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News > U.S.

Liberals vs Progressives? Top 8 Democrats Running in 2020 US Elections

  • teleSUR lists the top eight Democratic candidates at this stage in the race.

    teleSUR lists the top eight Democratic candidates at this stage in the race. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 April 2019

teleSUR takes a look at the top Democratic candidates for U.S. presidential race.

The pool of Democratic candidates for the 2020 United States presidential elections is among the largest in the country's history.

Already 20 candidates have announced their intentions to run for head of state.

teleSUR lists the top eight Democratic candidates at this stage in the race.

Bernie Sanders:

“Let us wage a moral and political war against war itself, so that we can cut military spending and use that money for human needs.”

Senator Bernie Sanders, 77,  is considered as the most progressive candidate who announced his presidential run in February 2019.

The Independent Senator from Vermont served as a lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives for 16 years before being elected to the Senate in 2006, making him the longest-serving Independent in the history of the U.S. Congress.

In 2016, he lost to Hillary Clinton as the Democrat Party presidential candidate.

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Contesting U.S. President Donald Trump's December decision to shut down the government to get his proposed 'border wall' funded by Congress, the Vermont legislator who has gained worldwide support said: "Unlike Donald Trump, who shut down the government and left 800,000 federal employees without income to pay the bills, I know what it’s like to be in a family that lives paycheck to paycheck."

He has the most progressive policies outlined. Author of several books on politics, the congressman’s policies include backing universal health coverage, programs that guarantee employment, canceling student debt, an hourly minimum wage of US$15, pension amount increases, construction of social housing, free public universities, among other plans.

He has also advocated for prisoners right to vote.

"I believe people commit crimes and they paid the price and they have the right to vote. I believe even if they're in jail they're paying their price to society but that should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our democracy," Sander stated.

Elizabeth Warren:

“Today the game is rigged — rigged to work for those who have money and power. Big corporations hire armies of lobbyists to get billion-dollar loopholes into the tax system and persuade their friends in Congress to support laws that keep the playing field tilted in their favor. Meanwhile, hardworking families are told that they’ll just have to live with smaller dreams for their children.”

The U.S. Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren, 69, is another progressive candidate who was a Harvard professor.

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A fierce critic of Wall Street and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, Warren pushing for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a tax on the nation's top wealthiest, and continues to go after big banks and corporations who caused the 2008 financial crisis. The legislator is also considered one of the strongest defenders of women rights.

The senator recently proposed to cancel billions of dollars in student loan, making it possible for graduates to move forward and not be locked down by hundreds of thousands of debt from an over-priced, privatized higher education system.

“We got into this crisis because state governments and the federal government decided that instead of treating higher education like our public school system ― free and accessible to all Americans ― they’d rather cut taxes for billionaires and giant corporations and offload the cost of higher education onto students and their families,” said the senator.

Warren was criticized in recent past for saying that she had Native American ancestry and took a DNA test to prove the claim. She recently apologized to the Cherokee Nation over the controversy.

While the Massachusettes lawmaker is being cheered on by some progressives in the United States, as a result of such proposals for domestic issues, others on the left in the U.S. criticize her for not coming out against state repression of Dakota Access Pipeline protesters in 2016, or its creation, and finally backing Clinton as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.

Joe Biden:

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man." - referring to Barack Obama.

The vice president under former President Brack Obama, Joe Biden, 76, announced his candidacy Thursday. Before serving as second in command from 2009-2017, Biden was a senator from Delaware for nearly four decades.

He is considered one of the most experienced and mainstream politicians in the race. Biden has the same kind of politics as Hillary Clinton who lost to Donald Trump in 2016. He is the only one from the candidate pool to have voted for the U.S. invasion in Iraq in 2003. He is also highly pro-capitalism and pro-Wall Street in rhetoric and practice.

“I don’t think 500 billionaires are the reason we’re in trouble. The folks at the top aren’t bad guys,” Biden said just last year.

Biden, who is in the presidential race for a third time, was accused last month by women for inappropriately touching them in public. His 1987 White House bid ended after a plagiarism scandal.

He supports the government's trend of mass incarceration and introduced the federal death penalty in 1994, and he does not care if the justice system has racial disparities.

In 2016, many people of color did not support Hillary Clinton and many of them may not put their support behind a similar candidate such as Biden in 2020 if he wins the primary.

Kamala Harris:

“We are putting parents on notice. If you fail in your responsibility to your kids, we are going to work to make sure you face the full force and consequences of the law.”

Kamala Harris, 54, served as the U.S. Senator from California since 2017. Prior to that, she was an attorney general of California.

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She is known for her hard stance on crimes and has been criticized for not believing in pardoning the guilty. She has also defended the death penalty.

The California lawmaker not a big defender of civil liberties. For example, as a judge she ruled against a Sikh man who was refused a job for having a religiously-mandated beard.

Unlike Warren, Harris also went against prosecuting banks after the 2008 financial crisis. However, now, Harris supports middle-class tax credit, Medicare for all, Green New Deal and the legalization of cannabis.

Tulsi Gabbard:

“It is clear that there needs to be a closer working relationship between the United States and India. How can we have a close relationship if decision-makers in Washington know very little, if anything, about the religious beliefs, values, and practices of India's 800 million Hindus?”

Iraq war veteran Tulsi Gabbard, 38, has served as a U.S. Congress member from Hawaii since 2013. 

The congresswoman's domestic policies mirror those of Sanders and Warren, promising progressive economic and social policies including Wall Street reform, universal health care, and policies to combat climate change.

Her foreign policy is that of non-intervention in sovereign states by the U.S.  She supports a peaceful solution to the problem in Syria and has said that the U.S. should not be involved because "it does not pose a direct threat to the United States."

She has also taken a stance against intervention in Venezuela once saying, "The United States needs to stay out of Venezuela. Let the Venezuelan people determine their future." 

During Barack Obama’s administration, she supported Republican demands to use the term “radical Islam” instead of “violent extremism” to depict “terrorist” events.

Gabbard also once opposed same-sex marriages, but seems to have later changed her position.

Gabbard is the first Hindu member of Congress and is considered a supporter of India’s far-right Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a fact which she has not denied. The Hawaiian legislator insists that Washington should educate themselves about Hindu religion to build a better relationship with India, but does not mention India's other religions, instead equating India with Hinduism and the ideology of its right-wing ruling government.

Kirsten Gillibrand:

“Along with a livable wage, many parents are desperate for quality affordable child care.”

Kirsten Gillibrand, 52, has served as a U.S. Senator from New York since 2009. She also served in the House of Representative from 2007-2009.

She worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2000 campaign for Senate. She is also a vocal advocate of child care, accessible early childhood education, women rights, and finally penalizing miltary members guilty of rape within the ranks.

She criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in January for ridiculing a prospect that would make voting easier of the citizens. He said it was a “power grab” from Democrats.

"Voting isn't a 'power grab, it's a democracy, and it's literally the entire point of our representative government,” Gillibrand tweeted. “And by the way: Not only should Election Day be a federal holiday, but we also need automatic voter registration and universal mail voting, too."

Beto O’Rourke:

“That's the primary mission of ours: to protect the border, enhance the border, and capitalize on what the border has to offer. It's the source of jobs, source of positive immigration stories.”

O'Rourke, 46, came to the limelight after he narrowly lost to Republican senator Ted Cruz in 2019 mid-terms in Texas.

He is a white, wealthy businessman whose policies and politics do not stand out among the diverse pool of candidates the Democrat has for 2020. His tax returns recently revealed he has made US$1 million in investments of oil, such as ExxonMobil and pharmaceuticals. 

He is moderate on many key issues like border, immigration, Islamophobia, etc.

Pete Buttigieg:

"I do believe that when you are, when you have served your sentence, then part of being restored to society is that you are part of the political life of this nation again and one of the things that needs to be restored is your right to vote." - on prisoners’ right to vote.

Pete Buttigieg, 37, who served as a mayor of South Bend, Indiana since 2012, is the first openly gay man to run for president.

He has no policies on his website and no presence in many states.

Despite this, Buttigieg is becoming one of the biggest names in the 2020 elections, often speaking about issues faced by the LGBTQ community. He did oppose Senator Sander's policy to allow prisoners the right to vote.

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