On October 19th, Las Vegas hosted the third and final TV debate ahead of the 2016 US presidential election scheduled on Tuesday, November 8th, bringing face to face the Democrat Party nominee, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump, the nominee of the Republican Party. Although there are also independent candidates on the voting ballot, the Commission on Presidential Debates, dominated by the two major political parties, has set up a rule according to which an independent candidate may qualify for the debate if he/she exceeds 15 percent in polls two weeks before the debate – which seems a hurdle too high for independent candidates.
The national debates, which started in 1960, may offer the candidates a chance to present their policies, answer questions, engage with each other and the public, attract media attention, make their case to the voters before Election Day, and ultimately prepare for what may be a future job for one of them – President of the United States.
Former First Lady, US Senator and Secretary of State under the Obama Administration, Hillary Clinton is a seasoned politician and a keen advocate for the rights of children and families. Some of the key proposals of her 2016 platform are raising incomes, improving the Affordable Care Act, replenishing the Social Security funds, a comprehensive immigration reform with path to citizenship, expanding and protecting LGBT rights. She defends women’s right to make their own health care decisions and to be paid equal rates for equal work, and instituting family support through paid parental leave and universal preschool.
In her plan the government plays a big role – more tax and more regulation. She aims to offer the middle class more opportunities “when the middle class thrives, America thrives”, invest in infrastructure, high manufacturing, and clean energy, support small businesses, set up more technical apprentices in schools and colleagues, make college and university tuition more affordable based on a plan she worked on with Senator Bernie Sanders, her Democrat opponent in the primaries.
At the opposite pole, the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, is a businessman, television producer and politician. He is the chairman and president of the Trump Organisation, which is the principal holding company for his real estate ventures and business interests. Trump’s business background reflects on his policy, which includes tax breaks, less governmental regulation, and renegotiation of particular trade agreements such as NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the US-China trade deals. He also supports stronger enforcement of immigration laws, building a wall along the US-Mexico border, reform of veterans’ care, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, and a pro-life approach in regards to women’s rights.
As four of the nine current US Supreme Court justices approach the age of retirement, the next president may have the chance to reshape the structure of the Supreme Court. While Donald Trump inclines towards more conservative justices who interpret the US Constitution ad litteram, exactly as worded, Hillary Clinton seems to prefer a more flexible approach based on changing circumstances. The two candidates seem to have particularly divergent opinions in regards to the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, which was adopted in 1791 and protects the US citizens’ right to bear arms. While Clinton believes in reasonable adjustments to the 2nd Amendment, including comprehensive background checks and closing the Charleston loophole intended to potentially help save more lives, Donald Trump, who is endorsed by the National Riffle Association, declared he feels strongly about the 2nd Amendment being interpreted ad litteram and aims to appoint justices who share his vision.
As the presidential campaign moves in the final weeks, it becomes more evident what is at stake in this election. Choosing between two antagonistic platforms may resume to what country the American electorate envisions for themselves and the generations to come. Every vote is a validation of a candidate as well as his or her policy with profound impact on the future of the country. While presidential elections, such as this one, may seem dominated by strong candidate profiles, it may ultimately be their policies and ideas defining the county’s future.
What policy changes may render US elections more competitive and inclusive?