The Rundown on the Current Democratic Candidates

Leah Lentz, Writer

With the democratic primaries fast approaching, and the political climate constantly shifting, it’s easy to find oneself confused by the candidates and their viewpoints. Here is the rundown on the current candidates in the 2020 Democratic Primaries.

Joe Biden

As a former vice president of the United States, Joe Biden is a comfortable call back to the days of the Obama administration. However, that might not necessarily be a good thing. Biden does stand as a favorite candidate for older Democratic people – he’s not nearly as radical as Bernie Sanders – and he’s familiar.

As for Biden’s viewpoints, they’re fairly liberal. He wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 and decriminalize marijuana. He plans to make it free to obtain an associate’s degree, increase the salary for teachers, and expand or fix college debt programs. In terms of climate change, he plans to tax carbon emissions and develop new nuclear technologies. He wants to begin a voluntary assault rifle buyback program and establish universal background checks. He opposes medicare for all.

Furthermore, Biden has an outstanding resume. At the age of 29, Biden was elected as a senator for Delaware and served from 1973 until 2009, when he became vice president under Barack Obama.  This amounts to 43 total years spent involved in American politics.

With his experience, one may ask why Joe Biden is unpopular among young democrats. The reasoning is quite simple – he doesn’t appeal to a youthful demographic as he hasn’t attempted to reach out to them like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. He also previously earned the nickname “Creepy Uncle Joe” for his tendency to stand close to and/or touch women, and last June, multiple women came forward to speak on previous interactions with Creepy Uncle Joe.

Overall, while Biden is a “safe” bet, this may not mean that he is the best candidate.

Michael Bloomberg

An eleventh-hour candidate, Michael Bloomberg announced his campaign on November 24, 2019 – less than three months before the first presidential primary is slated to take place. A graduate of both John Hopkins and Harvard, he started his own company which grew quickly and made him a billionaire. He is currently worth $56 billion.

Bloomberg is a supporter of Everytown for Gun Safety, and bases much of his platform on improving gun control and safety. He plans to ban assault rifles, mandate universal background checks, and crackdown on gun trafficking. He wants to increase the federal minimum wage to $15/hour. He also opposes medicare for all.

In terms of resume, Bloomberg served three terms as the mayor of New York City from 2002 until 2013 and has previously written multiple books. Besides this, he is arguably one of the more politically inexperienced candidates.

What makes Bloomberg unpopular is the sheer amount of money he has. With a net worth of, again, $56 billion, Bloomberg funded his own campaign. This doesn’t pander to those within the voting population that is against billionaires holding too much power within the federal government, nor does it cater to those struggling with debt.

Pete Buttigieg

Mayor Pete is a small fish in a big pond. A small-town mayor, he speaks at least six languages, is married to a man, and he has two dogs that share a twitter account. He draws support from policemen and southerners as an episcopalian, homegrown candidate. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford, Buttigieg is the youngest candidate currently running.

Buttigieg opposes medicare for all and supports the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana. He plans to tax carbon emissions and supports nuclear power. He supports a buyback program in terms of gun control and is in favor of universal background checks. He does not want to impose limits on abortion.

In terms of resume, Buttigieg is not as experienced as the other candidates. He is the two-term mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and served overseas as an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve. 

Aside from his lack of experience, Buttigieg is unpopular among some voters because of his tendency to stretch the truth. A prime example of this is how he claims he “turned around” his hometown of South Bend. While this isn’t necessarily a lie in some regards (the unemployment rate was cut in half), the town still made the USA Today list of worst towns to live in in 2018 due to its high violent crime and poverty rates. To give credit where credit is due, Buttigieg turned the town from Newsweek’s dying town list to a town that’s slowly coming back to life, even if it’s taking time.

Tulsi Gabbard

As the U.S. representative from Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard is the first Hindu representative in Congress. She was deployed twice to Iraq (2004-2005) and Kuwait (2008-2009). She made headlines recently when she announced that she would be suing Hillary Clinton for defamation, and has made it clear that she did not come to play games.

Gabbard is a strong anti-interventionist, having seen war’s effect firsthand. She is for medicare for all but would settle for medicare for some. She wants to abolish the death penalty and private prisons, and in 2015, Gabbard proposed a bill that would convert all American energy to clean energy by 2035, demonstrating consistency in her beliefs. She supports free college.

As for experience, Gabbard served in the Hawaii State legislature at the young age of 21. She was the first woman to serve in the Hawaii National Guard and has been re-elected to the House of Representatives three times.

Her viewpoints and experience do not make her unpopular; rather, she has been reported as “the Democrat that Republicans Love and the DNC Can’t Control” by the Washington Post due to her unflinching ability to speak her mind. Gabbard has never shied away from criticism, and would rather call media companies and her fellow candidates out than make friends with her political rivals.

Tulsi Gabbard is a firecracker, but she regularly polls at 1% or less, boding poorly for her possible candidacy.

Amy Klobuchar

A Yale graduate with a B.A. in political science, Klobuchar is a lawyer-turned-political activist after a negative experience in the healthcare system. She gained popularity during the hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, in which she was level-headed in contrast to his irate nature.

Klobuchar plans to expand medicare and increase the number of temporary work visas available in response to illegal immigration. She wants to legalize marijuana and to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour. She would like to make two years of college free and increase the teaching salary.

Klobuchar was originally a county attorney in Hennepin County, Minnesota before becoming a citizen lobbyist to extend the hospital window of admission. After passing this law (first within Minnesota, and later nationally), Klobuchar ran for Senate and won three times, most recently winning 60% of the vote.

What affects Klobuchar’s popularity most strongly is her low-key presence. She isn’t as progressive or radical as fellow candidate Bernie Sanders nor is she boastful of her achievements within the Senate. This may, unfortunately, work against her – it affects how memorable she is to voters.

Despite Klobuchar’s experience and passion, she is polling at 3%, although these numbers could shortly change.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders is 78 years old, the oldest candidate in the election, and describes himself as a democratic socialist. Popular among younger democrats, Sanders ran for president in 2016 before conceding the nomination to Hillary Clinton. He has been endorsed by innumerable people, including but not limited to actor Danny Devito, activist Shaun King, and actress Elizabeth Gillies.

Sanders wants to abolish the death penalty and private prisons as well as increase the salary for teachers to $60,000 a year. He plans to cancel student debt and make college free. Furthermore, he is pushing to allow voting while incarcerated and plans to induce a buyback program for assault rifles. He also plans on enacting universal background checks. He also plans to legalize and decriminalize marijuana.

Sanders’ resume goes beyond government work. He was an active member of both the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam war movement, which would eventually guide him into politics. He became the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in 1981, and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1990. He was then reelected until he ran for Senate, which he also succeeded in. 

Why is “The Bern” controversial? The answer is simple – he’s is one of the most progressive candidates and some feel he is too far to the left.   Sanders believes that college should be free, believes in Medicare for all, believes in voting while incarcerated, and as a country, more conservative Democrats feel we might not be ready to “Feel the Bern.”  However, among recent polls, Sanders is currently leading all Democrats in Iowa (3.6% lead) New Hampshire (9.5% lead) and California (4.8% lead) according to the website   

Tom Steyer

Another last-minute candidate, Tom Steyer is a billionaire that has founded multiple businesses. He attended Yale University, majoring in economics and political science. He founded a hedge fund company, where he worked for two decades before deciding to focus his money on activism. 

Steyer has a plan worth trillions of dollars in order to solve the climate crisis, and supports a buyback program for assault rifles. He believes that Americans should have a constitutional right to clean water, and is in favor of legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana. He is in favor of a national weapons registry.

In terms of resume, Steyer has absolutely no experience with holding a political office. His only justification is being a philanthropist, due to his many small corporations, he started to help people. A notable corporation would be OneRoof Inc., which provides internet access to small communities in India and Mexico.

Steyer is unpopular due to his status as a billionaire and his lack of experience. As previously stated, he has no experience in political office, and the primaries this year are centered on relatability and experience – neither of which Steyer particularly excels with.

Elizabeth Warren

Often regarded as a “watered down Bernie Sanders”, Elizabeth Warren studied law at Rutgers University and became interested in politics after a controversial bankruptcy bill was passed in 1978. She gained notoriety for the claim that she was native American by blood which, while proven true, was a bizarre and uncalled for move.

Warren plans to ban assault rifles and implement universal background checks. She also plans to make college free and increase the salary for teachers. She heavily supports medicare for all and wants to ban fracking as well as impose federal regulation on carbon emissions.

Warren advised the National Bankruptcy Review Commission in 1995 and testified against the plan, which passed regardless. In 2010, Obama made Warren Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was a high position to hold. In 2012, she became a senator in Massachusetts, the first woman to do so. She still holds that position.

Elizabeth Warren is one of the top four candidates, but she is losing momentum due to a recent accusation made toward fellow candidate Senator Sanders. Recently, she said that in 2018, Sanders told her that he did not believe a woman could win in 2020. Sanders has recently rebuffed this, and his supporters that were also in favor of Warren have slowly chosen sides.

Andrew Yang

Lastly, Andrew Yang is a former corporate lawyer from New York that calls his followers the “Yang Gang” and wants to implement change across the nation. He is a father of 2 boys and is an entrepreneur and CEO of multiple companies.

What sets Yang apart is his programs, and specifically the $1,000 Per Month Program. In essence, this would give all American citizens over the age of 18 $1,000 each month, which is known as universal basic income. This plan is not being researched or implemented by any other candidates.

He wants to abolish the death penalty and private prisons, and while he doesn’t believe in free college, he agrees that some college debts should be canceled. He is in favor of nuclear power and a tax on carbon emissions and opposes Medicare for all. He wants to legalize and decriminalize marijuana – this sentiment is actually on his merchandise.

What makes Yang unpopular is his outsider status. He was a political nobody until he announced his campaign. He aligns with neither party. Even furthering his outsider status is his unflinching ability to stand up to media outlets that seem to pay him no mind. However, this outsider status also popularizes him among those that aren’t in favor of Donald Trump but don’t quite view themselves as left or right – Yang is for them.

In the upcoming election, there is nothing more important than wielding the right to vote. Use your voice to enact positive change.