Election 2016: Major Policy Differences Between Clinton and Trump

By Zachary Smith:

While many Americans favor voting their party affiliation once they enter the voting booth, there are plenty more who prefer to base their decision on the views, policies, and stances of the candidates. Given how divisive this election has proven to be and the lack of trust many Americans feel for candidates Donald Trump (R) and Hillary Clinton (D), outlining some of these major policy differences seems prudent to ensuring an informed electorate.


Donald Trump has taken a Pro-Life stance, stressing that life must be preserved out of a moral duty and that allowing abortion acts against that duty. Trump has, however, recognized exceptions should exist in rare but extreme scenarios such as incest, rape, or protection of the health and life of the mother.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, holds a Pro-Choice stance. She has articulated the belief that the federal government has no place prohibiting or interfering with the healthcare decisions of women.


Trump wants to put American resources, such as coal, to greater use. He’s also been vocal in his support of offshore drilling and fracking despite environmental concerns posed by some.

Clinton has pushed for green initiatives such as investing in solar power and other clean energy. She’s also stressed the job growth that such policies would offer, offsetting potential job loss as we turn away from more traditional energy sources such as coal.

Foreign Policy

Trump wants to focus on strengthening America’s military in an effort to reassert an aura of power and moral authority to the world. One major goal connected to this is combating and destroying radical Islamic threats around the world. However, it also includes goals such as using the broadened strength of our military under a Trump Presidency to influence global affairs. To that end, Trump has repeatedly argued that we should be negotiating with all foreign entities from a position of authority and power. Trump has also advocated for our allies to chip in (or chip in more) to the ever-growing and expanding costs of our defense budget, given that budget includes protecting them.

Clinton likewise wants to ensure the safety and power of the American military, but while Trump contextualizes this with the rhetoric of reinvigorating and rebuilding a weakened military – Clinton contextualizes it in terms of ensuring our military is well-equipped and technologically advanced. While Trump feels that America’s position in the world needs to be reclaimed, Clinton feels like it needs to be maintained (highlighting very different views of Obama’s legacy). Clinton doesn’t agree with Trump’s desires to essentially bill our allies for continued protection and defensive support out of concerns for the ramifications of making such demands of longtime allies. She feels we must be firm in our negotiations with rivals, but also act with wisdom and experience – something she can claim much of with her time as Secretary of State.

Gay Marriage

Trump feels that same-sex marriage should be an issue left to the states to decide, not upheld by a decision made by the Supreme Court.

Clinton feels that the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage was a step towards greater equality and has pledged to support Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual (LGBT) rights and fight discrimination.

Gun Control

Trump has been a passionate, outspoken supporter of the second amendment, and has pledged to defend the right of Americans to legally own firearms. He has also spoken about the need to make our communities safer and the need to expand access to mental healthcare to those who would be a danger to themselves or others.

Clinton has pledged to act in the name of common sense gun control by working to close loopholes that allow firearms to fall into the hands of dangerous individuals (such as the ‘Gun Show’ loophole). She has spoken of the need for comprehensive background checks and further efforts to prevent terrorists and violent criminals from obtaining weaponry that would put American lives at risk.


Trump has argued for simplifying the American tax system and reducing taxes for all Americans with a particular focus on easing the tax burden on the middle class. He’s also advocated for eliminating tax loopholes while working to energize and revitalize economic growth by lowering taxes on businesses and corporations.

Clinton has argued that the richest Americans pay too little in taxes when compared to contributions of middle class Americans (based on percentages of income). To this end she has asserted her plan to target tax loopholes that allow corporations and the wealthiest Americans (millionaires & billionaires) to avoid paying their “fair share.” Clinton has also asserted that she will work to provide tax relief to those struggling to make ends meet due to educational or medical expenses draining a working family’s income.

Veterans Affairs

Trump wants to work to correct flawed practices and corrupt leadership within the VA. He has also advocated for reducing bureaucracy and increasing access to medical care and treatment – even if that means sending veterans to private practitioners. Trump has also stressed that he will push to modernize the VA and work to end the consistent backlogs at the VA.

Clinton also wants to work to reform the VA, but is focused on efforts to set the VA on a better course instead of advocating for privatizing sections of the VA’s work. Clinton wants to overhaul the VA to ensure accountability and the highest standards of care for those who have nobly served our nation.


The above are some, not all, of the key issues in this election (scandals not included).  Now, take heart of the candidates’ policies and vote for who you believe aligns with your principals, not the party that you have always voted for.

Zachary Smith is an OpsLens Contributor and former employee at Department of Veterans Affairs. 

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