Hillary and Bernie: Democrats on the Issues

Maya Lapp, Senior Reporter

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So the country has entered yet another year of presidential campaigning. As the primaries and caucuses begin and each candidate tries to win public support, an inevitable question arises. What is the real difference between the candidates? The top Democratic runners, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, seem remarkably similar on many issues. Both have a consistent record of supporting women’s right to abortion, both oppose the Keystone Pipeline, both support the DREAM act and creating a path to citizenship for immigrants in the United States.

So where do these two candidates differ on political ground and promises, should they win the presidency? One main difference between these two candidates is their rhetoric and presentation of beliefs. Sanders consistently uses inflammatory language, labeling the rich as the “billionaire class”, proclaiming himself a “Democratic Socialist” and demanding a “political revolution”. His language appeals to those who believe that America is in the need for change in order to progress. His platform is based on the idea of fighting “the issue of wealth inequality” in almost all matters, ranging from education to taxation.

Clinton, on the other hand, offers to continue Obama’s policies and improve upon the current system, gaining her backing from those who approve of the current administration and wish to continue the progress Obama has managed thus far. While Sander’s attacks the system, promising action such as breaking up the large banks, Clinton wishes to improve the system, suggesting action such as an enforcement of the Dodd-Frank Act. While Clinton praises Obamacare, Sanders stresses a need for Single-Payer Health Care, an issue which Clinton formerly supported

The issue in which Sanders is most defensive rests in gun control. Sanders voted against the Brady Bill, often claimed the most significant gun control law ever passed. This is a crucial issue to many Democrats, and Clinton, a long-time advocate for strong gun control, has used this against Sanders repeatedly. Sanders, in return, has questioned Clinton repeatedly about her position on campaign financing. He criticizes her for her funding from Wall Street corporations and more recently for taking speaking fees from Goldman Sachs. Sanders pointedly noted that he, unlike Clinton, refused to take money from super PACs and claims that she cannot follow through on her promise to overturn Citizens United or require candidates to disclose the money they receive from super PACs when she receives such money herself.

The one issue that seems to distinguish Clinton and Sanders most prominently is their view on foreign affairs. Sanders has consistently been known as an anti-war advocate, while Clinton has supported United States military involvement abroad. Sanders voted against the war it Iraq as well as the escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan. Clinton, conversely, supported the Iraq War (which she now admits was a mistake) as well as increasing United States presence in Afghanistan. She says she will maintain troops in Afghanistan while Sanders vows to withdraw the troops. On a similar note, Clinton supports a no-fly zone over Syria, a policy Sanders opposes. Sanders does not believe the United States should take a lead role against ISIS and should instead work with the international community to resolve the struggle in the Middle East. Clinton vows to “intensify and broaden” the United States fight against ISIS.

Clinton supporters have consistently described her as a realist who will get things done while in the oval office, while brushing Sanders off as an idealist with no pragmatism. Likewise, Sander’s has adopted a primarily young crowd who praise him for sticking to his beliefs while accusing Clinton of following the whims of public opinion in order to remain politically potent. In all likelihood, both of these statements contain some truth. Decide for yourself – watch the next Clinton-Sanders debate March 6th!

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