Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Make sure you know where to vote, and where presidential candidates — former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump — stand on the issues that matter to you. If you’re still on the fence about your vote, that’s all right. To better inform you of the issues that matter to college students, we enlisted the help of students Conor Johnson and Chris Malcaus, presidents of the Political Science Club at SJC Long Island and the Social Thinkers Club at SJC Brooklyn, respectively.
What issues do they think matter most to the college-age populous? And where do the candidates stand on each one?
Tomorrow is #ElectionDay and we’re wondering: Is this the first time you are voting for a U.S. president?
— St. Joseph’s College (@SJCNY) November 7, 2016
The following prompts and responses are taken from the online encyclopedia of American politics and elections, ballotpedia.org.
5. AFFORDABLE EDUCATION
Clinton has a $350 billion plan for reform that would change the way higher education is financed, require colleges to control costs, and help make loan repayment more manageable. Clinton introduced a student loan reform policy that would make in-state public college free for students from families with a combined income under $125,000 and defer repayment for graduates for three months.
Trump laid out a student loan repayment plan in a speech in Ohio on Oct. 13, 2016. He said, “We would cap repayment for an affordable portion of the borrower’s income, 12.5 percent, we’d cap it. That gives you a lot to play with and a lot to do. And if borrowers work hard and make their full payments for 15 years, we’ll let them get on with their lives. They just go ahead and they get on with their lives.”
4. LEGALIZING MARIJUANA
In 2016, Clinton received a grade of B+ from the Marijuana Policy Project for her support of medicinal marijuana research and the reclassification of marijuana as a Schedule II drug. According to her 2016 presidential campaign website, Clinton believes that federal law enforcement should be focused on violent crime rather than simple marijuana possession.
In 2016, Trump received a grade of C+ from the Marijuana Policy Project for his support of medicinal marijuana and opposition to recreational marijuana use. While speaking with reporters on Oct. 29, 2015, Trump said marijuana legalization “should be a state issue, state-by-state.”
3. Climate Change
According to The Hill, “Clinton is open to working with lawmakers on a tax on carbon dioxide emissions if Congress wants it.” On July 26, 2016, Clinton’s energy advisor Trevor Houser said, “Democrats believe that climate change is too important to wait for climate deniers in Congress to start listening to science. And while it’s always important to remain open to a conversation about how to address this issue with Congress, we need a plan that we can implement day one, because it’s too important to wait, and we need to focus on those things as well.”
- Clinton pledged to power at least half of the nation’s energy needs with renewable sources by 2030.
- Clinton applauded the Paris Agreement to combat climate change.
The Trump campaign released a statement on the Paris Climate Accord after it was announced on Oct. 5, 2016, that the international climate change deal would go into effect on Nov. 4, 2016. The Trump campaign called it a “bad deal” that will “impose enormous costs on American households through higher electricity prices and higher taxes.” The statement went on to say, “As our nation considers these issues, Mr. Trump and Gov. Pence appreciate that many scientists are concerned about greenhouse gas emissions.”
- As of Sept. 30, 2016, Trump had not offered climate change policy details, but he has expressed support for rescinding President Obama’s 2013 Climate Action Plan and the 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule and canceling the Paris Climate Agreement.
2. Race and Social Movements
Leading Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson endorsed Clinton in an editorial for The Washington Post on Oct. 26, 2016. He wrote, “Clinton’s platform on racial justice is strong: It is informed by the policy failings of the past and is a vision for where we need to go. It acknowledges the need to establish new restrictions on police use of force and militarization, invest in treatment and rehabilitation as alternatives to police and prisons, and protect and expand the right to vote.”
Speaking at a campaign event in North Carolina on Oct. 26, 2016, Trump promised a “new deal for black America.” The plan focused on education, crime, and better-paying jobs. Trump told the crowd, “Here is the promise I make to you whether you vote for me or not. I will be your greatest champion. We keep electing the same people over and over and they keep coming back to the African-American and the Hispanic community and keep talking about what they’re going to do … I will never ever take the African American community for granted. Never, ever.”
1. Job Creation
In 2016, the presidential candidates have focused less on the unemployment rate, and more on “bringing back” jobs that have been outsourced, particularly in the manufacturing sector. Clinton has called for investment in American infrastructure as a means of creating “good-paying” jobs and increasing wages.
- Clinton plans to increase wages and create jobs by investing in infrastructure, manufacturing, and clean energy. She pledged to send a $275 million infrastructure plan to Congress within her first 100 days in office if elected president.
- Clinton supports organized labor and raising the minimum wage.
- Clinton said that economic growth comes from businesses and entrepreneurs creating good-paying jobs, not by giving tax cuts to corporations that outsource jobs overseas.
Trump’s economic plan calls for trade, tax, energy and regulatory reform to make America the “best place in the world to get a job.” On September 15, 2016, Trump revealed an economic plan which he said would create 25 million new jobs and grow the economy at an annual rate of at least 3.5 percent. Describing his plan in a speech before the Economic Club of New York as “the most pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-family plan put forth perhaps in the history of our country.”
- Trump has previously contended that the U.S. cannot raise the minimum wage and still compete with the rest of the world, but he has also proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $10.
- He says any increase in the minimum wage should be done at the state level because states compete with each other.
- Trump has called for six weeks of paid maternity leave.