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A LOOK AT THE TOP DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

By: Dave Gordon



Twenty-four politicians are vying for the Democratic presidential nomination for 2020. Candidates are busy making campaign stops around the nation, participating in televised debates, and are already preparing for primaries, which will take place in the late Fall. Community Magazine presents a summary of the top five candidates’ platforms as of press time, outlining their general stance on immigration, the economy, foreign policy, and Israel.

JOE BIDEN

Former Vice President Joe Biden served under President Barack Obama. Previously, he represented Delaware in the Senate from 1973 until 2009. While in the Senate, Biden served on the Senate Judiciary Committee (Chair from 1987-1995), as chair for the International Narcotics Control Caucus (2007-2009), and on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Chair from 2001-2003 and 2007-2009).

Immigration:

Biden has proposed making Dreamers or DACA recipients citizens. He has also been vocal about his support for helping Central American countries so that their citizens can and will stay in their home countries rather than fleeing to the United States. He opposes the wall as a slogan “divorced from reality” criticizing both its cost and ineffectiveness.

The Economy:

Biden supports free trade deals, though he argues that the United States has to negotiate good deals so as not to be taken advantage of. He has focused mostly on the middle class, arguing that they are a barometer of how everyone else is doing. He supports a $15/hr. minimum wage.

He is critical of the wealth inequality in America, highlighting how the rich have gotten richer while wages have not grown significantly for the middle class and below.

Foreign Policy:

Biden is a champion of global alliances and free trade. His record on foreign policy is somewhat inconsistent, supporting interventionism at times and rejecting it elsewhere.

Israel:

Biden has always said that he is “pro-Israel.” In 2009 he spoke at the AIPAC convention, saying that Israel must “dismantle existing outposts and allow Palestinians freedom of movement.” In April 2016 he spoke at the left-leaning J Street gala, rebuking Israel on settlement expansion, and that same month when a bomb injured 21 people on a bus in Jerusalem, he said that it was Israeli policies that had done the real damage to the peace process. Biden stood by the
Obama-era Iran deal, and voted against the Bush administration’s move to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard as a terror group.

BERNIE SANDERS

Bernie Sanders has served as a senator from Vermont since 2007. While in the Senate, he served as the Chair of the Senate Veterans’Affairs Committee from 2013-2015 and is a current ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.

Originally from Brooklyn, Sanders became interested in politics early on where he joined the Young People’s Socialist League at University of Chicago (affiliated with the Socialist Party of America). For a time, he represented the Liberty Union Party in various elections for both governor and U.S. Senate. Eventually, in 1980 he ran for Mayor of Burlington, Vermont and won.

During his time as mayor, Sanders referred to himself as a socialist and often criticized U.S. foreign policy, especially in regard to the Cold War and Latin American policy.

Immigration:

Unlike the most progressive candidates for the nomination, Sanders has a protectionist view: “If you open the borders, my Gd, there’s a lot of poverty in this world, and you’re going to have people from all over the world. I don’t think that’s something we can do at this point.” He has previously stated that mass immigration from poorer countries is what thecorporations desire in order to be provided with cheap labor. This, he said harms the American worker. He has called for immigration reform and his campaign site suggests he would expand DACA and would include a path to citizenship for all Dreamers. He would restrict the scope of ICE, end family separation, and establish independent oversight within agencies including DHS.

The Economy:

Although he calls himself a socialist, Sanders has often promoted economic ideas that are more like those of liberal capitalist countries of Western Europe. His tax proposal endeavors to close loopholes for the top earners in the country, and he would increase taxes across the board to pay for a battery of new government run services, such as universal healthcare, free public education, and housing reform. Sanders also wants to use the government to break up corporations, and what he considers monopolies, believing the economy is working for the wealthy, but should work “for the people.”

Foreign Policy:

Bernie Sanders has opposed war and military intervention more often than not. He has, though, supported troops on the ground in Afghanistan to keep the Taliban at bay.

Israel:

Despite stating emphatically that he is “pro-Israel,” he has said, “Israel is run by a rightwing racist government,” in a CNN Town Hall this year. He also said that, if elected, financial aid to Israel would come with conditions. He also had his photo taken with pro-Palestinian activists, holding an “anti-occupation” sign.

ELIZABETH WARREN

Senator Elizabeth Warren has served Massachusetts since 2013. Before that, she taught law at several universities around the country, including Harvard.

She served as Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel (2008-2010) of the Troubled Asset Relief Programs which lead to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – for which she was the first Special Advisor in 2010.

Immigration:

Following the first Democratic primary debate, Warren endorsed what is considered the most radical immigration plan, which would decriminalize illegal border crossing – making it a civil issue rather than a criminal one.

The Economy:

Warren maintains that the economy, though doing well, is only doing well for the top earners and not for the rest of the country. She would like to change that with more government oversight and higher taxes on the rich and on corporations. She’s called for measures to break up businesses that are “too big” and hold too much a percentage of a particular market.

Foreign Policy:

Warren supports diplomacy as the first and primary option
in conflict.

Israel:

The Republican Jewish Coalition condemned comments of Senator Warren, who told anti-Israel activists IfNotNow that she would push to end the Israeli government’s “occupation” over the Palestinians. She was one of the 60 Democrats to boycott Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech in Congress, she supported the Iran Deal, she spoke out against the US Embassy move, and she opposes efforts to criminalize the BDS movement.

KAMALA HARRIS

A junior senator from California, Harris in 2010 won the election for California’s Attorney General and then won reelection in 2014 by a wide margin.

As a prosecutor, she had the highest conviction rate in over a decade. She tightened so-called “loopholes” in bail and drug court that defendants were taking advantage of. 

In her short time in the Senate, she has supported single-payer healthcare, descheduling of cannabis, DACA recipients and Dreamers, and criminal justice reform.

Immigration:

Harris released an immigration plan that included Executive Orders to alleviate the threat of deportation for undocumented immigrants who pose no criminal risk. Shesupports reinstating DACA protections and offering Dreamers a path to citizenship. “I’ll take action to lift barriers Dreamers face to pursuing legal status and put them on a meaningful path to citizenship. These young people are just as American as I am...”

The Economy:

She plans to replace part of Trump’s tax plan with her bill called the LIFT Act, which aims to raise incomes in working class families through refundable tax credits. These would be available for families making under $100,000 and single people making under $50,000. She supports a $15/hr. minimum wage. She wants to ramp up regulations on Wall Street and on larger corporations.

Foreign Policy:

Harris supported a Diplomacy First policy as well as a distinction between Islam and Islamic terrorists.

Israel:

In the Senate and on the campaign trail, Harris opposes the BDS movement targeting Israel. She opposes foreign aid cuts to the state, and condemns heavy-handed UN votes against Israel.

PETE BUTTIGIEG

Buttigieg has been the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana since 2012.

In the Navy Reserve his focus was intelligence and identifying and disrupting terrorist finance networks. He was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months in 2014.

Immigration:

He told CNN that the solution to the immigration problem is not necessarily those who come in, but the White House’s reduction in aid and funding to countries in need. He also supports Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and a path to citizenship.

The Economy:

He plans to address perceived inequities with a more progressive tax, more housing initiatives, and criminal justice reform. Most of his statements surrounding the economy fall under the wealthy paying their fair share and closing loopholes in the tax code for the richest Americans.

Foreign Policy:

Buttigieg has supported a “diplomacy first” strategy regarding foreign affairs but also wants sanctions to put pressure on certain regimes, such as North Korea. He says that military action should be grounded in American interests and values, and that any military action should be with the support of allies.

Israel

In a recent interview, he said that “Israel’s human rights record is problematic and moving in the wrong direction.”

CONCLUSION

Today, the former vice president tops all of the early polls of Democratic voters. This is his third bid for the presidency and he is hoping that three is a charm. His detractors state that his head start as the front runner is due to his having been in the public eye for nearly 45years. Name recognition is golden when it comes to politics, but it’s not everything. Will the 76-year-old former Delaware senator top the Democratic ticket next year? That remains to be seen.