America isn't in the best place right now. Far from the country our parents remember, our America has rampant income inequality, unemployment, citizens who cannot afford to pay their medical bills or their student loans. We've just come out of a hard recession, with a recovery that saw 95% of income gains going to the top 1%, and new stock market bubbles being inflated even as I type. There is a lot of very justified anger in this nation, and amongst it's people, and we're all fighting to protect ourselves from an insecure future.
The institutions that were created to protect us have failed us, our leaders have failed us, the establishment has failed us, and it's time for a change. This is the backdrop for the 2016 Presidential elections. The Democratic and Republican National committees have presented us with candidates that are part of the same establishment that has so wronged Americans on both sides of the political asile. The DNC gave Democrats Secretary Clinton, the RNC gave Republicans Governor Bush, and Senator Rubio, but none have been appealing to those of us looking for change. Out of this populist frustration we received two outsider candidates, candidates who want to change the political system in this country: Senator Bernie Sanders, and Mr. Donald Trump.
Both Trump and Sanders are outsiders of politics, one trying to change the government from within, the other from without. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders reflect our frustrations, our pains, and our struggles. Indeed, we see the establishment of both parties fighting against either candidate being nominated. On the Democratic side we're forced to fight against a mute media, derisive commentary, and a DNC that only has eyes for Secretary Clinton. On the Republican side Trump supporters are faced with outright hostility from media on both the left and the right, fighting against an RNC that wants to nominate "anyone but Trump," and even commentary from international sources that have little or no place in American politics.
From the outside, both candidates have equal appeal to those voters who are frustrated with Washington business as usual, both promise reform, both promise change. It's easy to understand why someone who supports Senator Sanders could see Donald Trump as an alternative. When looking solely at the issue of governmental reform, the two seem like different sides of the same coin.
However, past anger at the establishment, the two candidates could not be more at odds with eachother. While both want to take this country in a new direction, they also want to take the country in opposite directions. I feel that these different directions are not being well articulated in the media, much less on Reddit, and I would like to address some of the subjects on which the two candidates differ.
I will try to contrast a variety of topics, but this list will be by no means exhaustive, I am choosing to reference those subjects that I think the Reddit community is primarily concerned about. Please also note that I do have a personal bias, I believe that Senator Sanders is the best choice that we have for our next President, that said, I have made a point to include direct quotations as well as source links whereever possible, in hopes of facilitating both your own research, and so you can fact check my statements.
Net Neutrality and Privacy:Sanders:
"Bernie Sanders believes that increasingly omnipresent mass surveillance and attempts to undermine net neutrality are corrosive to democracy in America. He has voted against the Patriot Act and opposes warrantless wiretapping. In regards to net neutrality, he has co-sponsored and introduced legislation in favor of an open Internet."
Senator Sanders has voted against The Patriot Act, and it's reauthorization. He has voted against the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, and introduced the Restore Our Privacy Act to fight against overboard surveillance requests.
On why he opposed PIPA and SOPA, Senator Sanders had this to say:
“While I believe that online piracy is a serious issue, it is absolutely essential that the Internet remain open and free of censorship or the chilling effects that result in self-censorship. I will not support legislation that results in censorship or self censorship on the Internet."
Ultimately Senator Sanders came to the conclusion that both SOPA and PIPA were "too deeply flawed to continue [working on]"
The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was—in the Commission's view—honest, equitable, and balanced. The FCC eliminated the Doctrine in 1987, and in August 2011 the FCC formally removed the language that implemented the Doctrine.(Source)
It is unclear in what way Donald Trump believes that Net Neutrality and the Fairness Doctrine are similar.
The phrase "Net neutrality" does not appear on Donald Trump's official website, and the Positions page of his website has no mention of either net neutrality, or the internet. At the moment our only point of reference is the above Tweet.
This quote from the December 15th debate may offer further insights:
“I would certainly be open to closing areas [of the internet] where we are at war with somebody, I sure as hell don't want to let people that want to kill us and kill our nation use our internet. Yes, sir. I am."
He later clarified that he didn't mean closing down American parts of the internet, just Iraq and Syria. [As an editorial note: For better or for worse, the internet was a crucial tool in the success of the Arab Spring. Shutting down the internet in Iraq and Syria wouldn't just hurt ISIS, but also groups trying to organize against them.]
On encryption, specifically regarding the unlocking of the San Bernadino shooter's iPhone, Donald Trump had this to say:
"I agree 100% with the courts, in that case, we should open it [iPhone encryption] up. I think security over all -- we have to open it up, and we have to use our heads. We have to use common sense." Going so far as to encourage his supporters to boycott Apple until they comply with the FBI: "First of all, Apple ought to give the security for that phone, OK. What I think you ought to do is boycott Apple until such time as they give that security number."
The only mention on encryption on the official DonaldJTrump.com website is from the blog post A little touch of Trump, in which he describes the safety measures put on campaign related harddrives. There is no mention of policy regarding encryption.
Senator Sanders supports privacy rights and has fought against SOPA, PIPA, The Patriot Act, and the renewal of the Patriot act. Due to the lack of specific information on Donald Trump's website, we have to look at his statments, which would seem to indicate that he is opposed to encryption, opposed to net neutrality, and that he is willing to shut down portions of the internet in the name of national security.
On Freedom of Speech:Sanders:
"American's right to free speech should not be proportional to their bank accounts."
Senator Sanders supports the separation of Church & State, but also strongly supports religious freedom and free expression. By the same token, Senator Sanders believes that “Bosses should not be able to impose their religious beliefs on their employees.”
Senator Sanders has been a long outspoken proponent of free speech, participating in frequent protests, and once even being arrested for it.
"The editors at Charlie Hebdo liked poking Muslims in the eye with constant blasphemous depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. For doing so they paid an incredible and unfortunate price. But it’s important to remember that before the massacre, there was little outcry from the media establishment that such free speech was racist, insensitive or inflammatory.
Donald Trump often holds himself up as a beacon of Freedom of Speech, and is widely lauded for his willingness to say and do politically incorrect things. However, his actions may tell a different story. From The Daily Beast:
- Trump sued his ex-wife, Ivana Trump, for $25 million in 1992–because she talked too much.
- In 2006, Trump threatened to sue Rosie O’Donnell, then a co-host on The View, after she said he was bankrupt.
- In 2011, rapper Mac Miller released a song called “Donald Trump,” which included the lyrics, “Take over the world when I’m on my Donald Trump shit; Look at all this money, ain’t that some shit?” Trump Tweeted at Miller to threaten a lawsuit: “Now I’m going to teach you a big boy lesson about lawsuits and finance.”
- That same year , Trump threatened to sue MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell for suggesting he was worth less than $1 billion.
- In 2012, Trump sued Miss USA contestant Sheena Monnin after she claimed in a Facebook post that the pageant was “rigged,” because the five finalists were chosen before the pageant took place.
- In 2013, after Trump said he would donate $5 million to charity if President Obama would release his long form birth certificate to the public, Bill Maher joked that he would give Trump $5 million if he could prove that his father was not an orangutan. Trump sent Maher a copy of his birth certificate. When Maher didn’t pay up, Trump sued him for the $5 million.
- The same year , Trump threatened legal action against Angelo Carusone, who had organized a petition to force Macy’s to stop selling Trump-branded products.
- In 1984, Trump sued the Chicago Tribune for $500 million after the publication’s architecture critic wrote an item suggesting Chicago’s Sears Tower, then the world’s tallest building, would remain as such, despite Trump’s plan to build a taller structure in downtown Manhattan.
- Trump threatened to sue ABC in 2005, after he learned the network was planning to produce a two-hour biopic about him and his family.
- In 2006, Trump sued New York Times reporter Timothy L. O’Brien for saying Trump is worth $150 million to $250 million when Trump claimed, at the time, he was worth $2.7 billion.
- In 2014, Trump sued Trump Entertainment Resorts, which he holds a 10 percent stake in, to remove his name from the Trump Taj Mahal and Trump Plaza casinos in Atlantic City, which he said did not live up to his standard of quality.
Donald Trump has filed lawsuits against authors, journalists, newspapers, cities, individuals, and even a company that he partially owns, for saying things that he didn't like, or didn't approve of. He routinely uses the threat of legal action to silence his critics.
"One of the things I'm going to do if I win ... I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We're going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they're totally protected, we're going to open up libel laws, and we're going to have people sue you like you've never got sued before."
It should be noted that the "protections" Donald Trump speaks of are part of Freedom of the Press as defined by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Also of note is the fact that that a private citizen can already sue a publisher for libel, so long as they can prove that the news organization knowingly published false information with malicious intent, this was decided in the 1964 Supreme Court Case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan. Donald Trump does not need to add, remove, amend, or abridge any law to be able to sue a publisher, that is already the legal right of all American citizens.
No Disparagement. During the term of your service and at all times thereafter you hereby promise and agree not to demean or disparage publicly the Company, Mr. Trump, any Trump Company, any Family Member, or any Family Member Company or any asset any of the foregoing own, or product or service any of the foregoing offer, in each case by or in any of the Restricted Means and Contexts and to prevent your employees from doing so.
No Competitive Services. Until the Non-Compete Cutoff Date you promise and agree not to assist or counsel, directly or indirectly, for compensation or as a volunteer, any person that is a candidate or exploring candidacy for President of the United States other than Mr. Trump and to prevent your employees from doing so.
Theoretically these restrictions could be in place until 2024, or the end of Donald Trump's Presidency.
Senator Sanders has fought for freedom of speech his entire career, even going so far as being arrested during demonstrations and protests. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has filed numerous lawsuits attempting to silence his critics, and as President plans to make it easier to sue the press for unflattering commentary.
On climate change:Sanders:
"Climate change is real, caused by human activity and already devastating our nation and planet. The United States must lead the world in combating climate change and transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and sustainability."
Senator Sanders has long fought against climate change, as well a climate denial, which has earned him a high ranking from Climate Hawks Vote, consistently scoring within the top ten percent of Senators. Senator Sanders is also one of only three presidential candidates who agreed to refuse donations from greenhouse-gas emitters. He co-sponsored the Super Pollutants Act of 2014, the Climate Protection act of 2013, the End Polluter Welfare Act, and has fought against the Keystone XL pipeline.
"I mean, Obama thinks it’s the number one problem of the world today. And I think it’s very low on the list. So I am not a believer, and I will, unless somebody can prove something to me, I believe there’s weather. I believe there’s change, and I believe it goes up and it goes down, and it goes up again. And it changes depending on years and centuries, but I am not a believer, and we have much bigger problems." Source
From the DonaldJTrump.com official site:
"It is a hoax. Trump does not believe climate change is real, tweeting out his skepticism with strong language and calling it a hoax on Fox News in 2014. In a 2012 Twitter post which is no longer accessible, Trump charged that the concept of climate change was created by the Chinese to suppress the U.S. economy. In addition, Trump has expressed firm opposition to wind turbines, which he sees as an environmental and aesthetic problem." Source
In regards to energy policy, Donald Trump supports nuclear energy production, opposes Cap-And-Trade, believes that job creation is dependent on cheap, readily available oil, believes we need to increase oil production, and supports natural gas Fraking.
Senator Sanders believes that climate change is the greatest threat our nation, and our world, faces. It drives up energy costs, destroys valuable resources, and promotes terrorism. Donald Trump believes that climate change is a hoax, and the century long upward trend in global temperatures is "just weather."
The minimum wage and economic inequality:Sanders:
"Millions of Americans are working for totally inadequate wages. We must ensure that no full-time worker lives in poverty. The current federal minimum wage is starvation pay and must become a living wage. We must increase it to $15 an hour over the next several years."
The main goal of Senator Sanders career, and indeed his Presidential bid, has been to combat income inequality. Senator Sanders supports a progressive tax system, which would ask a little more of the very wealthy individuals in this country, included among them Donald Trump. Senator Sanders is outspoken about preventing corporations from skiping out on their tax bills, or even recieving unearned benefits, and has sponsored the Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act, and co-sponsored the Stop Corporate Inversions Act of 2015.
Unlike the millionaires and billionaires, the lobbests and SuperPACs, the special interests and the seven digit donors, Senator Sanders economic plan is centered around directly benefiting the American people. Far from the trickle down voodoo economics of the past thirty years, Bernie Sanders wants to help the poor, rather than cut taxes for the rich.
"But, taxes too high, wages too high, ... I hate to say it, but we have to leave it [the minimum wage] the way it is,"
Donald Trump has said that he would not raise the minimum wage if elected as President.
Donald Trump's tax plan is to cut taxes and simplify the tax code, while remaining revenue neutral.
[Revenue neutral means that his reforms will not result in an increase in tax revenue for the Federal Government.]
From his site:
- No family will have to pay the death tax. [The Death Tax, more commonly known as the estate tax, currentlyonly applies to estates worth $5,000,000.00 or more, and as such only effects the wealthiest of Americans.]
- Reducing or eliminating corporate loopholes that cater to special interests, as well as deductions made unnecessary or redundant by the new lower tax rate on corporations and business income. [Currently Donald Trump has only singled out one loophole that he would close, the Carried Interest Deduction for hedgefund managers. How he will finance the remainder of his tax cuts is unclear.]
Analysis of Donald Trump's tax plan shows that:
"In its second decade, Trump's plan would lead to revenue losses of $15 trillion. Taking into account additional interest costs, the proposal would add $11.2 trillion to the national debt by 2026 and $34.1 trillion by 2036, according to the report."
"The top 0.1 percent of taxpayers would receive an average tax cut of more than $1.3 million in 2017, or almost 19 percent of their after-tax income. Middle-income households would receive an average tax cut of $2,700, or 4.9 percent of their after-tax income, according to the report."
Until what time as Donald Trump tells the nation what loopholes he would close, what tax deductions he would end, and which federal programs he would cut, the above analysis is the best information we have available. Far from Senator Sanders plan, Donald Trump's tax policy would significantly cut federal revenue, increase deficits, and grow the national debt. As far as the minimum wage is concerned, Senator Sanders wants to raise it to $15/hour over the next several years, Donald Trump is content with allowing it to remain at the same rate it has been since 2009, $7.25/hour.
Foreign Policy and War:Sanders:
“I will vote for this resolution because I believe that the use of force is one tool that we have at our disposal to fight against the horror of terrorism and mass murder. One tool but it is not our only tool, and it is something that must be used wisely… and with great discretion.“
Senator Sanders opposed the Gulf War and Desert Storm, supported the initial invasion of Afghanistan, voted against the Invasion of Iraq, opposed the 2009 troop surge, and ultimately, in 2008, voted against continued spending of the war in Afghanistan.
On ending the war in Afghanistan he had this to say:
"This year alone , we will spend about $100 billion on that war. In my view, it is time for the people of Afghanistan to take full responsibility for waging the war against the Taliban. While we cannot withdraw all of our troops immediately, we must bring them home as soon as possible. I appreciate the president’s announcement, but I believe that the withdrawal should occur at significantly faster speed and greater scope."
From Senator Sanders official campaign website we have these four guiding principles for foreign policy:
Move away from a policy of unilateral military action, and toward a policy of emphasizing diplomacy, and ensuring the decision to go to war is a last resort.
Ensure that any military action we do engage in has clear goals, is limited in scope, and whenever possible provides support to our allies in the region.
Close Guantanamo Bay, rein in the National Security Agency, abolish the use of torture, and remember what truly makes America exceptional: our values.
Expand our global influence by promoting fair trade, addressing global climate change, providing humanitarian relief and economic assistance, defending the rule of law, and promoting human rights.
Senator Sanders wants to end America's role as "policemen of the world," prefering diplomacy and influence over regieme change and warfare.
"The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don't kid yourself. When they say they don't care about their lives, you have to take out their families,"
[Killing innocent men, women, and children, is a violation of the Hague Conventions, and the Fourth Geneva Convention, and as such is considered an international war crime, and a crime against humanity.]
When asked by Howard Stern in 2002 if he supported the proposed invasion of Iraq, Donald Trump had this to say“Yeah I guess so." This year his opinion on the Iraq war was "By the time the war started, I was against the war, and there are articles—I mean, there are headlines in 2003 and 2004—that I was totally against the war."
Due to the conflicting nature of his comments it is unclear whether Donald Trump did support the Iraq war, as he stated in 2002, or if he opposed the Iraq war, as he stated fourteen years later in 2016.
On WMDs in Iraq:
On February 13th, 2016 Donald Trump believed "They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none and they knew there were none." On February 19th, 2016 he expanded that "I don't know if he lied or not. He could have lied. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. I guess you'd have to ask him."
Due to the conflicting nature of his comments it is unclear whether Donald Trump believes that the Bush Administration lied about WMDs, as he stated on February 13th, or if he believes that the Administration could have been speaking truthfully, as he stated on February 19th.
On October 6th, 2015, Donald Trump had this to say about Afghanistan: "We made a terrible mistake getting involved there [Afghanistan] in the first place. At some point, are they going to be there for the next 200 years? At some point what's going on? It's going to be a long time." However on October 20th of that year, his opinion was that "We made a mistake going into Iraq. I've never said we made a mistake going into Afghanistan."
Due to the conflicting nature of his comments it is unclear whether Donald Trump believes that the war in Afghanistan was a mistake, as he stated on October 6th, or if he never said it was a mistake, as he stated on October 20th.
On refugees from the Syrian civil war:
September 9th, 2015 "but on a humanitarian basis, you have to [accept them] ... There's no question about it. They're living in hell, and something has to be done.", September 10th, 2015 "I think we should help, but I think we should be very careful because frankly, we have very big problems. We're not gonna have a country if we don't start getting smart.", and on October 3rd, 2015 "If they come in, and if I win, they're going back. They're going back,".
Due to the conflicting nature of his comments it is unclear whether Donald Trump believes that we should allow Syrian refugees into this country, as he stated on September 9th, if they aren't a cause for concern, as he stated on September 10th, or if he'll deport them back to the warzone in Syria, as he stated on October 3rd.
In terms of foreign policy positions:
Donald Trump's official website focuses primarily on slowing legal and illegal immigration. Stating that he will build a wall, deport all undocumented workers, end birthright citizenship, and make legal immigration and refugee status harder to obtain.
Currently little is known about how Donald Trump would deal with problems like ISIS beyond the fact that "I would bomb the shit out of 'em. I would just bomb those suckers. That's right. I'd blow up the pipes. ... I'd blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left."
Senator Sanders supports less military intervention in wars that don't directly involve us, preferring instead to support our allies, and work within military coalitions, as compared to Donald Trump, who may or may not agree with Senator Sanders depending on when you ask him. Currently all we know about Donald Trump's foreign policy for certain is that he wants to build a wall, limit legal and illegal immigration, bomb ISIS, and bomb their families.
“We are moving rapidly away from our democratic heritage into an oligarchic form of society where today we are experiencing a government of the billionaires, by the billionaires, and for the billionaires.”
Senator Sanders wants to overturn Citizens United, which allows unlimited money to be funneled into electoral politics, both from sources domestic, and abroad. Pass the DISCLOSE Act, which would require political candidates to make public all their controbutions, and their source. Make election day a federal holiday, so that voters may have the day off from work to vote. End gerrymandering, which allows political parties to draw "safe districts" where their candidate cannot lose, and fight against voter suppression. Move towards publically funded elections, to allow everyone running for office an even playing field. And he wants to introduce Instant Runoff Voting, allowing third party candidates a better chance at winning elected office.
Senator Sanders' goal is to give every candidate a balanced playing field, from pushing foreign money out of election, to ending safe districts and rampant Gerrymandering, to instituting Instant Runoff Voting so that voting third party won't be tantamount to a wasted ballot.
The phrase "citizens united" is mentioned four times on DonaldJTrump.com, stating that it was "Disasterous."
[It should be noted that Donald Trump is friends with the President of Citizens United, David Bossie, and that in 2014 he donated $100,000.00 to the Citizens United Foundation.]
On the current campaign finance system, Donald Trump had this to say:
"Before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them, two years later, three years later, I call them... And that's a broken system."
On the topic of campaign finace reform, Donald Trump explained:
“I love the idea of campaign finance reform,”
Unfortunately, beyond loving campaign finance reform, he hasn't explained his plan to achieve reform, nor has he cited any specific policy positions on the matter.
On disclosure of campaign finances, he has said:
“One of the things you should do is everybody should be known. If somebody gives a million or two million or five million it should be known,”
Unfortunately it is unknown whether or not Donald Trump supports the DISCLOSE act, as he has not commented on the matter.
On voter fraud:
“This voting system is out of control. You have people, in my opinion, that are voting many, many times. They don’t want security, they don’t want cards.”
[It should be noted that there is no statistical evidence to support the theory that in-person voter fraud is a significant problem in the United States.]
I was unable to find any specific policy positions in the matter of election reform, beyond Trump's willingness to overturn the Citizens United Decision. There is no information regarding Trump's position on gerrymandering, campaign finance reform, electoral reform, voting reform, or the DISCLOSE Act. This is in stark contrast to Senator Sanders, who not only has the same desire for reform that Donald Trump does, but also has specific policy positions that he supports, in addition to a plan for their implementation.
While both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump speak to the anger that many of us feel at modern institutions and established politics, one candidate has a very clear and concise plan for the direction of this country, the other does not. One candidate wants to raise the minimum wage, protect net neutrality, and combat climate change, the other does not. One candidate wants to replace unilateral war with diplomacy, the other wants to commit war crimes. One candidate respects your freedom of speech, the other might sue you if you suggest he's a millionaire and not a billionaire. One candidate has a fully funded tax plan, the other has a tax plan that would increase the budget deficit and grow the debt. One candidate wants to reform the financial system and make it fairer for 99% of Americans, the other was made a billionaire by the same financial system he claims that he wants to reform.
Before you decide to join our opposition, you should know what they believe.