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Aug 08 2016
by Amelia Brady

A Crash Course in Recent Politics

By Amelia Brady - Aug 08 2016
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It can be especially hard for young people to follow politics because we haven’t lived through the issues that are being discussed. Most of us haven’t been directly affected by the scandals and events that help shape the political landscape that we face today. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some important issues that affect this presidential race with the hope that it helps you choose the candidate you truly feel is best for the country.

(For more unbiased, truthful information, visit Politifact,  AllSides,  or Politico.) 

First, let’s look at some vocabulary:

Political party: a political party is a group of voters organized to support certain public policies. The aim of a political party is to elect officials who will try to carry out the party's policies.

Primaries: A primary is a process in which voters from each party vote for who they think should be the party’s official candidate for President (for example, Barack Obama won the Democratic Primary in 2008 and moved on the the General Election).

General Election: The actual presidential election (For example, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney competed in the General Election in 2012, with Obama winning and becoming President).

Platform: A party’s platform is a list of the official beliefs of the party and what they want to work toward. 

Second Amendment: an amendment to the Constitution that protects the right to bear arms (carry guns and weapons).

An Overview of both parties:

Republican: 

Wikipedia

The Republican Party has been in existence since Abraham Lincoln. It is also referred to as the GOP, or Grand Old Party. The policies supported by Republicans are usually conservative, both economically and socially. In general, this party is in favor of lower/simpler taxes, a strong military, protection of Second Amendment rights, traditional marriage (between one man and one woman), and a small government.

Here is a link to the Republican Platform. 

Democratic: 

Wikipedia

The Democratic Party is more liberal in its policies. This party is in favor of progressive taxes which tax the rich more than the poor, a larger government, marriage equality, an increase in the minimum wage, etc.

Here is a link to the Democratic Platform. 

A Brief Look at the Candidates

Hillary Clinton, Democrat: 

Hillary Clinton has been involved in politics since the early 1970s, and has had a major influence in the government. She has served as the First Lady, a senator, and Secretary of State. She is a "progressive who gets things done" and is the first woman to win the presidential nomination from a major political party.

Her positions on important issues:

Immigration: Wants to create an easier path for people to become citizens, wants more humane treatment of people attempting to cross the border, wants to keep mixed-status families together.

Abortion: pro-choice (believes that a woman should be able to choose whether or not to have an abortion).

Gun control: Is in favor of stricter regulations and background checks.

Taxes: Wants to increase taxes on the rich and decrease taxes for the poor.

Gay marriage: Pro-marriage equality.

Social Security and Medicare: Wants expansion of both through an increase in taxes on wealthy Americans and will fight attempts to privatize.

For more specific information, visit OnTheIssues.org.

What are her opponents saying?

Benghazi: To oversimplify, there was a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya that fell under attack, resulting in the deaths of four American diplomats. Previous requests for more security were not adequately responded to and no extra aid was given to the diplomats requesting more protection. Clinton, who was serving as Secretary of State at the time, is believed by some to be responsible for this tragedy.

Email Scandal: Public officials are given secure email servers and are instructed to use only these email servers when dealing with work-related communications. Clinton used her personal email server to discuss government-related issues, some of which contained secret information. Clinton allegedly deleted thousands of emails when faced with an inquiry into her use of her own private email server. Some see this as a national security risk because the emails were easily hacked and were not secured through the U.S. government.

Some also accuse Hillary Clinton of corruption in government because much of her PAC money comes from corporations and very wealthy individuals. This can be a negative aspect of her campaign because some see it as evidence that she can be bought by corporate interests.

What are her proponents saying?

Her supporters believe she will help lead the country into a more progressive age. Many believe that her extensive government experience and liberal stance on many issues make her a better option than her political rivals.


Donald Trump, Republican:

Trump is a billionaire real-estate developer and a reality TV personality. He is seen as a great businessman. He is a conservative and is running with the slogan, “Make America Great Again.” Many view him as the new Ronald Reagan (for a summary of Reagan’s presidency, follow this link to WhiteHouse.gov).

His positions on important issues:

Immigration: Wants to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexican border to keep out undocumented immigrants, as well as ban Muslims from entering the U.S. from violent countries for fear of terrorism.

Abortion: Pro-life

Gun control: Is opposed to strict regulations and is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment.

Taxes: Wants to deregulate businesses, lower taxes for middle-class Americans, and create a simpler tax structure.

Gay marriage: Pro-traditional marriage between one man and one woman, but believes it should be the states’ decision.

Social Security and Medicare: Has not given extensive stance on these issues, but has implied that while he does not agree with them on principle, he will not change them.

For more specific information, visit OnTheIssues.org.

What are his opponents saying?

Many people are of the belief that Trump is unfit to be president because he makes what they see as offensive or immature comments. He has allegedly implied that Mexican immigrants are rapists and has allegedly made sexist comments.

What are his proponents saying?

Trump supporters believe that Trump will do away with government corruption and waste. They also believe that, because he is not concerned with being “politically correct,” he will not be afraid to stand up to enemies both within the country and without. They also think his policies will benefit the economy and keep America a world superpower.

If neither of these candidates appeal to you, there are third party options, including Jill Stein of the Green Party and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party. To find out more about third party candidates, visit these links:

Jill Stein On The Issues 

Jill Stein’s website 

Gary Johnson On The Issues 

Gary Johnson’s Website 

Remember, the truth in politics is usually somewhere in the middle. Much of the media coverage is controlled by corporate interests and, depending on which channel or news outlet you watch, you could get completely different information.

Keeping this in mind, it’s important to look at the facts and decide which candidate most closely lines up with your personal views on how the government should be run. Remember to vote and make informed decisions! Also remember to vote in your local and state elections, as well as congressional elections. Real change only happens when informed voters make it happen.

Lead Image Credit: Pexels.com 

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Amelia Brady - American University

Amelia will be a freshman at University of Vermont in 2016!

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