Our in-house authority on American politics, Account Manager Isabelle Walker runs us through the wide field of Democrat candidates ahead of the 2020 US presidential election.
Pete Buttigieg (Pronounced Boot-edge-edge)
Mayor, South Bend Indiana
A self-described Maltese American, left handed, Episcopalian, gay, war veteran, mayor, millennial.
Mayor Pete, as he’s known (due to complications arising from the pronunciation of his last name), has recently burst onto the scene as a little-known councillor from a small city in Indiana called South Bend (home to Notre Dame University). He is campaigning on traditional Democratic values, prioritising “freedom to” over “freedom from”. He backs his eligibility, despite his age (37), saying he has more government experience than current VP Mike Pence and “more military experience than anybody to walk into [the Oval Office] since George H W Bush.”
He’s also Harvard educated, a concert pianist, and speaks eight languages (one being Norwegian, which he learned so he could read more books by his favourite author).
His signature policy is the abolition of the Electoral College (EC). The EC is the system that is used to elect the President and Vice President. It is consistently criticised for being undemocratic and resulting in candidates winning the popular vote but failing to win the Presidency (cough, Hillary, cough, Trump).
Former Maryland Congressman
Relentlessly bipartisan, Delaney believes America needs to unify. He’s an entrepreneur worth $100 million, so campaign finance won’t be an issue. He believes in a “more just form of capitalism”. His signature policy is a national youth service program. According to his campaign website, he would implement a program that would give all high school graduates three options to participate in national service: military service; community service; or infrastructure apprenticeships.
Former California Attorney General & Current Senator for California
She is respected by both the conservative wing and the grassroots wing of the Democratic Party. She is a woman of colour (born to Jamaican and Tamil Indian parents) and educated at Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, D.C. She has received several endorsements from well-known progressives. Interestingly, while she has built a successful career as a prosecutor, she is opposed to the death penalty.
Her signature policy is to provide up to $500 per month in tax cuts to working families by ending Trump’s tax cuts to big business.
Former US Congressman from Texas
You’d be forgiven for being confused about his name – Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke is of Irish decent but an El Paso native.
He surprised many, including those in-the-know, when he nearly toppled Republican stalwart Ted Cruz in the November 2018 US Senate Race for Texas. He had a large showing on social media and impressed many with his town hall performances. O’Rourke is a former congressman and has a huge grassroot backing that saw him raise $60m in 2018 – his campaign says it raised more than $6m in the first 24 hours.
His signature policy is one of immigration reform which is he says is based on “respect and dignity”.
Former Mayor of Newark, New Jersey; Current Junior Senator for New Jersey
Cory Booker has one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate. He believes in federal marijuana legalisation and criminal justice reform, while working with Kamala Harris to make lynching a hate crime.
His signature policy is to establish American Opportunity Accounts. These accounts would be opened for a child at birth and would receive interest and additional funds each year depending on family income (poorer children to receive more). At 18, children would access the accounts to pay for a home or for educational expenses.
Current US House Representative from Hawaii; former Hawaii State Legislature Representative
Gabbard is the first Hindu to serve in the US House of Representatives. She’s also 37. She is a former representative in the Hawaii State Legislature, a position she was elected to at 21 – the youngest woman ever to be elected to a US state legislature, and youngest person in Hawaii’s history. She left the Legislature after finding out she could not serve from Iraq, where she was stationed during her time in the Hawaii Army National Guard.
Gabbard has come under fire for refusing to label Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad as an adversary and has been condemned for her previously anti-LGBTQI views. Her eligibility may also come into question given she was born in American Samoa, not in the US proper.
Former Vice President; Former Senator from Delaware (’73-09); Barack Obama BFF
Former Vice President Joe Biden hasn’t put his hand up, and at 76 years old it’s seeming more and more unlikely that it will happen. Biden has always been a fiercely bipartisan Statesman, and someone who seems an antidote to the divisive nature of the US right now. He is, by his own admission, the most qualified person in the country to be President. His affability makes him a popular figure in the world of US politics, and his best mate Barack would certainly be good counsel.
However, Biden has been the subject of accusations from a few women who have felt he is too tactile, to the point of making them extremely uncomfortable. VP Biden has since apologised for this, saying he will actively work to keep a respectable distance from women in the future. Many have pointed out that this will likely sink any chance of a Presidential tilt, but only time will tell.
Senior Senator from Massachusetts
Elizabeth Warren is a former lawyer and academic, having taught at UPenn and Harvard Law. She has held advisory roles for the government, most importantly helping to launch the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the fallout from the 2008 Financial Crisis. She campaigned fiercely at the time for more stringent banking regulations.
Warren’s signature policy is a wealth tax that would be imposed annually on ultra-millionaires to pay for universal free or low-cost childcare. Under her plan, fortunes greater than $50m would be taxed at two percent. Billionaires would pay three percent. The proposal has greater than 60 percent support and would raise $2.75 trillion over 10 years.
Warren has recently come under fire for exaggerating her family’s history to Cherokee Indians, earning her the nickname “Pocahontas”.
Senator from Vermont
Feel the bern.
Bernie Sanders has been accused of killing Hillary’s chances of 2016 glory after demolishing her credibility in the primaries and catalysing a huge base of natural young democrats to abstain from voting.
His signature policies are for universal healthcare and free university education. He also believes in placing a 77 per cent tax on estates in excess of $1 billion, raising $315 billion for government coffers over a decade.
Despite his huge following, Bernie is considered by many Democrats a nuisance and too socialist. However, he continues to enjoy a stranglehold on the Millennial vote.
All images have been sourced from artist DonkeyHotey through Creative Commons.
The Shell Issue 13
1. Co-CEO address, Benjamin Haslem
2. How Shooters, Fishers and Farmers tapped a well of resentment to reshape the political landscape, Alexandra Mayhew Hills
3. The rise of activist lobby groups in Australian politics, Larissa Jaffé
4. Social media and the art of political persuasion: No one changes anything, and everyone’s pi__ed, Benjamin Haslem
5. 2020 US Democrats: The New Guard, Isabelle Walker
6. Social media influencers and Federal politicians don blue hearts to fight youth suicide, Stav Pisk
7. New trends in banking? Answering brick bats with bouquets, Kathy Lindsay
8. Strong Australia-China relations important for maintaining trade flow torrent, David Croasdale & Maggie Chan
9. IPREX Highlights