An “All-In” Democratic Primary
Around 15 politicians have announced their presidential candidacy for 2020. Among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, this is shaping up to be the most desperate race in history.
When Donald Trump announced his campaign for re-election - just days after sitting in the Oval Office - no one foresaw what his administration would become.
In just over two years, the president has reversed previous environmental policies and regulations, undertaken an ineffective campaign against the Affordable Care Act, approved a condemned tax reform, closed the diplomatic gap with Saudi Arabia and Israel, and continually hounded the immigrant community, particularly Central American migrants. All this while under scrutinous investigation for suspicion of collusion with Russia to win the elections. Trump’s credibility has descended as has the country's confidence in democracy.
Meanwhile, a wave of politicians, young and old, from the Democratic side have announced their candidacies for the presidency in the 2020 elections — but as the names pile up, it is increasingly difficult to picture who could be the one to unseat the current president.
It’s true that we cannot judge those who take advantage of circumstances to launch political campaigns, especially when President Trump makes it so easy for them.
However, the proliferation of Democratic candidates as we move towards the presidential primary elections is striking.
It seems as if we have skipped a year and 2020 is already here.
The electoral phenomenon that was occurred during the mid-term elections demonstrated a substantial change in voting. Massive participation and change of political consciousness in the Hispanic community, among others, resulted in a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and a weakened Republican Party.
On the heels of this “Blue Wave,” and spurred on by an awareness of the community and political mobilization in states such as California and New York, Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama era, declared in February 2018 to have "every intention" to run for president. One year later, that intention has become a reality.
After establishing his Political Action Committee, Opportunity First, Castro announced his candidacy declaring that "it’s time for new leadership."
The announcement of the young politician coincided with catastrophic approval figures for President Trump, who at the beginning of 2019 had only 39 percent of American approval.
The announcement by the young politician coincided with President Trump’s 39 percent approval rating in early 2019. This number compares to the 52 percent that President Obama had at the same time as his term, and 80 percent for President George W. Bush.
It’s the first time since 1992 that the Democratic Party has had such an opportunity in a race for the presidency. This divisionism and the change in the political perspectives of the country has given way to a range of profiles.
Between this tide and the leaderless circumstance in which the party has found itself since 2016, this seems to be a race with more candidates than space to run.
While the administration dealt with the government shutdown sponsored by the president, the suggestion of the Castro campaign triggered a series of announcements of the same kind.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat for Massachusetts, was among the first to move from "exploratory committee" to "campaign" in the blink of an eye, taking advantage of the "progressive" and "feminist" momentum of the previous months.
Likewise, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced their candidacies, taking advantage of the new space sponsored by nighttime comedy shows such as the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and, in the case of Klobuchar, aided by the cinematic backdrop of by an imposing snowfall.
For his part, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker also joined the race as one of the most liberal candidates.
Pete Buttigieg (mayor of South Bend, Indiana), John Delaney (congressman of Maryland), Tulsi Gabbard (congressman of Hawaii), John Hickenlooper (governor of Colorado), Jay Inslee (governor of Washington), Marianne Williamson (professor and activist of California) and Andrew Yang (entrepreneur from New York), were the first group to also cast their names on the ballot.
Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders then announced his presidential candidacy once again, hoping to reap what he sowed four years ago.
Seeking to highlight a difference in his platform from those of his colleagues, Sanders announced in a video that his campaign goes beyond "defeating" the current president or achieving the nomination in the primaries, and that he focuses on "transforming the country," creating a government based "on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.”
Sanders is no stranger to the radical political transformation that the country has experienced since his last presidential campaign, where his progressive approach - which included a Medicare For All proposal, an increase in the minimum wage, and tuition-free higher education - was viewed as too radical by some, and was not readily received by all Democratic voters.
Today, after the victory of politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in midterm elections, Sanders' "radical" approaches are among the top priorities of a renewed electorate, represented primarily by millennials and first-time voters.
Taking advantage of this momentum, the senator has wasted no time in calling things the way he sees them.
Sanders has called Donald Trump "the most dangerous president in American modern history," "a pathological liar," "a fraud," "racist," "sexist," and a "xenophobe" who "is undermining American democracy as he leads us in an authoritarian direction."
The Vermont senator also made clear his intentions to renew the style of government based on social justice, equal opportunities and a direct war declaration against, "the 1 percent," that hold media and economic power in the country.
This is what he calls, "a long-due political revolution.”
In the United States today, and as political analyst David W. Wise explains, the political system is characterized by, "a perpetual campaign of jockeying for position and fundraising for re-election almost as soon as the results of the prior election have been posted.”
Contrary to what the Founding Fathers envisioned, the important thing seems to be control of power and not tangible results for the quality of life of citizens.
This panorama - unique worldwide - applies not only to the Trump campaign but also to the Democrats’ despair.
For the first time since 1988, establishing a favorite to compete against a Republican is extremely difficult.
The new priorities of the electorate - Medicare for All, tuition-free education, the Green New Deal - increasingly rule out the internal possibility of a male and white candidate, such as former Vice President Joe Biden, who, although leading the latest popular polls, could stop the party's efforts to "renew itself" - a strategy that paid off in the midterm elections.
But unlike in previous years, money is a thorny issue. The amount of dollars collected no longer weighs as much as where they come from. The success of the Ocasio-Cortez campaign, for example, put on the table the interventionism of the private sector in the country’s politics and demonized Political Action Committees.
If the midterm elections were any indicator, the three forces that will move the Democratic primaries will be women, minorities, and progressivism.
The extremes of progressive ideals, however, could also create a backlash.
The resurgence of the word "socialism" in U.S. politics has forced candidates like Bernie Sanders, once proudly radical, to join the Democratic Party and soften his positions that are often confused in the collective conscious with communism.
But very conservative positions, such as those that Klobuchar seems to hoist, also discard another extreme of the population, who have seen in Donald Trump the magnification of a deaf and incisive right.
Finding the balance in all this, and finally convincing the undecided to vote against the Republican Party, is nothing less than a titanic task for the Democrats.
And if that were not enough, a multi-faceted troop of candidates may make the issue even more difficult.
Although the goal seems to be one and the same, the strategy of each candidate in the Democratic primary is unique.
The range goes from the most progressive (Warren, Sanders, Gabbard, and Brown, for example), to the most prone to be moderate (Klobuchar and Ryan).
A Massachusetts Democrat and former law professor at Harvard University, Warren, 69, came to the Senate after serving as an adviser to President Obama. Her campaign is one of the most radical and progressive, focusing on the regulation of Wall Street and large corporations.
A New York Democrat, she has been recognized for her deep commitment to the feminist movement, for her work towards gun control reform, and promoting the rights of the LGBTQ community and communities of color. Gillibrand, 52, is known in the Capitol for not mincing her words.
Perhaps the best-known candidate throughout the race, the independent senator from Vermont has been the first to campaign for Medicare for All, tuition-free education and against the monopolization of economic power in the United States. Having lost the 2016 primaries to Hillary Clinton, Sanders has now once again registered as a Democrat in the 2020 election.
The only Hispanic candidate of the race, Castro has been building a national political career since the Obama era and has focused his campaign on immigrant rights. He also shares support for many of Sanders' promises.
An outlier candidate, Yang has focused his campaign on the single idea of universal basic income to help the population between 18 and 64 years. He is a technological entrepreneur who worked in the Obama Administration.
Another candidate outside of the political spectrum is the spiritual advisor Marianne Williamson, an author and charity organizer and who has the popular support of Oprah Winfrey.
Considered one of the candidates with greater opportunity, Senator Harris has led an illustrious political career and represents the ethnic diversity of the country. Her campaign promises are liberal enough to be Democratic, but her experience in the criminal justice system reform has had serious repercussions on her approval from the far left.
Known for his ability to raise funding, Senator Booker has a history of working with Wall Street, while at the same time drawing on a community background that works in his favor. Although considered a great speaker, his relationship to money is his first weakness in the race.
A young millennial and the first openly homosexual candidate, Buttigieg, 37, is an Indiana veteran focused on the transformation of the conservative community.
Officially, Delaney was the first to run for the presidential campaign, announcing his bid in July 2017. However, the technology entrepreneur is considered a political outsider and one of the candidates most open to bipartisan cooperation.
Born in Samoa and of Polynesian descent, Gabbard supported Sanders' candidacy in 2016 from the start. However, she was critical of what she deemed, “homosexual extremism” and opposed the rights to abortion and equal marriage.
The governor of Washington has been one of the main members of "the resistance" against Trump His campaign has focused on the environment and the fight against climate change.
Considered one of the most beloved governors in the country, the Colorado Democrat came to fame for his positions to strengthen gun laws, but his sympathy for business could prove counterproductive in this race, even when his other positions are quite progressive.
The Minnesota senator is deeply beloved in her state and won national acceptance for her incisive participation against the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. However, the accusations against her for mistreating her staff have painted her as a more complicated candidate than considered initially. Klobuchar was among the first to speak out against the Medicare for All option.