Clinton v Trump: Battle of Policies

01 November 2016

Summer 2012: the build up to the election was one of disillusionment, widespread poverty, pervasive economic trouble, and exacerbated inequality. The battle was Obama v Romney. Fast forward four years and here we go again… This time, the battle is Clinton v Trump. 

The main differential in any political election comes down to policies. So how do the candidates differ?


The economy is the first of the three main battlegrounds, with the two key clashes being taxes and employment.

Clinton wants to increase taxes on the wealthy and fund free university programmes for low- and middle-income families. Trump wants to reduce the number of income tax brackets and cut corporate taxes from 35% to 15%.

Clinton aims to create 10 million jobs through manufacturing, renewable energy, and small business investment. The goal is to improve employment rates and expand American infrastructure simultaneously. Trump plans to create 25 million jobs and increase American infrastructure investment; he is yet to explain how to achieve this.

Foreign Policy

The second great battleground lies with foreign policy. The 'war on terror' and trade deals have become prominent dividers during the campaign.

Clinton plans to expand America's role in fighting IS, but opposes commitment of ground troops. She supports American involvement in NATO and wants to escalate counter attacks against Russia. Clinton also proposes increasing numbers of resettled Syrian refugees in America. Trump wants more ground troops fighting IS and greater western powers' commitment to combatting terrorism. He believes that admitting Middle-Eastern refugees will seriously threaten American security, so an 'extreme' vetting process, including ideological testing, is necessary. Trump has also called for a wall to be built on the USA- Mexico border, funded by Mexico.

Clinton wants to openly trade with the rest of the world, but opposes the current formulation of the TPP. Trump intends to put American interests at the heart of trade deals. He opposes the TPP, but is willing to renegotiate on NAFTA if American interests can be met. Trump plans to tax Mexican goods at 35% and Chinese good at 45%.

Domestic Policy

Domestically, abortion and law and order have gained prominence due to America's long history of unrest threatening domestic stability.

Clinton opposes abortion bans after 20 weeks and wants greater federal funding for abortion services to rape victims. She criticises efforts to cut government funding for women's health efforts. Trump believes abortion should be illegal. His statement on the punishment of women having abortions was quickly retracted. Trump has settled for advocating an abortion ban exception for rape, incest, and life of mother.

America is experiencing high levels of gun crime and racially motivated killings. Clinton opposes mass incarceration and mandatory minimum sentences, believing police racial bias must be addressed. She also wants tighter background checks on gun licences and a ban on assault weapons. Trump believes political correctness has hindered the ability to fight crime, and that police profiling prevents terrorism. Trump endorses licensed gun owners carrying a concealed weapon at their will.

The candidates differ greatly in their policies. For consideration of how some of the policies may be implemented, look out for Robert Paine's post later in the series where he considers the future of America under the potential elected President.

The American people have a tough choice to make on 8 November. Clinton could become America's first female President. Trump could become America's oldest President. The margin of victory may be closer than Brexit. The big question: who will win? 

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