At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, it doesn't feel like a stretch to say that this is the craziest election most of us have ever seen.
It's more than choosing between a former first lady, secretary of state and senator, and a reality TV show star who moonlights as a businessman (and who happens to have bankrupted six companies over the course of his career, according to Politifact). It's even more than choosing between liberal and conservative.
It's about values, the policies you most agree with and the issues you think are most important. And that means doing your research and making up your own mind, no matter whom your SO, parents or friends may support.
More than that, this election is the first time that Generation-Y'ers will outnumber Baby Boomers. That means we Millennials have the power to actually decide this election (like literally), so we have to use that power to elect someone who will fight for us — not reverse all the progress we've made in the past decade.
To help you understand where the two candidates stand on the issues, we've put together a helpful cheat sheet of five important policy differences between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, as well as a primer on why they matter.
Donald Trump's stance on immigration (immigrants from Mexico in particular) can pretty much be summed up in one quote (or nine, according to the Huffington Post): "But you have people coming in, and I'm not just saying Mexicans, I'm talking about people that are from all over that are killers and rapists, and they're coming into this country."
For Trump, this topic is all about fear mongering.
Clinton's approach to immigration relies neither on vilifying millions of people nor on building a literal security wall. During her first 100 days in office, she wants to reform the immigration system to promote full and equal citizenship.
As a result, she promotes naturalization by waiving associated fees and encouraging education on both the process and the English language. She also wants to end regulations that effectively split families whose members have different citizenship or immigration statuses.
Why it matters:
It's the difference between denigrating immigrants and defending them. Trump argues that helping immigrants means putting "the needs of other nations ahead of our own." Clinton, on the other hand, wants to reward people who believe in the American dream and work hard to achieve it.
I'm all for being inclusive. Aren't you?
2. Gun Violence Prevention
For the Trump campaign, the Second Amendment is America's “first freedom” and a way to protect all other rights. He opposes expanding background checks, and he is so pro-arms that the NRA has officially endorsed him. There would also be no more gun-free zones — including in schools — even in the wake of tragic mass shootings like Sandy Hook and Orlando.
Clinton promises to overhaul certain laws currently on the books. She wants to expand background checks, close loopholes for online and gun show sales and keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and violent criminals.
Basically, she wants to take on the gun lobby, not reward them. She's backed by the organization Mothers of the Movement, a gun violence prevention organization founded by mothers of gun violence victims.
Why it matters:
According to FiveThirtyEight, more than 33,000 Americans suffer fatal gun shots every year, meaning millions of people are personally affected by gun violence. Plus, with so many recent news stories highlighting gun-related violence, this issue is the definition of hot-button.
But do you really want to live in a world where you have to wonder if every person who passes you on the street is carrying a concealed weapon (including President Trump himself)? I don't think so.
3. LGBTQ+ Rights
Donald Trump has been a steadfast opponent of gay marriage. Once upon a time he supported civil unions, but he now publicly opposes them. Trump has pledged to nominate judges to the Supreme Court who would overturn Obergefell vs. Hodges, the landmark ruling that legalized gay marriage.
He has also expressed support for the North Carolina law that effectively banned local governments from enacting laws that expanded rights to the LGBTQ+ community.
And last, but certainly not least: He nominated Mike Pence as his running mate. In case you didn't know, Pence is the Indiana governor who infamously signed a religious freedom law in his home state that — much like the North Carolina law — effectively set the stage for businesses to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community.
Clinton is a fierce supporter of the Equality Act, and wants to continue President Obama's pro-LGBTQ+ executive actions. She vows to support the LGBTQ+ community by ending discriminatory practices like “conversion therapy” and the policing of transgender identity.
She plans on honoring the military service of the LGBTQ+ community by backing the Pentagon's decision to allow members of the community to serve openly, and she wants to upgrade the service records of members who were dismissed because of discrimination.
Why it matters:
We're in the 21st century, people. If we can't openly support the LGBTQ+ community at this point, what progress have we even made toward equal rights for all? Just think of all your friends who identify as LGBTQ+ — what would you do if all their freedoms were rolled back? What if they were pushed back into the closet? What if an entire generation of people were too afraid to openly be who they are?
We cannot judge a person based on whom they love. It's as simple as that.
4. Women's Health
Trump urged a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare. Since the ACA covers birth control with no additional co-pay, its repeal would effectively spell a retrench in affordable contraception options for women.
But that falls in line, of course, with Trump's call to ban abortion. He's gone on record saying that he'd rather shut down the government than fund Planned Parenthood, and he also said that if he succeeded in banning the procedure women who sought abortions would have to face "some form of punishment."
Women's rights have always been a priority for Clinton. Apart from strongly supporting the ACA's affordable birth control measures, she firmly stands with Planned Parenthood — as evidenced by both their endorsement of her and her plan to expand funding for the organization.
She also wants to protect a woman's personal healthcare decisions, keep abortion safe and legal and cover HIV testing.
Why it matters:
Right now, abortion is legal, which means that the decision belongs to a woman, her doctor and anyone else SHE chooses to make the decision with. One of our candidates wants to take away this constitutionally-upheld choice, while the other wants to keep the option on the table in a safe and legal way.
Not to mention that the way you vote could affect the very existence of Planned Parenthood. Just picture your friend group: One in five of you will need to visit Planned Parenthood at some point in your life. A vote for Trump means that would no longer be possible.
5. The Economy
Donald Trump's stance on the federal minimum wage is anything but clear, but it certainly SEEMS like he supports its abolition. According to the Washington Post, he has gone on record to say that wages in the U.S. are “too high” and that “having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country.” Not that that's surprising, considering this is the candidate who used to make millions by creating his company's products in countries like Bangladesh and Honduras that use low-wage workers.
When it comes to equal pay, Trump has gone on record saying that women need to simply work as hard as men if they hope to be compensated fairly for their time and effort. If that doesn't make his opposition to equal pay clear, I don't know what does.
Raising the minimum wage is the centerpiece of Clinton's economic plan. She supports a $12 federal minimum wage — a number that the Economic Policy Institute says would affect 35 million American workers. Yet the Democratic candidate also believes that this minimum wage is just a start: She plans on encouraging states, cities and workers to bargain for higher wages where it makes sense.
A higher minimum wage would have a huge impact on all workers, particularly women, who make up nearly two-thirds of all minimum wage workers in the US. It would help close the pay gap between women and men (another injustice Clinton is committed to fighting). On this front, she also advocates for mandatory paid leave, which would prevent all women from ever having to choose between making money and taking care of their families.
Why it matters:
As a woman, it's clear to me that only one candidate is concerned with making the economy more fair for all Americans. I want a president who will fight to make life more stable for people and families in lower tax brackets — not simply keep the rich in theirs.
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