Briefly Looking at the 2020 Presidential Candidates

*Note that I am not endorsing the Democratic Party through the mere act of discussion about them. Any personal views about candidates will be explicitly noted if needed, and remain the primary focus. 

I want to be honest, there was a significant personal decision to be made of whether or not to even write this post in the first place. And it all lies with one specific bias that I personally hold within the political realm: a distaste for the notion of political parties as they currently exist in the first place. Due to their existence, I believe that their presence essentially destroys many opportunities for unique candidates to compete against the status quo, while favoring in-house candidates that align most strictly with their own doctrines.

Another issue arises when I consider the potential consequences by association. If I were to speak favorably or unfavorably about the particular actions of a candidate, some will choose to make assumptions about my own political affiliations. I have also been in scenarios where someone sorely prejudged my beliefs and values that it actively hurt thoughtful discussion. Therefore, I

But there also exists another issue: it would be unfathomable to discuss specifics on every candidate because too many people are running! With so many personalities and policies to comb through, one could easily write a novel on the matter. As the request was to discuss my personal thoughts on the lineup of Democratic presidential candidates, I regret that I cannot discuss all of them.

So for the purpose of maintaining a reasonable length, I chose to limit myself to three candidates and come to a compromise. Instead of focusing on the policies that the candidates are lining up, I want to instead focus on the character of the individuals. By taking this approach, the candidates can be judged on a scale that is often attacked within political spheres. One candidate will be the one that I believe represents a positive example of a hopeful presidential nominee (highlighted in blue), the other lies within the opposite camp (highlighted in maroon) , and one remains in an area of uncertainty.

I also want to stress that my sentiments are personal opinions. I implore those reading to do their own research and come to their own conclusions about candidates that appeal to them.

 

Andrew Yang

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As an entrepreneur that focused on encouraging entrepreneurship, one might immediately be hasty at the lack of political experience relative to his competitors. While recognized by the Obama administration as a “Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship” by the Obama administration, his area of expertise undoubtedly lies within business administration, economics, and law (Source).

Yet throughout the campaign thus far, Yang has acknowledged his background and experience, instead focusing on a defined set of priorities that he hopes to accomplish at the highest office. Stated in his own words: “I’m not a career politician—I’m an entrepreneur who understands the economy” (Source). And it was this candid statement that left the greatest impression and remains a consistent part of his character.

Honesty and transparency are evident values that dominate Andrew Yang’s campaign, attributes that I hold in the highest regard when scouting for a presidential candidate. This involves disclosing relevant policies and maintaining a great profile without compromises. This is often lacking in recent political candidates, where hopefuls were often plagued by significant baggage that brought their character into question.

Fortunately, Yang drives against the notion with ease, largely because he is not afraid to be vulnerable in his public appearances. While the trait of vulnerability often refers to someone in a negative connotation, I use it in a manner that extenuates his strides to be honest. He has hosted a Reddit AMA and made multiple appearances on various podcasts, including The Breakfast Club and The Joe Rogan Experience, engaging in longform discussion about his policies, that naturally subject themselves to the highest level of scrutiny. Hyperfocused on his individuality, Yang must conduct himself in the most informed, professional manner possible if he hopes to gain the respect amongst the American people. And thus far, I would daresay he is a resounding success.

Before I proceed, it would be a disservice to not mention his staple gameplan: universal basic income (UBI). While I admittedly lack the knowledge to understand the consequences of implementing a free dividend of $1,000 to all Americans, his justifications hold enough weight to warrant consideration. It is also helpful that his coverage of UBI on his website is extensive, addressing key concerns and communicating his rationale in a comprehensive manner.

This holds true for the rest of his policies, which are outlined on his website in a thorough manner, highlighting an abundance of important yet specific issues present in America. (Source)

While currently polling in lower numbers, he garnered enough individual contributions to participate in the first round of debates for the Democratic Party candidates, and I am curious to see him engage with his companions and promote his platform on a larger scale.

Nevertheless, I am confident that I would nominate Andrew Yang as the presidential hopeful in the 2020 elections if given the choice. Even if I am not synonymous of all of his policies, his admirable character is enough to garner my respect.

 

Honorable Mentions

Marianne Williamson: While I am far from a spiritual individual, Williamson seems to have good intentions overall, and she demonstrates the most resounding commitment to bipartisanship and equality. While I am somewhat skeptical of her ability to effective enact policy given the degree of vagueness, she is a refreshing face amidst the other candidates.

Kirsten Gillibrand: As a member of the Senate, Gillibrand seems to be true to her values and is a major advocate against sexual assault and harassment. She notably criticized Bill Clinton and Al Franken for their actions, and was amongst the first to call Franken to resign. Her consistency and openness places her amongst the prime candidates to become a presidential nominee.

 

Elizabeth Warren

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Elizabeth Warren is amongst the most notable members of the United States Senate. Representing Massachusetts as a member of the Democratic Party, much of her spoken action has centered around the inequalities present within the economic sphere, advocating for means of shorten the gap between the wealthy and the poor.

In terms of her qualifications, I have no shortage of confidence that she has a firm understanding of this field, having specialized in bankruptcy law and taught as a professor at a range of prestigious universities in the United States (Source). I also have no doubt that her experience is synonymous with the potential to become a great political figure in the executive office.

Therefore, it is an absolute shame that her character is extremely lacking in several regards, creating an extreme disconnect between voters and myself.

As I might not need to mention again, Elizabeth Warren did extreme damage to her reputation for attempting to pass as Native American and appropriate the culture as an important part of her familial history, refusing to back down until she received condemnation from Native American tribes. This is troubling because it indicates a willingness to employ identitarian politics in a flaccid attempt to garner political support, but her rhetoric throughout the controversy demonstrated a severe misunderstanding of conduct within the political space.

It also does not help that she has failed to correct misleading information on her social media accounts, specifically regarding the incident concerning the Covington Catholic High School students encounter with a Native American that attempted to stand between them and the Black Hebrew Israelites. For those unaware, video evidence indicates that the latter group were the instigators of an escalating tension, shouting racial and homophobic slurs against the students, whereas evidence of verbal abuse from the students is little to none. This story was covered inaccurately by media outlets, and corrections were required of most major journalistic outlets.

Warren, however, has not removed the tweet against the threat of lawsuit, seemingly complacent with the false notion that was communicated initially (Source). As a result, I do not trust that Warren would be a candidate willing to acknowledge her faults, retreating to partisanship as a protection rather than engaging in meaningful dialogue.

I do not believe I am alone in these sentiments, and I have little confidence that Warren is the candidate needed for the Democratic Party to establish trust within the people of America, even amongst those strongly aligned to the left of the political spectrum. Her actions moving forward will be important in maintaining her relevancy, but the damage might already be done.

 

Dishonorable Mentions 

Bernie Sanders: While I believe that he is quite honest about his policies and goals as a hopeful presidential candidate, I also believe that he is fully aware that his campaign promises have widespread implications that would adversely impact the country without major fundamental changes to the governmental system that we operate on, but purposely ignores them to maintain the illusion as a revolutionary. While he preaches free education and universal healthcare, he also represents a conflicted, older political figure whose actions burden greater consequence for more people that he would anticipate.

Tulsi Gabbard: Focusing her campaign on demilitarization and foreign relations, much of her campaign has been steeped in pressing questions concerning her loyalties. The fact that she attempted to keep secrecy around her meeting with the Syrian president indicates foreign connections that might compromise her integrity with the American people (Source). Paired with the potential turmoil within her campaign, much is left to be desired in the upcoming days of the presidential race (Source).

 

Beto O’Rourke

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Beto O’Rourke is nothing short of a mythical figure. He arose in popularity when he famously challenged Republican Senator Ted Cruz for the seat last year. While he ultimately failed in that endeavor, the unprecedented degree of competition between the two within the state of Texas was impressive, with an extremely narrow margin of victory for Cruz in a notably red state.

His youthful spirit that gets him standing on countertops and furniture eventually turned attention his way, and it recently led to the announcement of a 2020 presidential run despite the dismissal of the notion prior. It’s rare and refreshing to get a candidate that exuberates these personality traits, yet uncertainty permeates all personal thoughts pertaining to Beto O’Rourke.

And it has little to do with his past criminal actions of burglary and intoxicated driving; people have a capacity to change, and Beto O’Rourke is not excluded from this fact. More so, I struggle to target what O’Rourke would bring to the table. Currently, I find that his campaign is largely driven on his character rather than his actions. His website does not outline major issues that he wants to tackle, and his priorities seem jumbled. I understand basic political stances that he holds, but there is nothing comprehensive to uphold his rhetoric. He can definitely accumulate and empower others with his public speaking, with a fantastic ability to inspire those that he talks to.

Yet I am struggling to even write much about him. Simply put, there are too many unknown variables that need to be addressed within the coming months if he plans to attract larger bases of support.

 

Honorable Mentions?

Pete Buttigieg: As a candidate of the millennial generation, he appears well-equipped to answer some of the challenges facing the younger groups in America, whether it be issues surrounding mental health or the significant debt crisis. He can bring a youthful spirit to the table, but he will need to utilize the debates to spotlight  his personality and qualifications.

John Delaney:  was the first Democratic candidate to announce his presidential candidacy. As a member of the House of Representatives for Maryland, he has origins of a successful entrepreneur with companies traded on the New York Stock Exchange. On the whole, he seems like a normal candidate with a clean track record, but his presence is sorely lacking. Maybe with more time in the spotlight, his best qualities will be put on display, but in the meantime we will have to wait.

 

Conclusion

While I mentioned nine candidates from the Democratic Party, I should note that seventeen candidates from the party are running for the nomination. Evidently this is an extremely high number of candidates, and that also carries a greater amount of research needed to verify the qualifications and character of each one. Not to mention, there are other potential candidates down the pipeline (i.e. Joe Biden) that have not declared presidential intentions.

Amidst the conditions, a piece of advice I can provide as an observer of the political sphere merely lies in the notion that so many options are available to people. Despite my skepticism of political parties and criticisms of the electoral system, there are people out there striving to promote change and progress. While our suppositions are not perfectly aligned, a great identifier of a presidential candidate is their character, and I hope that discussion of the next repertoire of candidates champions the exceptional.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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