Note: It’s the day before Election Day 2016, and this morning, a woman I went to high school with emailed me and asked for a pretty basic rundown of what’s going on. Here’s What I sent her, info redacted.
You’ve probably determined by now who my preference is and who I’ll be voting for tomorrow But I want to try to be fair to the parties, and go through some pros and cons. Forgive me if I go too basic.
For what it’s worth, I understand and appreciate the general Republican position of smaller government. The idea that people know how to spend their own money, would be heavily involved in their local schools to determine what exactly and with which methods children are taught, and how to appropriate tax dollars on which things their specific cities and towns may need. The conservative viewpoint is that governing should be bottom-up (the people decide exactly how much money goes where) while business is top-down (large corporations should be given a free and open economy to boom and money will trickle down to the workers from there). The general Democrat position is for larger, federal government, or the idea that areas of the country that are better off should help (through federal taxes) places that are not as well-off. Democrats also think that educational content and procedures should be homogenized more across the country (so that everyone grows up knowing the same basic stuff). Democrats are also worried that if business is top-down, the people that own the businesses may not ever get around to sharing the wealth– they’re afraid that if a CEO makes $300 million, there’s no real incentive to give his employees a raise, if he is allowed to keep all that money for himself. Democrats try to pass laws– usually called “regulations”– that ensure that business owners have to share the company profits more, usually through increasing minimum wages, benefits (like health insurance), and also things like paid vacation and family leave. Democrats also don’t think that businesses should be allowed to do whatever they want to make a product. A lot of business regulations are about how much pollution a factory can put into the environment.
None of this is to say that Democrats don’t believe in local or state government. It’s more that local and state government is of equal importance to federal or cross-country issues. I’d say while Republicans think government should be 90% local and 10% nation-wide, Democrats think it should probably be a bit closer to 60% local and 40% nationwide.
A lot of what is at stake here is the presence of the Federal government. Hillary Clinton is a very strong believer in the Federal government– which is understandable, considering her role as a Senator and First Lady. Even prior to that, when she was a lawyer, most of her work was, essentially, petitioning the Federal government to intervene into local and state issues, primarily the way kids were educated or punished. She worked to get a federal law passed that kids in wheelchairs or with other disabilities had to be given access to public schools– before the mid 1970s, it was not required for public schools to even have wheelchair ramps, or for public school busses to pick up kids in wheelchairs or with other disabilities. She also worked to make sure that kids under a certain age (I think it was 16) weren’t thrown into adult prisons when they broke the law. It was pretty common a few decades ago for kids– as young as 14– to do their jail time with grown adults doing time for WAY worse crimes. She’s done a lot more since then, but I like pointing out she’s been working with the federal government long, long, long before she ever married Bill
Donald Trump, on the other hand, is not a big fan of the federal government. He, and a lot of his voters, primarily view it as a waste of money. And, you know, I get that sometimes. Why should a businessman in New York pay federal taxes, to pay for, like, reduced school lunches in Mississippi?
Like everything, it boils down to money and resources. Places like Connecticut, California, Washington state, New York, and Massachusetts have, essentially, extra money to spare, and the voters in those states are okay with that extra money going to places like Oklahoma, Mississippi, Texas, and Alabama to fund things they may need– stuff like the Environmental Protection Agency to make sure that the natural gas mining in Oklahoma doesn’t poison drinking water, the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Mississippi so if a hurricane blows through, we can send food and medicine to people affected, and things like the Federal Free Student Lunch Program so public school kids in Texas and Alabama can have at least one meal a day, if their parents aren’t earning enough money to pay rent and put groceries in the fridge.
A lot of the reason why we have “red” states and “blue” states is money. The people in the “blue” states have extra money, and don’t mind sending it to other people. A lot of the “red” states don’t have extra money and are really terrified the federal government will take what little money they have and send it to blue states. That’s not how the system works, but I get why they’re afraid!
A lot of Republicans– even in the “blue” states!– think the extra money should stay in the states. And I think what I’ve seen more of in this election, too, is the Republican party trying to decide who should even be allowed in the country to participate in the American economy. They’re afraid that if we allow more people into the country, then there will never be enough money to take care of everyone.
And here’s where I have to be honest: I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 10 years, pretty much the republican nightmare of immigration. Our population of undocumented immigrants is really, really high– and not just Latino immigrants! And I have met **one** guy– in all my years here– who didn’t want to be documented, and didn’t want to pay taxes. One. Everyone else really, really wishes they could become citizens, pay taxes, and even raise their families here, just like an American. Even back home, we went to school with a lot of kids who were children of or even immigrants themselves. The good news is, Connecticut has laws that says those kids can go to public school and even go on to college at places like UConn. A lot of states don’t!
The path to becoming a citizen is long and difficult. And it should be! Because being an American comes with a lot of benefits. But it breaks my heart to see people taken advantage of, and that’s really what happens when we don’t give people a path to citizenship. Because people won’t ever **stop** trying to come here. The only thing that happens is that if you’re not a citizen, you have no path to stop people from hurting you– like, working a full day at work and then having your boss refuse to pay you. Since I’m a citizen, if I took that up with the Department of Labor, they would fight for me to get paid, and punish my boss for being a jerk. But if an undocumented immigrant does that, they’re just thrown in jail.
Hillary Clinton wants to make the process to become an American more streamlined– she sees it as a way to get more taxpayers in the system, and to also stop a lot of bad things from happening to good people. Donald Trump wants to go as far as to dissuade people from even *thinking* about moving to the United States.
The wall between the US and Mexico is a lot of it, but he also wants to make sure we’re a really unfriendly place to lots of different kinds of people. He really, sincerely (and I’m not saying this because I don’t like him!) thinks that certain things predispose people to being criminals– he honestly thinks that being Black, Latino, or Muslim automatically makes people more inclined to commit a crime. He also thinks that being Gay or Transgender makes people more likely to sexually assault people.
And I’m not OK with that.
I really like Hillary Clinton, and I think a lot of her plans– like how to pay for new citizens, better health insurance, and reduced college tuition– make a lot of sense. Donald Trump hasn’t really outlined a lot of his ideas on how to fix problems. He names a lot of problems, but doesn’t seem to have a lot of specifics on how to fix them.
And for a bit of background, I should say: Hillary Clinton’s plans will probably raise mine and my boyfriend’s taxes. He’s a small business owner, and chances are, his taxes– for his business and for our income– will probably go up a little bit. We already have everything we want, and we see a lot of people who need more. We really see paying more taxes to the government as convenient. We want to do more to help people across the country, and if the government can do that for us, that’s awesome! It saves us the time of researching charities, and hoping money really does get where it’s needed.