Unexpected similarities & differences in 2016 presidential candidates?

2016 candidates

Your preference will depend on your views about the world, whether you think liberal or conservative methods work, etc.  In this article I’ll just try to point out some things that might not be obvious that will help you make your best choice.

  1. The Wall:  Cruz views the border with Mexico as a legal problem, needing action against drug smugglers, who are a threat to public safety, citing routing break-ins and other problems in this video interview.  Cruz is a former prosecutor.  Like many over-the-top claims, there is a grain of truth.  Mexico is dominated by violent gangs that defy the government.  It’s not impossible this phenomenon could gradually spill over into the US if we do not resist it.  How much is due to some hypothetical Mexican tendency to corruption and how much due to demand for drugs in the US is a separate issue, also deserving debate.
    .. Trump views Mexican and all border problems as economic.  Trump is a former & current businessman.  Both men view the problem and formulate solutions through the lens of their experience.  Trump’s starting negotiating position is to impose the cost of a wall on Mexico through trade tariffs, but he has stated unequivocally that all his positions are simply starting points for negotiation, not ideological, and not unilateral.  This is widely ignored by both conservatives and liberals who prefer ideology.  I take this to include Trump’s position on deporting aliens, and his method of sending them back and quickly giving them some paperwork and re-admitting them a sort of “trick” to claim a hard line but then make an end-run around it.  No wonder the Tea Party wonders if he is conservative enough.
    .. Kasich rules out deporting anyone, seemingly.
    .. Clinton and Sanders have superficially similar positions on a path to legality for the 11 million already here, but Bernie is against open borders because he actually shares Donald’s view that the border is an economic problem threatening American workers.  See article.
  2. The Economy:  Many pundits have noted the same basic economic anger drives both Sanders and Trump supporters, they just disagree on the solution according to their world view of the effectiveness of business or government at providing for people’s needs.  Clinton, Cruz and especially Kaisch who worked for Lehman before it went bust all have ties to Wall Street and the establishment, and would not likely change the economic picture.
  3. Foreign Policy:  As Secretary of State, Clinton oversaw the fostering of multiple revolutions in the Middle East, none of which have ended well and most of which haven’t ended.  One of them, Syria, resulted in the rise of ISIS, and several genocides according to now-Secretary Kerry.  Not to mention murder of an ambassador in Libya.
    .. No other candidate has a track record.  None advocate that we seize any territory or start any wars.  It is only a matter of difference of opinion as to what policies best avoid them.  Note that Ronald Reagan advocated retention of the operation of the Panama Canal by any means necessary, as president aided a revolution in Nicaragua illegally, and in a radio broadcast claiming he didn’t know the microphone was on (unlikely for an experienced actor) joked about bombing the Soviet Union.  None of the candidates today seem that overtly aggressive.  British conservative prime minister Chamberlain was famously unsuccessful at appeasing Hitler.
    .. For 30 years of the Cold War, strength and mutual assured destruction (MAD, with a history going back at least to 1870) successfully avoided nuclear war with Russia and China, and was supported by both Democrats and Republicans.  This held the civilian populations of all countries hostage.  While believed not effective against Islamic Radicals, we don’t really know because it is not used.  No one today is willing to hold civilian populations accountable for products of their culture.  A show of strength and willingness to engage groups such as ISIS is the next closest thing.  If anyone believes that accommodation of the radicals’ demands results in anything other than the US becoming an Islamic state ruled by Sharia law, they have not been so bold as to voice the opinion. Notice that on the basis of deterrence through strength, someone has already nominated Trump for a peace prize.  However, let’s wait and see.  Giving Obama a peace prize for what he said before he did anything was plainly premature in light of the Arab Spring which ended so badly, with ISIS, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which had he opposed more strongly likely wouldn’t have happened.The remaining Republican candidates are all very hawkish.
    .. Perhaps Trump is the least so, as he is most accommodating of Russia which backs Assad.  Trump is liked by Russia and Iran (which finds Republicans have simpler foreign policy views and are easier to deal with), and disliked by Mexico and Europe.
    .. Kaisch has said Assad has to go immediately.
    .. Cruz is vague on foreign policy except to say that what is best for America is best for the world, but some of his advisors advocate intervention in Syria to remove Assad, making him the most hawkish.
     .. Sanders says force must always be an option, albeit the last one, and blames the Bush Iraq war for destabilizing the Middle East and the rise of ISIS.  Strange as it may be, I entirely agree with the socialist on this one.
    .. Clinton appears much more interventionist than Obama, having advocated further intervention in Syria and Libya.  (An interesting “conspiracy theory” which just occurred to me, I wonder why no one has run with it, is that Clinton might have allowed the fall of the Benghazi consulate to try to spark US intervention.)  Obama encouraged the secession of South Sudan, which now appears to be collapsing.  It’s unclear if Clinton would be this stupid.  But she is idealistic.  Parts of her position statement on integrating with Latin American to address income inequality are reminiscent of the “world government” leanings of both Republican and Democratic elitists in the late 20th century after the decline of the Soviet Union.
  4. Abortion:  Trump has declared neutrality.  The other candidates are split along party lines.  This suggests that only Trump has any capability to attract votes from independents and Democrats to whom this issue is important.
  5. Gun Control:  Strict party-line split on this one.  Trump’s position is only a promise not to take the right to own guns away, again raising doubts about the sufficiency of his conservatism, but opening him to more support in the general election.
  6. Taxes:  Sanders promises to increase them on most of us, Clinton on the wealthy.  (I find increasingly such people imagine I am wealthy, which I’m not and it annoys me, since I’m trying to raise a family in a 1600 sq. ft. house, which they no doubt think should accommodate two other families.)  Sanders, more importantly, appears to want to force corporations to bring overseas money home without giving them any tax break on it.  The US has the highest corporate tax rate in the world.  This might just encourage those companies to move out of the country, which has already been happening.
    .. Kaisch has no coordinated position, but a tendency toward special exemptions for small business and such.
    .. The Cruz plan is a simple flat tax of 10% on those making over $36,000.  That would benefit me, since I pay nearly triple that, but even if it were the only issue I think it is so unrealistic that I couldn’t support the idea.  Too much change too fast causes disruption to the economy and loss of jobs and wealth for everyone.  Imagine how the debt would bloom?  Or does Cruz plan to simply shut down the government, which he has threatened twice as Senator?  Cruz’s tax would not even support the military.  The payroll tax for Social Security, which is 12.5% counting the employer contribution, and has no low-wage exemption, would be larger than the entire rest of the Federal Budget.  Apparently Cruz failed math in elementary school.
    .. Trump’s plan to force the repatriation of foreign business capital while making it palatable with a tax break would in the short run increase Federal tax receipts, while making the US more competitive with other countries for business, and in the long term perhaps increasing receipts through greater business activity.  Oddly, Trump shares with Clinton and Sanders the idea that the rich should not escape paying taxes, saying “I know people making a tremendous amount of money and paying virtually no taxes, and I think it’s unfair.”  Again, he is not conservative enough.
  7. Likeability vs. anger:  Before Trump entered the race, Cruz had acquired a reputation as disliked and antagonistic, and even now the anti-Trump forces will not rally behind him.  Clinton has a 25 year history of antagonizing about half the country.  Sanders admits he is angry, and attracts angry voters, but doesn’t seem personally unlikable to me.  Kaisch, I believe, is merely less well known, and though appearing civil at times, he can display a distinctly unpleasant anger when he thinks he can get away with it, such as in this interview against Trump.  So the only candidate that scores any points on my scale of likability is the socialist, and frankly I’m not socialist so I cannot decide on that basis, though of course it may be an acceptable factor for you.
  8. Domestic stability:  There are allegations that Trump is inciting violence.  I have listened to several entire Trump speeches.  He is possibly cautioning that if democratic procedure is not followed, violence might result, which is always a risk.  That is not the same thing as advocating it.  Just due caution.  Cruz seems the candidate most likely to attract violence, if he presses to implement violence-prone issues such as a prohibition of all abortion access.
  9. Likelihood of implementing promised policies:
    .. Sanders – LIKELY, since they are actually ill-defined, but dependent on gaining some support in Congressional seats.
    .. Clinton – LIKELY, since she and her husband are masters of the art of working with a hostile Congress and many can be implemented through executive action or subterfuge.
    .. Trump – UNLIKELY if you mean his starting positions, but LIKELY if you mean results of negotiations, since those are by definition whatever gets implemented.
    .. Cruz – UNLIKELY on face value for things like the flat tax, but LIKELY he would have an impact on judicial appointments, immigration and foreign policy.
    .. Kaisch – LIKELY since they are just bit points, piecemeal.

Summary.  Here is how I assume each of several viewpoints would conclude who to vote for.  But I cannot speak for you particularly.  If you have a different analysis, please post it in a comment.

  • Ideological or patriotic liberal: SANDERS – Due to position on preserving American jobs, intervention as a last foreign policy resort, progressive but not radical tax policy.
  • Practical or global liberal: CLINTON – Due to connections with Wall Street (practical), and interventionist policies, and desire to address multi-country problems (e.g. Latin America income inequality) in a governmental way.
  • Moderate: TRUMP – Due to 3 issues on which he is “not conservative enough,” non-radical tax plan which actually could increase revenue, and the claim that all his positions are open to negotiation, i.e. are not ideological.
  • Very conservative but not radical and not anti-immigrant: KAISCH – Due to mostly status-quo with minor reform positions on taxes, immigration, etc., and connections to Wall Street.
  • Radical libertarian Tea Party anti-government, but possibly American imperialist: CRUZ – Due to radical flat tax of insufficient magnitude, equating American interests with global interests and a slate of policy advisors with ties to Iran-Contra etc., inflexible law, safety or morality based positions on immigration, border walls, abortion, etc.

Please post your reactions, but also, please provide links to news articles (not just opinion rants) to back up your claims.

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