Most candidates intending to run for 2020 presidential election have declared, with a few outliers such as Joe Biden, Steve Bullock, and Eric Swalwell still waiting to make public decisions. On the Republican side, the only options thus far are President Donald Trump running for reelection and William Weld who has criticised Trump’s actions. On the other side, there are a whopping 14 Democratic candidates; it can be difficult for Democratic voters to sort through the differences in views on issues between the candidates. Here is a breakdown of the Democratic candidates based on their views on issues and history in supporting issues.
Cory Booker is a current senator from New Jersey and the former mayor of Newark. In his work in the Senate, he has led conversations on criminal justice reform. He has been well backed financially by the first large super PAC (Political Action Committee) of this election cycle, “Dream United,” organized by prominent Democrat donor and activist Mr. Steve Phillips. He is currently making his campaign appeal towards encouraging American citizens to be more gracious and empathetic to all social groups, even allying with Republican senators on issues like prison reform. This is a stance that some Democrats don’t find aggressive enough to dethrone Trump, and others wait to see how his wealthy campaign will run against other grassroots candidates.
Pete Buttigieg (pronounced boo-tei-geigh) is the current mayor of South Bend, Indiana, elected in 2011, and a former military veteran in Afghanistan. In his past work, he has advocated for issues like climate change and greater economic opportunities for the middle and lower class. He is openly gay and the youngest candidate at 37 years old, making him more alienated from moderates.
Julián Castro is the current mayor of San Antonio and a former housing secretary. He has promoted issues that are quickly gaining popularity among even moderate Democrats such as universal kindergarten, Medicare for all, and immigration reform. He has in the past heavily criticized President Trump’s intentions for the Mexican border, and continually refers to his Mexican roots. Some predict that Castro’s relation with Hispanic voters will help him win states like Texas, California and Arizona.
John Delaney is a former congressman from Maryland and a seasoned businessman. He actually declared his intention to run in July of 2017, and has been campaigning in almost every county in Iowa ever since. He proposes greater bipartisan collaboration, embracing a “bipartisan approach to infrastructure and international tax reform.” He also refers to his blue-collar background, which appeals to moderates in the Midwest.
Tulsi Gabbard is a current congresswoman from Hawaii and a veteran of the National Guard. Her signature issue thus far is the prevention of American military intervention overseas, especially in Middle Eastern and South American countries, in order to better use those funds. In the past she has worked with anti-gay advocacy groups, but has recently apologized in a Youtube video, citing this as prejudice instilled in her upbringing. She also supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries.
Kirsten Gillibrand (a familiar name at Ann Richards!) is a current senator from New York and a former congresswoman. She has historically focused on women’s rights and opportunity, and this is the core of her campaign. She has moved into being a populist figure, leading protests during the Kavanaugh case. She has signed legislation to decriminalize marijuana and has called to abolish ICE. Some are wary of her sudden and dramatic shift left, as in the past she has been much more moderate on issues like immigration and national security.
Kamala Harris is a current senator from California, a former attorney general of California, and a former San Francisco district attorney. She has worked on middle-class tax cut legislation and is a large advocator for civil rights, also stating her identity as the daughter of an Indian-born mother and Jamaican father. She was also one of the few new Democratic senators after 2016. As well as Booker and Klobuchar, she has become somewhat viral for her questioning of Brett Kavanaugh.
Amy Klobuchar is a current senator from Minnesota and a former Hinnepin County attorney. She appeals to moderates, and has called for a reclamation of the swing states in the Midwest. She gained a lot of press attention in the Kavanaugh case as the unflinching, intense questioner. She has worked on legislation to fight the opioid crisis and drug abuse, as well as the questionable costs of prescription medication.
Much can be said about this 77-year-old political celebrity and senator from Vermont; many Democrats are familiar and even adopting his signature issues such as universal Medicare and free college tuition paid for by the wealthy. He describes himself as a Democratic socialist, and is garnering his presidential campaign from his loss in 2016. Some speculate whether he will be backed by the same support from 2016, and how he will stand against other farther-left candidates such as O’Rourke if he finalizes his decision to run.
Elizabeth Warren is a current senator from Massachusetts and a former Harvard professor. She has long focused on economic issues such as income equality and opportunity for the middle class. She has also had a history of trading blows with President Trump, denouncing him as a “wannabe tyrant” and a “thin-skinned racist bully”. Trump also rejected her Native American ancestry, calling her “Pocahontas”; to which she controversially released her DNA test results, revealing Native American pedigree six to ten generations ago.
Marianne Williamson is the author of several self-help and spirituality books and a new age lecturer. She has proposed a slavery reparation of $100 billion dollars, as well as $10 billion for education and job-creation projects. Her website details through several liberal issues that she endorses, such as gay rights, gun control, climate change and criminal justice reform. She emphasizes a “spiritual healing” for America.
Andrew Yang is a former executive in the tech industry and the founder of an economic development nonprofit organization. The core of his long-shot campaign is the proposal of a universal income of $1,000 a month for all Americans. He is trying for the populist campaign of Sanders, already garnering quite a bit of fundraising money. Yang has also brought up interesting conversations about robotics and reform of our economy to create “human-centered capitalism.” He is also the topic of a Twitter meme thread called the Yang Stash.
John Hickenlooper is a former governor of Colorado and the former mayor of Denver. He pitches himself as the bipartisan expander in Colorado of issues like gay rights, universal Medicare and gun control. He calls himself an extreme moderate and is very pro-business as the owner of a large brewpub. Some criticise him for his weak stances on environmental protection and abortion. He appeals to purple states and continually alludes to his extensive political career and economic achievements in Colorado.
Jay Inslee is the current governor of Washington State and a former congressman. In both his work as a governor and in his campaign, combating climate change is his primary issue. He proposes a green-energy job program, and amounts legislation regarding climate change to economic and national security.
As most Texans know, Beto O’Rourke has become the younger, liberal political superstar of the Trump era after losing narrowly to Senator Ted Cruz in the 2018 election through his massive “small-donations” campaign. He has advocated in the past for immigration reform, hospital access for rural communities and marijuana legalization. He has extended his populist campaign outside of Texas and is currently traveling to states across the country to spread his name.
It’s important for high schoolers, especially current juniors and seniors, to educate themselves about the presidential candidates this election cycle if we want to see change in how our government currently operates. Vote informed and VOTE, and encourage other adults around you to do the same.
Art by Sammie Seamon.