The long and the short of presidential candidates’ websites

Normally, political competitors’ websites are so off the shelf and banal that they don’t present much of a contrast.  That is not the case in the 2016 presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, which is set for official launching at the Republican and Democrat conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia, respectively, over the next two weeks.

Intentionally or not, the websites reveal much about each candidate.

Say you were visiting the Clinton and Trump websites to see what positions they stake out for themselves on education.

On Hillary Clinton’s site, under the heading “Issues,” you will find statements on no fewer than 32 subjects, beginning alphabetically with “addiction and substance abuse” and ending with “workforce skills and job training.” 

Along the way are three specifically relating to education: “Early Childhood Education,” “K–12 Education,” and “Making College Affordable and Taking on Student Debt.”

The variety of concerns Clinton deems appropriate for governmental action is remarkable.  The list evinces intent to include just about everybody and everything: protecting animals and wildlife, raising incomes and fighting inequality, rural communities, seeking a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, small business, and on and on.

For education, the Trump website has zero entries under the heading “positions.”  That’s right: as incredible as it may sound, there is absolutely nothing listed related to education as of the week before the GOP convention.

Only seven positions are spelled out: “Pay for The Wall,” “Healthcare Reform,” “U.S.-China Trade Reform,” “Veterans Administration Reform,” “Tax Reform,” “Second Amendment Rights,” and “Immigration Reform.”  And if you click on “Issue No. 1,” it sets out theoretical ways to “compel Mexico to pay for the wall,” such as tariffs and fees on visas.

His website suggests that Trump’s main themes include immigration, fair trade, and fighting terrorism and that might be politically savvy.  The education world may crave more love, but in these turbulent times, it is doubtful that many voters are focused on charter schools or class sizes.

Viewed charitably, Trump’s exclusion of education could signal his conviction that the federal government has no constitutional role in schooling, and therefore the U.S. Department of Education should be scrapped.  Perhaps Trump would block-grant the freed up megabillions and let states and localities decide how they would be most productively spent.

Viewed realistically, Trump has not bothered to think all this out.  If he had a bold plan of education devolution, it would be on his website.

On the other end of the spectrum, Hillary’s website vividly illustrates her belief that big government can solve practically any problem by manipulation and control through the use of taxation and redistribution.

With regard to education, Clinton long has pushed for subsidized universal preschool, which under her model would be shaped by Washington, D.C., but it doesn’t stop there.  Clinton is also now hawking the plan of avowed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) to make public college “free” for most American families.  Of course, because there is no free lunch, her plan, in reality, would mean sticking taxpayers with the bill more than $500 billion over ten years while further lowering intellectual standards in higher education.

While a majority of Americans currently have negative views of both major-party candidates in this November’s election, it’s unreasonable to say after examining the two candidates’ websites that there are no differences between the two.

Robert Holland ( is a senior fellow for education policy for The Heartland Institute.