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2016 Presidential Election Essay


2016 Presidential Election Essay

A1 Introduction

            The 2016 Presidential Election is not until November 2016, but both parties are beginning to narrow their fields and begin their preparations for an election that is expected to be highly contested.  As with prior election seasons, the current primary season has already seen some significant in-fighting within the two major political parties, with potential candidates attacking each other in an attempt to get their party’s nomination.  What is fascinating is how changeable the support for a candidate can be during the primary season.  For example, Republican hopeful Donald Trump once had a formidable lead over the other Republican candidates, but, while he continues to poll at the head of the pack, is now polling within just a few points of the next contender, Ben Carson.  Marco Rubio is well behind both of them, and just marginally ahead of several other candidates vying for his top three stop.[1] A2   In the Democratic field, the top three candidates, are Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O Malley.[2]  Vice-President Joe Biden, who is believed to have significant popular support for a candidacy is not considered a current candidate because he has yet to announce whether or not he will run for President at this time. 

Donald Trump

            Of all of the current Republican presidential candidates, Donald Trump is easily the most polarizing.  People either tend to love or hate the brash businessman, who is not afraid to speak his mind.  Oddly enough, the same things that cause some people to love him cause other people to hate him, worrying that his caustic words would results in a diplomatic disaster should he become the leader of the free world.  However, how much of Trump’s persona is simply bluster is difficult to discern, given that he has clearly created a very well- crafted public persona.  What is known about Trump is that he is a successful businessman.  He has led several financially successful corporations.  While his detractors point out that he has declared bankruptcy in his role as head of those corporations, the reality is that those bankruptcies have been financially advantageous for the companies. 

            Trump has no experience in politics, but does has experience as a businessman.  He is a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied Economics, and is perhaps best known as the Host on the television show The Apprentice, which featured people vying for a position in one of Trumps businesses.  Trump is not a self-made millionaire; his father Fred Trump was a wealthy real estate developer, and real estate development is the source of Trump’s own fortune.  However, he has greatly increased the money he received from his father. 

            Trump is considered a conservative candidate, although his personal life seems contrary to the conservative values he appears to laud.  He is on his third-marriage, and his first divorce occurred after a highly publicized affair with the woman who became his second-wife.  He has made several public statements about Mexicans that have made him very unpopular with much of the Hispanic voting block and has engaged in some seemingly personal feuds with celebrities including Rosie O’Donnell and Megyn Kelly.

            Trump’s stance on the issues is difficult to determine, not because he has not made issue statements but because he has made so many issue statements and has, in fact, been a member of both the Republican and Democratic political parties in recent history.  He is now opposed to abortion, having previously been pro-life. He is for energy exploration and believes that climate change is a hoax.  He opposes common core educational standards.  He has gone from being in favor of reasonable gun restrictions to being against any type of gun control. 

Ben Carson

            Ben Carson is, in many ways, the polar opposite of Donald Trump.  Trump comes from a privileged white family and is known for his ostentatious wealth, while Carson is African American and is known for his struggle to overcome an impoverished childhood.  Carson is regarded, by many, as one of the most intelligent candidates of either party.  A retired neurosurgeon and the former Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Carson has no actual political experience and did not become part of the national political scene until taking part in the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013.  However, while he has not held an elected office, Carson does have a well-established high-profile reputation.  He serves on the board of several corporations and is a published author.   In 2008, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008.  Politically, he may best be known as an outspoken opponent of Obamacare.  He is a graduate of Yale University, where he majored in Psychology, and the University of Michigan, where he obtained his M.D. 

            Carson is one of the more socially conservative candidates.  He is unapologetically pro-life and would eliminate abortion for convenience and ban all abortions after 20 weeks.  He would lower the legal blood alcohol limit for drunk driving purposes and does not support legalized marijuana for recreational purposes.  He is economically more complex.  He wants to end dependence on foreign oil, but does not feel like unfettered deregulation is the correct financial solution.  Furthermore, his position on immigration is not to focus on deportation but to slow the influx of new undocumented immigrants and create a guest worker program.

Marco Rubio

            Unlike Trump or Carson, Marco Rubio is a career politician.  A graduate of the University of Florida where he majored in Political Science and the University of Miami School of Law, Rubio had a nine year career in the Florida House of Representatives, then became a U.S. Senator in 2011.  He has heavy support from the Tea Party and is considered far right in terms of the political spectrum.  He is against abortion, voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, is against gay marriage, and is against equal pay for women.  He is against legalizing marijuana and believes that federal laws should be enforced even in states where marijuana has been legalized, but also that sentences should be responsibly reduced.  He does not believe that climate change is impacted by human behavior or that the government should explore clean energy alternatives.  

            Rubio’s probably best-known for his positions on foreign policy and immigration, specifically his position on Cuba and the rest of Latin America.  He believes that the borders must be secured and that the current immigrants waiting for legal immigrant status should be handled before granting amnesty to any people who have come to the United States illegally.  However, he does not oppose a process that would include amnesty as part of a solution.  He believes that there needs to be some type of comprehensive reform because the current system is not working. 

Hillary Clinton

            Hillary Clinton is the best known of the Democratic candidates running for office.  The former Senator and former Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, Clinton also has experience in the White House, since she was First Lady during the Presidency of her husband Bill Clinton.  She is considered the party’s frontrunner for the nomination and was the second most popular candidate when Obama got the nomination in 2008.  If she got the nomination, she would be a historic candidate because, though women have run as the Vice-President, no woman has ever been the Presidential nominee for either party. 

            While considered a leftist by many in the far-right, Clinton is considered moderate by most Democrats.  She is pro-choice, but believes that the number of abortions should be reduced through education, prevention, adoption, and foster care.  She does not support No Child Left Behind, but common core standards are similar to the standards she advocated while her husband was the Governor of Arkansas.  She has changed her position to support gay marriage and oppose the Defense of Marriage Act.  However, her civil rights and affirmative action positions have different ratings depending on the group doing the ratings.  She is to the right of many in her party in terms of the economy, particularly as it relates to corporate America and its relationship with the military.  She believes that climate change is occurring and that it is man made, but is also not completely opposed to exploring continued use of U.S. oil and gas resources. 

Bernie Sanders

            Bernie Sanders was considered by many to be an unelectable candidate, but has been gaining considerable traction in his candidacy.   He is considered the furthest left of the Democratic candidates and is often called a socialist, by both his detractors and his advocates.  He is the most pro-choice of all of the major candidates and supports access to birth control and abortion access.  His economic focus tends to be consumer level; he wants to address the causes of economic inequality, help avoid foreclosures, enforce rules that would penalize fraudulent lenders, and ban abusive credit practices.  He has a strong record in civil rights and is committed to working to end institutionalized racism, wants equal pay for women, is in favor of civil rights for gay people, has always been in favor of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, and wants to prohibit sexual identity discrimination in schools.  He does not believe that corporate spending is the same as free speech, wants to fix the estate tax so that the mega rich would pay a greater portion in taxes, wants to break up Wall Street firms, disagreed with the bank bailouts, and wants to cap deductions for CEO pay.   He believes that education is critical and that a quality education should be affordable through higher education levels.  He believes that climate change is happening and that skeptics should be confronted with undeniable facts.  He believes the U.S. should transition to clean, renewable energy sources and away from fossil fuels. 

Martin O Malley

            Martin O Malley was the Governor of Maryland, former, Mayor of Baltimore, and a former Baltimore City Councilman who is currently a visiting professor with Johns Hopkins University’s School of Business.  He is pro-choice, and supports federal funding for abortions and stem-cell research.  He has a mixed approach on the economy; he believes that tax reductions and regulatory reforms are necessary to help job creators, but also wants to reinstate Glass-Steagall to increase regulation of the investment banking industry.  He has also credited Obama with helping turn around an economy that he considers the worst since the Great Depression.  Furthermore, his approach to improving the economy is neither bottom-up nor top down; he believes improving the middle class will help both the lower and upper class.  He also takes a middle-ground approach on crime. He is against the death penalty, but is against legalizing drug, though he wants proportionality in drug sentencing.  He also supports reasonable gun control including smart gun technology that would prevent unauthorized gun use. 


            At this time, while there are top candidates in both parties, the fields are still wide open.  As the candidates engage in more debates and other publicity opportunities, voters will have the chance to learn more about them.  In prior races, evolving positions have resulted in front runners dropping out of the races and dark horses coming from behind to take prominent positions in the races.  Which means that it is still far too early to predict either the Democrat or Republican candidate for President in 2016, much less the winner of the 2016 election!


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