while Clinton is not as progressive as Sanders, she nonetheless supports increasing the minimum wage, increasing taxes on the wealthy, making college debt free and repairing our broken infrastructure.
In addition, Clinton, like Sanders, supports ending government subsidies to oil, coal and natural gas companies, and investing that money into renewable energy research and development, which will not only create jobs in the short term, but address the growing threat of global warming.
Many critics have suggested that Clinton merely represents the pre-existing Washington establishment that can be bought or swayed with money or votes. Her every move has been examined and criticized, from her actions as Secretary of State to her paid speeches for Wall Street to, yes, her emails.
But the fact is that every politician is constrained by institutional and political realities. Campaigning as a political outsider eight years ago, President Obama proposed a sweeping progressive agenda. He promised, among other things to establish some form of universal health care, repeal the Bush tax cuts for the rich, close the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay prison, restore habeas corpus rights for enemy combatants, develop an alternative to President Bush’s Military Commissions Act on handling detainees, restrict warrantless wiretaps, provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and more.
Obama failed to carry out many of his promises. But this is part of the nature of the presidency. The office has a habit of forcing its inhabitants to the middle. But much of Obama’s success comes from the fact that he holds progressive principles that occasionally break this bubble. The Affordable Care Act, an expansion of rights for the LGBTQ community and more all represent the kind of progress that Clinton could build upon should she win the office.
The history of the progressive movement is not one of continual progress. There are starts and stops, breakthroughs and setbacks. Compromises must be made even if compromise prevents us from going as far as we would like to go. Even our most beloved presidents are not as strong or morally pure as we would like them to be.
It is easy to forget that even the greatest presidents were constrained by forces they could not control. Lincoln did not end racism or prevent segregation. But he did make America a better place. That is the same question we must ask ourselves now. Clinton is not perfect. She is too hawkish on war, and too moderate on taxation and other economic issues. But she has brought progress to our country and has made the world a better place. That is why we must go to polls a cast our ballots for Hillary Clinton.
The Case for Donald Trump
The 2016 presidential race has been, for a lack of better words, a trainwreck. Voters were not given the greatest choices to begin with even back during the primaries, but this election’s worst-case scenario has ended up playing out: Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is faced with Donald Trump, her Republican counterpart.
Trump has garnered most of the headlines in this election, and that has worked to Clinton’s advantage thus far. The media’s portrayal of Trump has made Clinton look like a saint alongside Trump, and although much of that portrayal of Trump is true, it doesn’t quite tell the entire story. While Trump’s various shortcomings have been greatly exposed, Clinton’s flaws have been downplayed and ignored for the most part. Clinton may look innocent next to some of the radical views of her opponent, but her dark history cannot go unnoticed. Citizens need to understand whom they are really voting for before blindly standing “with her” simply because they are turned off by another candidate.
The first red flag should be that there has been an open FBI investigation against Clinton throughout her campaign; this ties back into the email scandal that Clinton has struggled with for the better part of the last two years. Shortly before she was sworn in as secretary of state in 2009, Clinton set up an email server at her home in Chappaqua, New York. She relied on this server for all of her electronic correspondence, both work-related and personal, for her next four years in office. Clinton did not use– or even activate– a state.gov email account, which is the usual procedure for a government official; state.gov email accounts are owned and regulated by the U.S. government.
Clinton’s email situation became a national story in March 2015, when the New York Times ran a front-page article on the subject. The article claimed that Clinton’s email system “may have violated federal requirements” and came as a shock to current and former government archive officials.
Despite all that Trump has done to seemingly help Clinton’s campaign, the email situation has continued to act as a thorn in her side throughout the presidential race. FBI Director James Comey originally released a statement saying that the FBI would not pursue charges against Clinton despite several troubling factors regarding her email server: there was no archive of her emails because she was not using a government account (or even a commercial account such as Gmail), she was using a non-government account to manage classified and top secret emails, and Clinton was negligent in her handling of those classified emails, among other issues. The FBI opened the case again upon discovery of new emails that may be related, but announced that investigation revealed nothing new.
Many have questioned why the FBI, despite appearing to have grounds to press charges and put pressure on Clinton, decided not to do so. Some believe that this is just another example of how Clinton’s corruption has put her above the law.
Clinton has also been accused of an assortment of lies during the 2016 election, some of those also being related to the email scandal. She claimed that Comey’s letter about new developments in the investigation into her emails was only sent to Republican members of the House, while it was, in fact, sent to both Democratic and Republican members. Clinton also said that she never received nor sent any material that was marked as classified on her private email server while she was secretary of state, but the FBI quickly proved that statement wrong.
Another prominent accusation has been the concerns about her health, which her campaign has attempted downplay as much as possible. The rumors date back to 2012, when Clinton suffered a concussion and was prescribed blood thinners to dissolve a blood clot that had developed behind her right ear.
This caused rumors of Clinton succumbing to brain damage to surface, and almost seemed to be confirmed at this year’s 9/11 memorial. Clinton was filmed fainting and then stumbling into a vehicle after leaving the memorial. Her team initially claimed she was suffering from heat exhaustion, but later altered the story to say she had pneumonia.
Trump jumped on this opportunity to suggest that Clinton did not have the “physical and mental stamina” required for the presidency, raising questions about Clinton’s health reminiscent to those that hurt Republican nominee John McCain during the 2008 election. However, physicians have since confirmed that Clinton is in “excellent physical condition” and would be fit to serve as president. Although the health claims ended up not being a great detriment to the Clinton campaign, the strange way that she and her team handled the situation should not go unnoticed.
In an attempt to make herself relatable to voters, Clinton claimed that all of her grandparents immigrated to the U.S. However, a look into her ancestry records revealed this to be untrue; only her paternal grandfather was an immigrant. A Clinton spokesperson said that, since Clinton’s grandparents always talked about “the immigration experience,” she always thought of all of them as immigrants.
While Trump is far from an ideal presidential candidate and has told a share of lies himself — on top of all the other skeletons in his closet that have been revealed throughout the 2016 election — Clinton is far from being a fit candidate herself. She should not be hoisted onto a pedestal because of contrast to her opponent, who she actually isn’t that different from.