UB political science professors weigh in on who they’re voting for and why


The Spectrum interviewed two political science professors to discuss their picks for the presidential election. Political science professor Michelle Benson will be voting for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Political science professor James Campbell will be voting for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Benson believes Clinton’s lifelong political and policy experience makes her fit for presidency while Campbell believes Trump is more likely to recover the nation’s economy.

Professor Benson

Q: Why are you voting for Clinton? Which of her platforms appeal to you?

A: I want to start my answer by stating that regardless of one’s preferences for a particular candidate, I would hope that everyone takes pride in their ability to vote and take part in the political process. One of the reasons why I will be voting for Hillary Clinton as president is that I believe she has an excellent understanding of American foreign policy and a firm grasp of the complexity of American and world politics.

Specifically, Clinton recognizes that American alliances, treaties and trade agreements even when signed by prior presidents she might not have supported, cannot and should not be summarily rejected or renegotiated. Countries enter into agreements with the U.S. because they believe that the U.S. negotiates in good faith. The president, the Senate and Congress only enter into international agreements after much deliberation. It is essential for other countries to believe that the U.S. is a reliable partner for future agreements because we honor our promises.

Clinton understands that playing fast and loose with treaties would lead to lower levels of trade and investment and could have very negative impacts on our economy. I am glad that Clinton stands by our current, hard-won treaties so that the U.S. can continue to work with international partners and find new ones to help address global conflict and terrorism.

Clinton has also very importantly explained that she supports treaties and agreements that limit nuclear proliferation and is willing to counter and directly address the generally expansionist and aggressive foreign policies of other world powers such as Russia and China.

I also strongly agree with Clinton that climate change is real and is affected by human activity and industry. I am thus very supportive of her focus on the technology and development of renewable energy. I agree with her support of the Paris Climate Pact and the new global limits on HFC emissions.

Domestically, the United States is the strongest economy in the world and outstrips other developed states in terms of growth and unemployment. Like all developed states, the U.S. has been affected by the global recession. However, despite these tough economic times, the U.S. economy has grown 10.8 percent since 2008 while Europe has only grown 0.6 percent and Japan has grown 0.1 percent over this period. Our unemployment is at 4.9 percent while other developed [countries] are at a higher level of 6.5 percent unemployment. The National Bureau of Economic Research has shown that over the past 50 years the highest U.S. growth rates have occurred under Democratic presidents and the lowest have occurred under Republican presidents. On average, the U.S. economy grows more under Democratic presidents than under Republican policies and presidents. I support what I feel is the more fiscally responsible and pragmatic economic policy of Hillary Clinton.

For all of the above reasons, and more, I will be voting for Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8.

Q: What are your thoughts on people who say Clinton is untrustworthy, especially in reference to her private email account?

A: In terms of trusting someone to do the right thing for the United States as chief executive and leader of the strongest country in the planet – Clinton is eminently more trustworthy than Trump.

In regard to her private e-mail account, I don’t think it was a good decision (Colin Powell also had a private e-mail account) and I am very glad that she has repeatedly said it was a mistake and taken responsibility for it. I think it is important to note that over two years of congressional investigations, 10 congressional committees, over 200 witnesses and a yearlong investigation from the FBI, there was no evidence that she did anything illegal.

With regards to the e-mails found in Anthony Weiner’s computer, the FBI has stated in its letter to Congress that it is reviewing the e-mails to see whether they were or were not classified and the letter states, “the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant.” Because the FBI has effectively said they have no new evidence one way or the other and has already had over a month and a half to investigate these e-mails, I am not letting the letter to Congress affect my vote. Hopefully the FBI will release the e-mails as Clinton has publicly and repeatedly requested.

Q: Which, if any, platforms of Clinton's do you disagree with?

A: I disagree with Clinton in that she does not support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. Limiting trade barriers has been beneficial to the U.S. economy as a whole. Canada and the European Union just signed a large trade deal that will benefit Canadian companies by billions of dollars and cut red tape for exports to Europe from Canadian countries. A similar deal has been put on hold for a U.S. and Europe agreement. I hope that Clinton would support that trade deal. However, it, unfortunately, seems that both Clinton and Trump are moving away from such trade treaties.

Q: What makes Trump unqualified to be president?

A: Trump has illustrated time and again that he has little to no understanding about how the U.S. government works and that he does not respect the limits of the powers of the president. The presidency is not a position where there is any room to “learn on the job.” He has also clearly stated, in more words and actions than I can count, that he believes not all Americans are worthy of the same treatment, respect and protection of the law depending on one’s ethnicity, gender or religion.

As a political scientist, I find it stunning that a presidential candidate would propose policies that are against the constitution, international law and longstanding American tradition. Trump has said he would order U.S. soldiers to kill the families of people who commit terrorist crimes against the US, that he would ban individuals from visiting or immigrating to the U.S. based on their religion, that a person’s ethnicity might disqualify them from doing their job, and that he supports racial profiling – all policies that are unconstitutional and illegal.

Trump has also suggested that he would use the presidency to pursue personal vendettas against judges and his political opponent. These actions would be an abuse of presidential power.

All of the above factors, in my view, make him unqualified to be President of the United States. In addition, I believe that his personal attacks and derogatory treatment of women, his unwillingness to immediately and categorically disavow publicly racist supporters, his embrace of the “birther” arguments against President Obama and his refusal to release his tax returns make him unsuited to serve as president.

Q: Are there any platforms/ideas of Trump's that you agree with?

A: I agree with both Trump and Clinton that there should be increased investment in infrastructure. However, it seems to me Clinton has a more responsible platform to pay for this development. Under Trump’s economic plan, the Wall Street Journal noted that U.S. debt would be projected to be 105 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and under Clinton’s it would be 86 percent. Currently, public debt is about 75.5 percent of GDP. I would prefer that both candidates bring that number below 76 percent instead of the projected approximately 11 percent debt increase that Clinton proposes and 30 percent debt increase that Trump proposes.

Q: If Clinton is elected, what impact would it have on the country?

A: The U.S. would be in a much better position to interact with other global powers if Clinton is elected president. She has more foreign policy experience than any presidential candidate in modern history. Her detailed knowledge of the issues, of current U.S. policy and her view of the U.S.’s place in the world suggest to me that she is the best candidate to provide for U.S. stability and security.

Her lifelong political and policy experience on the impacts and nuances of health care, families and education also suggests that her policies will focus on benefiting the majority of U.S. citizens. I would expect her presidency to focus on practical and obtainable policies and for her to work well with Congress as she did when she was Senator for New York.

Professor Campbell

Q: Why are you voting for Trump? Which of his platforms appeal to you?

A: Trump is basically running as a conservative. In general, this means he supports lower taxes, less government spending and less government regulation leading to greater growth in the economy.

His policies emphasize gaining control of our immigration, enforcing our laws and striking better trade deals with other nations. He favors addressing our looming national debt crisis. He favors a more restrained foreign policy and having our allies share more in the cost of maintaining the peace, but also a more aggressive approach to ending the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.

Q: What are your thoughts on people who say Trump is untrustworthy?

A: I do not regard either Trump or Clinton as highly trustworthy or honest (or even particularly admirable) people. The key difference for me, at this point, is that Clinton has been dishonest in dealings regarding national public policy. There is an interesting 13 or 14 minute YouTube video of Hillary Clinton contradicting herself on public media on a variety of issues and matters.

Then there is how Clinton, via Debbie Wasserman Schultz at the DNC, treated the Bernie Sanders campaign. Once it was revealed, via Wikileaks, Wasserman Schultz was forced out of the DNC and immediately given a position in the Clinton campaign. Trump is not trustworthy, but Clinton is even less trustworthy.

Q: Which, if any, platforms of Trumps do you disagree with?

A: I think his proposed temporary ban on the immigration of Muslims was wrong. I don't think Mexico is going to be paying for the border wall and I would favor some kind of policy regarding guns that would require biolocks, much like most of us have on our iPhones.

Q: What makes Clinton unqualified to be president?

A: This answer could be book length, but let me hit the highlights. She offers a continuation of the Obama policies that have led to seven years of weak and sluggish economic growth, over 40 million Americans on food stamps seven years after the "Great Recession," a fragile economy dependent on the "bubbles" of temporarily low energy prices and unsustainably loose monetary policies, an overly aggressive regulatory climate, racial divisions, growing income inequality, an expensive and collapsing national healthcare system, continued international terrorism and a wide array of international disasters in the Middle East (Syria, Libya, Iran, Iraq, etc.).
Like a majority of Americans, I do not find her to be trustworthy. She would not even report that she had pneumonia until she was forced by events and some embarrassing iPhone videos being tossed into the back of a limo at the 9/11 commemoration event to do so. Telling the truth, for Clinton, seems to be the last option to take.
The FBI director concluded that she had been "extremely careless" in handling confidential and top secret national information from her unsecured servers in violation of national laws – though he initially declined to recommend an indictment, he has recently reopened the case.
She was involved in what appears to me to be a "shake down" of Wall Street companies to the tune of over $20 million for giving brief secret speeches that were a way of laundering the payoffs. While Secretary of State, she appeared to be engaged in a pay-to-play arrangement whereby those who gave to The Clinton Foundation,
including representatives of foreign governments, got special treatment at the State Department. Then there is Benghazi – she sent an American ambassador into a very dangerous position, refused extra security help when he requested it, did not withdraw him from the dangerous area after the extra security was denied, did not provide for security forces in the area should they be needed, and once he and three other Americans
were brutally murdered by radical Islamic terrorists, she reported that the attack on them had been inspired by an offensive and ridiculous YouTube movie rather than an organized terrorist attack. I could go on, but I think this enough.

Q: Are there any platforms/ideas of Clinton's that you agree with? If so, which ones?

A: I can't think of any at the moment.

Q: If Trump is elected, what impact will it have on the country?

A: I suspect that the next president is going to have a number of messes to deal with both domestically (the economic bubbles will burst once energy prices go back up) and internationally. President Obama seems like a good guy and people like him, but I think he has left us with a number of time bombs – from the economy to Iran. Whether the next president is Trump or Clinton, either will run into some big problems. My fear is that Clinton will follow the same path as Obama. Trump is more likely to get the economy back on track and that would lessen the severity of many of our problems.

Evan Grisley is the features editor and can be reached at evan.grisley@ubspectrum.com

Ashley Inkumsah is the senior news editor and can be reached at ashley.inkumsah@ubspectrum.com