Given the changing dynamics of the global order, the US presidential election 2016 has gained wider attention not only from domestic quarters but also from the world over. From the presidential campaign and the debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton one can get idea what each of them wants to do after entering the White House as 45th President of the United States.
Here are respective standings of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on key issues faced by the US and the world at large.
At present, some 42 million immigrants live in the United States, and the roughly one-fourth of them who are here illegally have created one of the greatest quandaries facing lawmakers. How the next president tackles immigration could reshape the country’s demographic, social and economic landscape.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both have taken opposite roads on their quest for immigration reform. Trump calls for mass deportations, migrant bans and a wall to keep away people from coming into the country, while Clinton wants a pathway to citizenship, immigrant integration and protection from deportation. Trump and Clinton both say they favour secure borders, but in every other respect they are at odds over how they’d tackle key immigrant issues. Experts on both sides of the debate cast the candidates’ proposals as radical, arguing Trump is overtly anti-immigrant while Clinton is too lax on policies.
Trump’s plans to change US immigration policy have become his signature campaign proposal. He earlier promised to build a wall along the Mexican border and have Mexico pay for it as Mexican immigrants were “murderers and rapists” to him. He also pledged to deport the 11 million or so immigrants present in the US illegally and called for a ban on immigrants seeking refuge from terrorism in their native countries. He also called for completely banning Muslims from entering the US after the San Bernardino, California, terrorist attack. Moreover, he wants to stop granting citizenship to those born on US soil to foreign parents, and favours subjecting those who overstay visas to criminal penalties.
However, he had softened these stances. In mid-August, he suggested that a Trump administration would work with some immigrants who paid back taxes so they could stay in the country, and added that it would be difficult to deport millions of immigrants.
Portraying herself as a strong supporter of immigrant rights, Hillary Clinton has pledged to create the first national office of immigrant affairs. She wants to continue and expand upon President Obama’s unilateral executive actions normalising the immigration status of long-term undocumented residents of the US and their families. She also wants to enact an immigration overhaul that would create a pathway to citizenship.
Clinton’s campaign website promises that she will provide “a pathway to full and equal citizenship within her first 100 days in office.”
She has called for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a means for undocumented immigrants to obtain permanent legal residency and, eventually, the US citizenship. She opposes privately-run detention facilities and has said a wall is a “dumb way” to ensure border security.
Past presidential elections have often brought speculation about the importance of foreign policy in the debate but it is rarely a determining factor in how people vote. But this election comes at an inflection point for the US and beyond the specifics of policies on the Middle East or China, the general theme of America’s role in the world has been on the mind of deeply anxious voters.
Hillary Clinton is a foreign policy realist and she thinks the purpose of American foreign policy should be to adjust the foreign policies of other countries, work closely with traditional allies in Europe and Asia toward that end. During her tenure as a US senator and as Secretary of State, Clinton has earned a reputation as a foreign policy hawk. She supported the US war in Iraq and was one of the leading Obama administration advocates for the US air campaign in Libya. She has called on the US to take on an expanded role in fighting the so-called Islamic State in Syria, including the imposition of a no-fly zone and arming Syrian rebels, although she says she opposes the commitment of ground troops. She also supports a continued US military presence in Afghanistan.
Hillary Clinton is more suspicious, clearly tougher on Russian policy in Ukraine, Georgia, Syria; more willing to support sanctions; not against negotiating with Putin.
Donald Trump, by contrast, is much more suspicious of international institutions; much more sceptical of the contributions that America’s traditional allies have made; more willing, in some cases, to entertain the possibility of getting along with countries who some would call an adversary, such as Russia. But also, he espouses elements of realism in his criticism of things like the 2003 Iraq War and in his criticism of the Libya intervention, both of which Hillary Clinton supported; a little bit more sceptical about ambitious American projects overseas.
He says the US must make allies in Europe and Asia shoulder a greater share of the expense for their national defence and emphasises that US foreign policy must always prioritise American interests. He has also taken a hard-line stance toward combating IS and has even at times asserted the US should commit tens of thousands of ground troops to the fight. He says Nato should do more to combat terrorism in the Middle East.
“I believe an easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia — from a position of strength only — is possible, absolutely possible. Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out,” says Donald Trump.
The 2016 election has seen the rawest debate in decades over trade agreements, globalization and the impact of lower tariffs and more open borders on US workers and their wages. One of the largest differences between the candidates has been their ideas on global trade.
Clinton does not have a specific trade plan but has pledged to fight the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a deal she once called the “gold standard” for international trade agreements. Her husband, Bill Clinton, oversaw the passage of Nafta during his first term in the White House. With public sentiment turning against free trade deals, however, Clinton has backed away from her earlier support. She has said she now opposes TPP and the Central American Free Trade Agreement as they are currently formulated.
Donald Trump has upended his own party’s longstanding position of supporting unfettered free trade. While he says he is not opposed to trade in principle, any trade deals have to protect US industry. He is firmly against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and has said that he will reopen negotiations on already signed pacts, such as the North America Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), and withdraw if US demands are not met. He has accused US trading partners like Mexico and China of unfair trade practices, currency manipulation and intellectual property theft, threatening to unilaterally impose tariffs and other punitive measures if they do not implement reforms.
Donald Trump has been warning that the US policy of admitting refugees from certain regions — the Middle East, or more generally, Muslim nations — presents a serious threat to US national security. He has attempted to bolster his case by citing often debunked internet rumours, such as that Syrian refugees are largely young, single men. He has called for the US to suspend resettling refugees until “extreme vetting” procedures can be implemented, including ideological tests to screen out extremists. He asserts that nations in the Middle East, which have already received millions of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, must do more to create safe zones for those fleeing the violence.
Hillary Clinton has called for an increase in the number of Syrian refugees resettled in the US from the current 10,000 annual level to 65,000, which, as Trump likes to point out, is a 550% increase. She cautions that the refugees should be “carefully vetted”, but notes that current procedures already involve a multi-year application process and refugees do not know in which nation they will be settled. She says the US has a history of welcoming those fleeing oppression and violence, which she wants to continue.
The global push to curb climate change will look to the next president for leadership. But, when it comes to Earth’s climate and environment, the beliefs and policy measures promoted by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have been either polarizing or brushed under the rug. While Hillary Clinton lists “Protecting animals and wildlife” and “climate change” as two major topics on her campaign website, Trump doesn’t include anything about the environment.
Hillary Clinton is largely in the mainstream of the Democratic Party on environmental issues. She says climate change is a threat to American security, supports stringent regulation of the energy industry, and opposes expanded drilling in Alaska and the construction of the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada. She has rankled some environmentalists, however, by refusing to back a moratorium on the extraction of oil from shale deposits through the process known as fracking.
“When it comes to climate change, the science is crystal clear. … That’s why as President, I will work both domestically and internationally to ensure that we build on recent progress and continue to slash greenhouse gas pollution over the coming years as the science clearly tells us we must,” says Hillary Clinton.
Trump doesn’t accept the overwhelming scientific evidence that climate change is real and wants to dismantle the Paris Agreement. He opines that the US shouldn’t waste “financial resources” on climate change and should instead use them to ensure the world has clean water, eliminate diseases like malaria, increase food production, or develop alternative energy sources.
Trump calls attempts to remedy global warming “just a very, very expensive form of tax.” He tells coal miners he’ll get their jobs back. Solar power now employs four times more people than coal mining.
“I think our biggest form of climate change we should worry about is nuclear weapons,” he said. “The biggest risk to the world — I know President Obama thought it was climate change — to me the biggest risk is nuclear weapons. That is climate change. That is a disaster, and we don’t even know where the nuclear weapons are right now. We don’t know who has them. We don’t know who’s trying to get them. The biggest risk for this world and this country is nuclear weapons, the power of nuclear weapons,” says Trump.
Combatting terrorism is a hot-button issue in any presidential campaign. But this year, with almost daily terror attacks happening around the world, it is a particularly pressing topic. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have repeatedly spoken out on terror. Trump has called Clinton and President Obama the founders of ISIS, with Clinton responding that these comments were yet “another example of Donald Trump trash-talking the United States.”
Trump has pledged that his administration would “aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS [and] international cooperation to cut off their funding.” He also suggested an international conference, working with Middle Eastern allies such as Israel, Jordan and Egypt, with the common goal of stopping ISIS. He also proposed working closely with NATO to further develop a division focused on terrorism.
Clinton similarly wants to work with international allies to defeat ISIS and the ideologies that fuel it; she cites her duties as Secretary of State as a good track record. In her speech following the Orlando attacks in June, she pledged to “stem the flow of jihadists from Europe and Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and then back again … by working closely with our partners, strengthening our alliances, not weakening them or walking away from them.”
Clinton wants to work hand-in-hand with European and Middle Eastern allies to target jihadist enablers and target ISIS affiliates from Libya to Afghanistan.
Although both the candidates differ widely on various international issues, one thing is certain: the next president will confront a deeply unsettled world, from a Middle East in turmoil to a Europe struggling to contain an outbreak of terror attacks. With many Americans weary from more than a decade of war, a miscalculation on any of these pressure points could have combustible consequences.