After watching the recent Republican and Democratic national conventions, many people might assume that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are polar opposites on every key political issue. But political analysts know the truth: these two politicians have shifted their stance on many key issues through the years. Some would say their ideas have “evolved”; cynics would complain they are typical politicians who have no principles and will say or do anything to get elected. However you feel about Clinton and Trump, the candidates are, or have been, much closer in agreement on some key issues than many people would think.
5. Cracking Down on Illegal Immigration
Donald Trump has been criticized and parodied for his vow to build a “yuge wall” between the U.S. and Mexico, and even make Mexico pay for it. He’s been portrayed as racist for wanting to prevent immigrants from entering the U.S. While she’s not as openly antagonistic to illegal immigrants as Trump, Hillary Clinton has taken a strong stand on the issue. In 2005, Clinton said, “I am adamantly against illegal immigrants.” In 2006, Sen. Clinton voted for the Secure Fence Act, authorizing the construction of a 700-mile-long fence along the U.S./Mexican border. Then at a political event in New Hampshire in November 2015, when asked about securing the U.S./Mexican border, Clinton said, “Well, look. I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in. And I do think you have to control your borders.”
4. Raising Taxes on the Wealthy
Clinton’s stance on this issue has been consistent. She says that the wealthy should pay their “fair share” of taxes, and specifically mentioned that millionaires should have a 30 percent tax rate, rather than paying “10 percent to nothing in some cases.” Trump’s current stance is that he will try to cut taxes for everyone. But he’s waffled on the issue; in the past year, he’s mentioned several times he supports higher taxes on the wealthy. In August 2015, Trump told Bloomberg, “I would let people making hundreds of millions of dollars a year pay some tax, because right now they are paying very little tax and I think it’s outrageous.”
When ABC asked Trump in May if he was comfortable, as a wealthy person, paying more taxes, he agreed: “I am willing to pay more. And you know what? Wealthy are willing to pay more. We’ve had a very good run.”
3. Opposition to Free Trade
Donald Trump has riled the Republican establishment by opposing the party’s longtime support for free trade issues. He’s blamed free trade for the decline in middle-class wages in recent years. Along those lines, he’s tried to paint Clinton as a pro-free trade candidate. Trump pointed out that Clinton backed NAFTA — which was signed into law by Bill Clinton — and that she has supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership (she once called it the “gold standard” for trade agreements).
Complicating matters for Clinton is the fact that Bernie Sanders has sounded Trump-like in opposing free trade. So Clinton’s stance on free trade has changed. In October 2015, she voiced her opposition to the TPP. “It was just finally negotiated last week, and in looking at it, it didn’t meet my standards. … And I want to make sure that I can look into the eyes of any middle-class American and say, ‘this will help raise your wages.’ And I concluded I could not.”
2. Rebuilding the National Infrastructure
At a political rally in May, Clinton proposed a major national infrastructure program. “I will put forward a plan that is as big — in fact bigger in some ways — than what President Eisenhower did when he created the interstate highway system.” In terms of specifics, Clinton says she would propose a $275 billion infrastructure plan. Trump has also repeatedly vowed support for a major infrastructure initiative, at one point saying the country needs a “trillion-dollar rebuilding program.”
1. Raising the Minimum Wage
In a GOP debate in November 2015, Trump stood firmly against increasing the minimum wage: “Taxes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world,” he said. Trump has since changed his tune, saying in May that “people have to get more.” When ABC asked him if that represented a total shift in his policy, he agreed. “Sure, it’s a change. I’m allowed to change. But my real minimum wage is going to be — I’m going to bring companies back into this country, and they’re going to make a lot more than the $15 even.”
Trump now says that states should enact their own wage increase, rather than a federal increase. That is a very similar position to what Clinton holds. During the Democratic primaries, as Bernie Sanders and his supporters used the battle cry for a $15 per hour national minimum wage, Clinton walked a political tightrope. While she did not want to alienate those in favor of “Fight For $15,” she is economically savvy enough to understand that while a $15 wage might work in Chicago, San Francisco and other big cities, it might be economically disastrous in rural areas. While Clinton personally favors an approach that would let different areas set their own minimum wage, the Democratic Party platform supports the $15 national minimum.
One More: Clinton Helped Launch the Obama ‘Birther’ Movement
This is certainly not an issue in this campaign, but Trump has been blasted for his support of the “birther” movement questioning whether President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. or Africa. But where did the birther idea start? With Sen. Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, when she found herself in a tough battle with Obama in the Democratic primaries.
– Caricature photo credit: Donkey Hotey via Flickr