You are forgiven if you are tired of hearing about American politics – everyone is. This presidential election has felt endless, but rejoice! The end is in sight. On 8 November, the American public will cast their votes for the candidate they like the most (or, more likely, hate the least). Regardless, it is inevitable that either Trump or Clinton will be the next POTUS and so it is necessary to imagine and prepare ourselves for a reality where either is leading the most powerful country in the world.
On 8 November, the American public will cast their votes for the candidate they like the most (or, more likely, hate the least).
The election of the first female President would be a fair step forward for women in America. The nature of this step could be a mere image for women and girls to aspire to, or an administration that tackles gender inequality head on. The wage gap between men and women has been a key part of Clinton’s campaign, having been used at rallies and debates in an attempt to win the votes of half of America’s population. Clinton has past experience with women’s rights, having made it a central message during her term as First Lady and a key focus during her time as Secretary of State. It is therefore likely that women in America would stand to gain from a Clinton administration. In contrast, Trump has made little reference to any agenda concerning women’s rights and his past comments describing women as ‘pigs’, ‘slobs’, and worse suggest that his administration would not make equal pay a priority.
So what is Trump’s priority? Foreign policy: defeating ISIS, building a wall on the Southern border and deporting immigrants. How does he plan on doing all of this? Well, there’s very little detail on that, as he claims that giving precise plans would be a tactical mistake as his plans would then be available to the enemy. Valid though this reason seems, it is likely a façade to compensate for him actually having no clue on how to do these things. Trump’s actions in this field would be unorganised and poorly planned, damaging America’s relationship with other countries, namely Mexico, and creating an incredibly unstable atmosphere internationally. Trump’s approach to foreign policy has an aggressive ‘America-first’ style: he has consistently criticised America’s contributions to NATO and how America promises protection to its allies free of charge. If Trump were to become president, America would likely isolate itself from the international community, and age-old alliances could sour and break down.
But how will Clinton’s foreign policy differ? She has always emphasised the importance of America’s alliances and international unions such as NATO, so those relationships would be fairly secure. However, she could potentially be just as aggressive as Trump. She won’t be building a wall on the Southern border, but her action as Secretary of State showed how interventionist she can be. She led America’s role in the overthrowing of Gadaffi in Libya, and left Libya as a nation torn by terrorism and rivalling militia groups. It could therefore be expected for America to further its role as the ‘world police’ with Clinton as commander-in-chief. And, given her vote to go to war in Iraq in 2002, it is clear that military intervention is not off the table. Clinton has since expressed regretting her vote to go to war, meaning America could soon find itself with a commander-in-chief who sees the perils of a decision only after it is made.
In contrast to her foreign policy, Clinton’s economic policy is surprisingly left-wing, mainly due to the influences Bernie Sanders had on the Democrats’ policies. She has some desire to redistribute wealth in America, mostly through increasing taxation on the wealthy in order to fund her initiatives that would mostly benefit the working and middle classes. If she were to be successful, the economy of America could be completely redesigned so that it no longer benefits only those at the top, but all Americans. This levelling of the economic landscape would perhaps improve America’s level of poverty (13.5 per cent compared to 6.5 per cent in the UK) and make the American Dream possible once more.
However, Clinton has long-standing and well-documented links with major corporations and financial institutions who would perhaps wish to keep their money, and not hand it over to the government. These companies, such as the infamous Goldman Sachs, would likely need only threaten to withdraw their funding for Clinton’s political campaigns and she would succumb to the pressure. Most of Clinton’s economic ambitions could be quickly eliminated if she is willing to bow to the pressure of her wealthy benefactors, and so we may, in fact, see quite a lacklustre impact on American economic policy.
Where Clinton has many vested interests, Trump, supposedly, has none as he is wealthy already, and much of his campaign has been self-funded (34 per cent). It is possible then that Trump could pass swathes of economic reforms without needing to bow to the powerful corporations that would seek to prevent this. Then it’s a shame what Trump’s economic policy is: he promises to reduce taxes for everyone, especially the wealthy and businesses, as well as doing away with much of the regulations for businesses. This is classic ‘free market’ ideology that can only be expected from a Republican candidate, but what effect would this policy have on America? Well, the last time a president massively cut taxes and reduced regulation, businesses acted recklessly, the economy crashed, and America was hit by the worst recession since the 30s. It is very possible that a Trump administration could lead to yet another American and, by result, international, financial crash.
Trump also applies this free-market mindset to his approach to health. For him and many republicans, the public sector has no right meddling in the private sector and so any progress Obama has made through acts such as the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) would be completely reversed if Trump got into power. This would return America to being a country where only the wealthy can afford to be unwell, when, in fact, where America needs to be going is in the other direction, towards providing basic health provisions for all of its citizens as a basic right. A Clinton administration would perhaps take America a step in this direction, but even she would never consider the implementation of an all-encompassing healthcare service. In many debates with Bernie Sanders she had refuted this idea and, instead, has opted for building on the pre-existent healthcare.
no matter which candidate wins this election, American foreign policy will escalate and become more interventionist
So in summary, we will soon find an America where women are seen as equals in society, or ‘pigs’ and ‘slobs’. The American economy will be a level playing field where everyone pays and receives their fair share, or a deregulated chaotic quagmire, reminiscent of the economy leading up to the 2008 crash. But, importantly, no matter which candidate wins this election, American foreign policy will escalate and become more interventionist. Drone strikes will increase, proxy wars will become the norm and it’s not unlikely that US troops could return to the Middle East. The increased military activity will cause tension in the world not seen since the Cold War, appropriate given America and Russia’s current relationship. So, the question is not ‘who will make America great again?’ but ‘can anyone make America great again?’