Take Your Pick: A Breakdown Of The 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates
The upcoming elections are one of grave importance, given the outcome of our last. For many voters, the main objective is to prevent the 45th President from serving another term. Finding a candidate that they agree with is secondary and there are a lot of people to choose from. The initial 20 candidates are now down to 19 (with John Hickenlooper dropping out of the race), which is still an overwhelming amount of stances to hear and have an opinion on. The diversity in America is making its way to the White House, with half of the candidates identifying as women, people of color, or gay.
According to the latest debate hosted by CNN, here are your candidates and their stances on topics like climate change, healthcare, race relations, immigration and more. No roundabout speech, no political banter, just simple viewpoints.
Pete Buttigieg is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana since 2012 and a former Navy Reserve Officer who served in Afghanistan. At 37 years old, he is the youngest running candidate but believes age does not matter, it’s one’s vision and the thoughts of the younger generations. He would like to put the popular Medicare For All plan to test with options for those who want to have it. On immigration, he believes illegal crossing should still be illegal, but the cases should be handled civilly or criminally. If fraud is involved, then it would be criminal– everything else would be civil. Buttigieg wants constitutional action to reform the structure of gun control and supports red-flag laws. On race relations, he would invest in African American progress, which includes housing, homeownership, and jobs. He plans on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in his first term and would make authorization for use of military force have a 3-year “sunset” that has to be renewed.
Elizabeth Warren is a senator from Massachusetts since 2013 and a former Harvard Law professor. She believes the government has been unfair but believes we can beat it through structural change and a grassroots movement across the country. The top 1% of billionaires and big corporations will be taxed higher ($0.02 after their 50 millionth dollar) in order to pay for her Medicare For All plan. On immigration, she thinks the current criminalization statute allows children to be separated from their families. She will decriminalize border crossing, increase border security, expand legal immigration, and provide pathways to citizenship. On climate change, she supports the green new deal, will put 2 trillion dollars into research that anyone can use, as long as products are made in the United States and then sell the products worldwide. On race relations, Warren called out white supremacy as domestic terrorism. She sees a need to acknowledge the history of race in this country and would fund HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). She would also give out loans to help close the wealth gap between black and white people. Warren commented that trade deals are done with big corporations at the table– She wants to kick them out and replace them with activists, environmentalists, union members, and farmers. She wants to sign a policy that the United States will never use nuclear weapons unless someone does first. She would use diplomatic and economic tools to resolve conflicts. And if the US is sending people to war, there needs to be a sure plan to bring them back home.
Bernie Sanders is a senator from Vermont, who served 30 years in Congress and was a runner up in the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary. He is the oldest candidate at age 77 but is not deterred by his age. He has healthcare policies for senior citizens and student debt cancellation for younger generations. His Medicare For All plan is a non-profit plan that will eliminate private insurance, have no deductibles, no copayments, offer more benefits for seniors, and will be much cheaper. He mentioned that the United States is the only country without a healthcare system like this and that our current system is too expensive. The cost of insulin in Canada is 1/10th of the price of insulin in America. He advocates for free college and health care for immigrants and believes it will not increase illegal immigration because he will have secure borders. He wants to end the demonization of immigrants, “people taking 2,000-mile trips are not criminals”. To end gun violence, Sanders wants to take on the NRA (National Rifle Association), expand universal background checks, and end gun loopholes. He supports the Green New Deal, will take on the fossil fuel industry, transform the energy and transportation system with smooth transitions. To improve race relations, he introduced his Thurgood Marshall Plan. He will focus on rebuilding and forgive student loan debt. On foreign policy, he believes the nation should focus on diplomacy and conflict resolution.
Bill de Blasio is the mayor of New York City since 2014 and was the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate run. On healthcare, de Blasio noted that people want better insurance, since copays, deductibles, and premiums are not working and are too expensive. He believes that the country needs comprehensive immigration reform and pointed out that so many people have already broken the law and have become great members of society. Although Officer Pantaleo is recently fired from the NYPD, de Blasio was questioned on why he was still on the force five years after putting Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold. He responded by saying justice will be served in 30 days and that New York City will no longer wait on the federal government. He was also questioned about the positive lead testing in NYC to which he replied that he just declared the eradication of lead. Lead has gone down 90% since 2005. They are currently going through all the buildings in NYC removing lead, something that should be done all around the country. He is focused on putting working people first and that is how he intends to beat Trump. The mayor also thinks a new NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) is necessary.
Steve Bullock is the governor of Montana, with a focus on working-class people. On immigration, Bullock believes we need a president that has the dignity and judgment to treat the people at the border as one of our own. During the debate, he quoted Obama’s homeland security agent a few times with the opinion, “free healthcare and college for immigrants will increase illegal immigration”. Bullock apparently only wanted an assault rifle ban last summer. As this was brought up during the debate, he commented saying the gun system should change by getting the dark money out of elections. He plans on beating Trump in this election by getting the voters that voted him in office back since the economy is not working for most people. In a climate change effort, he would aid in the transition to a carbon-neutral society, which he aims to reach by 2040. Senator Elizabeth Warren would like to put into policy that the United States will never use nuclear weapons unless someone else does first. Bullock disagrees with this proposal. He does not want to take nuclear weapons off the table. He does not want to be defenseless and believes there is strength in being able to defer. He would like to negotiate down from a position of power.
Marianne Williamson is an author and activist who founded a non-profit organization that helped serve people living with AIDS and other clinical illnesses. Her campaign has an emphasis on solving institutionalized hatred. On healthcare, she worries that the proposed Medicare For All plan that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren support, will be hard to govern and will ultimately make hard for democrats to win the election. She believes that in the United States, there is sickness aid when there should be more focus on the causes of said sickness like food, agriculture, the environment, and economic policies. Williamson is in favor of passing a constitutional amendment or legislation that allows public funding for federal campaigns so that candidates do not have to take donations from big corporations, thus giving them political power. She would stimulate the economy by getting rid of student debt so that students can invest in starting businesses. On the topic of climate change, Williamson brings up environmental racism. She believes we need to address the racist underbelly of the United States because it is people of color that environmental racism targets. She brings up that slavery and the continuous injustices that followed have never been addressed then proposes 200 – 500 billion in reparations. This number was reached by calculating the ‘40 acres and a mule’ promise, which would actually be trillions of dollars. She finds her number to be politically feasible and anything lower to be insulting.
John Delaney is a former congressman from Maryland and was the first youngest CEO of the New York Stock Exchange. On healthcare, he wants universal healthcare but does not want to take away private insurance from people, he wants a public option. Delaney is not a fan of the extremity of Sanders’ Medicare For All plan and believes it will lead to the closing of many hospitals. He encourages the government, private, and non-profit sectors to collaborate to create a workable solution for gun violence. Delaney plans to put a price on carbon then give back to the American people in a dividend, achieve net-zero by 2050, increase the department of energy’s budget by five, and create a market for direct air capture to take the carbon out of the atmosphere. He supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Tim Ryan is a congressman from Ohio since 2013, and a former state senator with an emphasis on rebuilding manufacturing. On healthcare, he would allow people to buy into medicare. He worries that union members would lose their hard-fought-for coverage under Sanders’ Medicare For All plan, which is all they currently have. On immigration, he believes it is important to get Trump out of office since there is a statutory authority that allows horrendous conditions for children and families. Ryan thinks he can beat Trump by focusing on working-class issues. He wants to create a Chief Manufacturing Officer to help create more things in the United States. On climate change, he would convert the agriculture system into a sustainable agriculture system, sequester carbon into the soil and put healthy foods into communities. Ryan would not meet with North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, but wants to demilitarize foreign policy. He wants to rebuild manufacturing and beat China by dominating the solar panel and electric vehicle markets.
Amy Klobuchar is a senator from Minnesota since 2007 and a former chief prosecutor of Minnesota’s biggest county. She does not support Medicare For All, but she is against big pharmaceutical companies. She wants less expensive drugs and a public option in health insurance. On immigration, she would pass a bill that gives money for border security and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. She would also allow people to seek asylum in northern countries. On gun violence, she wants universal background checks, assault rifle bans, and to do something about magazines. On race relations, Klobushar would provide economic opportunities to African Americans since they have been the most hurt in the last decade. She would allow people to refinance student debt at a lower rate and introduce a teacher repayment plan for debt. She will beat Trump because she is confident she can win over red states. On North Korea, she would meet with anyone at any time but will make sure to have an agenda and put this country first.
Beto O’Rourke is a former congressman from Texas. He believes the middle class should not pay more when it comes to healthcare. He wants everyone to be covered and the people that have private insurance can keep it. On immigration, O’Rourke wants to end for-profit detention and thinks immigrants can be criminally processed if they do not follow American laws. In regards to gun violence, he believes we should be there for people, not special interests, as well as ban political actions since money buys access. He plans to beat Trump by not writing off red states or taking blue states for granted. Texas is a new battleground state that he is confident he can win in. For the climate crisis, he wants to bring everyone into the picture and work together. On race relations, he acknowledges that the foundation of this country was built on the legacy of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow and that the impacts are still felt today. He would sign into law the Sheila Lee Reparations Bill and create a new voting rights act. O’Rourke does not agree with free four-year college but thinks four-year college should be debt-free and two-year college can be free. He would pull the troops out of Afghanistan in his first term as well as end all wars around the Middle East. He plans to prevent new wars by resolving things diplomatically.
Michael Bennet is a senator from Colorado since 2009 and a former superintendent of Denver public schools. In regards to healthcare, he believes we should continue with the Affordable Care Act and have a public option. He does not want to decriminalize the border but agrees that no family should be separated. On race relations, he thinks that Trump’s racist rhetoric alone should be enough to get him out of the White House. He noted that there are schools that are currently segregated and low funded. He wants to fix schools and end the school to prison pipeline.
Kirsten Gillibrand is a senator from New York since 2009 and a former congresswoman. She commented that healthcare is not affordable because of the big corporations invested in it. On immigration, Gillibrand wants to treat people humanely and have civil violations, instead of criminalizing immigrants. She stated that she would have fired Officer Pantaleo as a mayor and as president, would have made the full report on the case public. She acknowledged her privilege as a white woman and said that she can reach the white suburban Trump supporters and explain privilege. She sees it as her responsibility as well to uplift and explain the voices of those unheard and undermined. On climate change, her priority is to clean the white house with her popular line “Clorox the Oval Office”. She will then reengage global climate change and invest in green energy. She is confident she can beat Trump because of the bus tours she took through Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania– where she listened to people and told the promises Trump made and broke.
Andrew Yang is an entrepreneur with a polarizing plan to give every adult an income of $12,000 per year. On healthcare, he is supportive of the Medicare For All plan. On immigration, he explained that immigrants are continuously scapegoated for things they are not involved in and continued to say that jobs are being taken by artificial intelligence, not immigrants. On criminal justice reform, Yang commented that the United States is spending too much on keeping people behind bars. Money needs to be put into people’s hands before and after prison. Yang ran a non-profit organization for seven years and saw the racial disparities in America and noticed that people of color and lower socioeconomic status suffer most in disasters like a failing economy. So, he predicts that their jobs will be the first to go. In light of this recognition and the wage gap between men and women, Yang sees a guaranteed minimum income of $1,000 per month a necessity for economic freedom. He credits this idea to the book Chaos Or Community by Martin Luther King Jr. On foreign policy, he would deescalate tensions in Iran in light of the recent breached nuclear agreement, bring the troops home, and invest in the domestic so the global relations will be better.
Cory Booker is a senator from New Jersey since 2013 and a former Mayor of Newark, NJ. On healthcare, Booker will make sure that everyone is covered and noted that the Americans spend more money on healthcare than other countries. On immigration, he would eliminate detention centers, because if border crossing was decriminalized and done through civil courts, there would be no need for them. To reform the criminal justice system, he would legalize marijuana on a federal level, then reinvest into the communities that have been hurt by oppressive marijuana laws. Booker believes that everything should coincide with climate change, and even though most of the damage happens outside of the U.S., the U.S. needs to be the leader of the solution. He is against voter suppression and deems black women to have the best voting turnout. On foreign policy, he will bring the troops home as quickly and safely as possible, but will not give an artificial timeline in which that will be done.
Tulsi Gabbard is a Congresswoman from Hawaii since 2013 and a former Major in the Army National Guard that served two tours in the Middle East. She believes that the United States has a “sick care system” and that big corporation are at the table when they need to be shut out so they do not profit off of healthcare. Gabbard would secure the border and implement humane immigration policies. She would fix the legal immigration system and provide the millions of undocumented immigrants with legal pathways to citizenship. She agrees that student debt should be solved but does not agree with free college for undocumented immigrants. Gabbard acknowledges that America’s criminal justice system disproportionately targets black and brown people. She supports the Off Fossil Fuel Act, which is a transition plan to new green energy in efforts to combat climate change. On foreign policy, she wants to bring the troops home from Afghanistan because it has been too long.
Kamala Harris is a senator from California since 2017, a former California Attorney General, and a former San Fransisco District Attorney. She has her own Medicare For All plan, different from the one Sanders and Warren advocate for. Her plan allows a public and private insurance plan and will bring healthcare to everyone immediately. Employers will have no say in their employees choice of coverage and it calls for a 10-year transition. She would also decriminalize border crossing. On criminal justice reform, a bit of controversy arose when Tulsi Gabbard brought up Harris’s previous actions as a prosecutor. She said Harris put over 15,000 people in prison for marijuana violations, kept people in prison longer than sentenced for cheap prison labor, and fought to keep cash bail in place. Harris did not address these points then stated that she is proud of her work as an attorney, and mentioned her accomplishments. She reformed and reentered former offenders, would decriminalize and legalise marijuana, and always stood against death row placement. In regards to climate change, she would re-enter the Paris Agreement on her first day in office, and become carbon neutral by 2030. Harris would close the gendered wage gap by making corporations publicize if they are paying equally and if not, they will be fined 1% of their profit from the previous year.
Jay Inslee is the Governor of Washington since 2013, and a former congressman with an emphasis on climate change. On healthcare, he has a public option signed in Washington in which people save 5% on insurance. He believes in adequate Medicare in the United States, wants to integrate mental and physical health, and acknowledged that pharmaceutical prices are high. On immigration, he wants to make America a place of refuge and increase the number of people accepted in as immigrants. On criminal justice reform, he offered thousands of people pardons for drug crimes and wants to make sure people released can get jobs. He would also train police officers in de-escalation techniques. The number one priority in his campaign is climate change. He believes it is not a singular issue, but one of health, national security, and the economy. He has a plan called “America’s Climate Mission” and advocates for clean air and water for everyone.
Julián Castro is a former HUD (Housing and Urban Development) secretary under Obama and a former mayor of San Antonio, Texas. In terms of healthcare, he does not want big pharmaceutical companies involved. He would strengthen medicare and allow people to hold onto their private insurance. Castro thinks it should not be a crime to illegally cross the border but a civil action. He will repeal Section 1325 and introduce a marshal plan for Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, so people feel safe in their home countries. On criminal justice reform, he plans to put together a police reform plan and end qualified immunity for police officers. Castro would improve race relations by investing in educational opportunities and universal Pre-K. He would also improve K-12 schools and make public state universities, community college, and job certification programs tuition-free. Castro has demonstrated climate change efforts as a HUD secretary in Flint, Michigan by helping provide water filters and removing lead during their water crisis.
Joe Biden was the U.S. Vice President from 2009-2017 and a former senator from Delaware for 36 years. In terms of healthcare, he would expand on Obamacare with a public option to buy another plan if people were not satisfied with Medicaid or what their employer provides. His plan would be $750 billion in total, it would cover all people, and lower drug prices. On immigration, Biden believes if you cross illegally, you should be sent back and it would be illegal unless they are seeking asylum. He believes America is great because we can “pick the best of every culture” and anyone that comes to the border with a Ph.D. would be given a seven-year green card. On criminal justice reform, the Vice President has reduced the federal prison population by 38,000 people and has insisted on changing the rules of police engagement. He believes rehabilitation, better prison programs, and more access to things like education and housing when released is necessary. In climate change efforts, he would join the Paris Climate Accord, invest 400 billion dollars in research and work out the use of coal and fossil fuels. He would also double offshore winds, have all-electric vehicles by 2030.
Political speech can often dance around the hard-hitting issues, come across disingenuous and contrived, leaving people distrusting of politics in general. Yet, everything around us is politicized and with the numerous amount of crises affecting the United States, and the world at large now is not the time to tune it all out. From our bodies, our jobs, education, to the future of humanity, to see the changes you want to occur – you have to be informed – as taxing as it may be. Use this breakdown as a starter kit. Find the candidate(s) that most align with the things you find important and commit to doing your own research. You will feel so much better once November comes around.