What’s left of the left?

Silvia Burian, Writer

The 2016 election has not for one moment been a dull one. But, in this whirlwind of slander and polarized stances it can certainly get confusing. So let me break it down for you: left wing, right wing, liberal or conservative? What the heck does it all mean? Well, first things first. Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the better part of this year, let’s go over our candidates.

On the Democratic side, also known as the liberal or left wing, we have Hillary Rodham Clinton. For the Republican nominee, otherwise known as the right wing or conservative, we have Donald Trump. The funny thing is that Trump was actually at one point a Democrat! Hold your pitchforks and torches for just one moment and let me explain that.

Prior to the 2016 election Trump is quoted in an interview with CNN stating , “I probably identify more as a Democrat”. In fact his own kids couldn’t vote for him in the primary elections due to the fact they hadn’t registered as Republican soon enough.

But, it gets better. Because of Federal Campaign Finance Laws you can actually look up who Mr.Trump has donated to in the past. Between 1989 and 2011 he has donated about $1.3 million, 54 percent of it going to Democrats; if you go back to 2008 there are donations to none other than Hillary Clinton herself, according to the Federal Election Commission.

So why the change? Well it’s not illegal to change your political stance and Mr.Trump has certainly done that quite a few times. But that’s a whole other story. The important thing is to focus on what his policies are now, which is a difficult thing to do considering he usually just talks in circles. Frankly the only “policy” of his on which I’m absolutely sure about is his stance on immigration.

Well, that and his flagrant disrespect to women. Rick Perry, former governor of Texas and a Republican, might have just said it best: “What Mr. Trump is offering is not conservatism, it is Trumpism—a toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense.”

However, when you hear things like “Hillary isn’t even liberal” you begin to worry about the next four years of your life. Especially when you’re a college student. So let’s take another step back.

Why is it that some people seem to believe that our Democratic nominee doesn’t keep to the left? Well if you look at who she was running against in the primaries, it becomes a bit more clear. Compared to Bernie Sanders who prefers to call himself a “democratic socialist,” it’s easy to see how some people might get that idea. Add to that the fact that Clinton receives corporate backing, and you can see the problem.

Have you ever seen those mind twisters where the same color is put against two different backgrounds (usually black and white)?  The shade of the color  looks completely different, but when you cover the backgrounds you see that they are in fact the same. Same deal here.

While Hillary may not be quite as liberal as Sanders, it does not mean that she herself is not a liberal. In actuality she was rated the 11th most liberal Senator in the Senate. Her policy stances include: going after the shadow banking industry, raising minimum wage, tuition-free in-state education for families making less than $85,000 a year, setting a minimum tax on higher incomes and closing taxation loopholes for big business.

Additionally Clinton hopes to have 33 percent of energy coming from renewable sources by 2027. Even before campaigning for President Clinton, as first lady, lobbied against a bankruptcy bill that would have threatened spousal and child support. If that isn’t liberal, then I’m not sure I know what is.

Of course, at the end of the day presidential campaigns are all talk and it takes them being in office to see if any action can actually be pursued and then accomplished. Each candidate’s take on their party varies year by year. But for those who may worry there is no Left Wing this election, rest assured.

Political parties have been a convoluted entity since the beginning of the Democratic System as they have gone through different names and different meanings. Once upon a time to be a Republican actually meant to be “liberal”. A clear example of the changing party meanings is  Abraham Lincoln. He was  elected the first Republican Party President, however his political views were by no means conservative.

As of today there is indeed a “liberal” and “left wing” candidate; however what that means to you is entirely dependent on your own ideas. So research each candidate’s campaign and decide  what’s important to you, but be sure to vote come this fall.

The left is still very much alive, but in order for our democratic system to thrive as well, remember to vote!