2020 Democratic Candidates

Annabelle Krause, Section Editor

The media loves to discuss Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Donald Trump.  However, there are more people running on the Democratic, and Republican, tickets than just these frontrunners.  Though these five have the best shot at the Presidency, it is important to understand and know about the politics of the full field before deciding who to support.


The next Democratic debate is scheduled for September 12th, and for the first time this election period, there is only one night of debate.  In order to qualify, candidates had to have at least 2% in four DNC-recognized polls and contributions from over 130,000 people, with at least 400 unique donors in 20+ states.  This benchmark was added to cut down the number of candidates who would qualify and to ensure that the candidates who did qualify had the most national support. The four democratic frontrunners (Biden, Warren, Sanders, and Harris) all qualified, along with Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, and Andrew Yang.  Here’s the rundown on these bottom six on the most divisive issues: healthcare, immigration, climate change, and student debt/colleges.


Cory Booker, New Jersey Senator

Where there is unity, there is strength.


Fun fact: Booker became a vegetarian in 1992 and vegan in 2014.  His last non-Vegan meal was from IHOP.

Healthcare: Booker writes on his website, he will “fight for Medicare for All.”  Medicare for All is a government-run insurance and health care program that would cover all Americans.  This would replace public and private plans. Booker sponsored this bill, introduced by Sanders, but would want gradual change as President, and would not introduce it as the only option.

Immigration: Booker believes that “our immigration system is broken.”  As President, he aims to end family separation and not treat asylum-seeking immigrants as criminals.  He also believes in an easier pathway to citizenship for undocumented or illegal immigrants.

Climate change: Booker wants to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, which Donald Trump pulled the United States out of.  Rejoining the Paris Climate Accord would put the United States back into an international conversation on climate change and recommit us to addressing it.  Booker also supports a Green New Deal, which was introduced by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts earlier this year.  This would put the United States on a path to greatly reduce the greenhouse emissions that are adding to climate change.

Student debt/college: Booker wants debt-free college.  In March 2019, he reintroduced a bill that would restore “a path to affordable college by providing states incentives through matching grants to increase investments in public higher education and provide students with debt-free college.”


Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana:

It’s time for a new generation of American leadership.


Fun fact: Mayor Pete is the youngest candidate in the race, and he is the first openly gay Democratic presidential candidate.

Healthcare: Medicare for All who want it.  Basically, Mayor Pete believes in providing people the opportunity to buy into a public option.  His justification for this policy is that people will gravitate towards the lower costs on his public plan, and unless private health care drops their prices, eventually it will be Medicare for All.

Immigration: Mayor Pete wants common sense immigration reform.  He wants to end family separation, and, similar to Booker, to make the pathway to citizenship easier.

Climate change: Mayor Pete also believes in implementing a Green New Deal, and also feels strongly that the change begins at the local level.  He plans to involve all levels to develop a plan to reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency.

Student debt/college: Mayor Pete believes in debt-free college to make education more accessible for all.  He wants to cancel the “debts of borrowers in low-quality, overwhelmingly for-profit programs” and invest heavily in Historically Black Colleges and institutions serving minorities.


Julián Castro, Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary:

America isn’t just my home and my country — it’s always been a promise for a better life. A promise that every American deserves.


Fun fact: Castro has an identical twin who is also a politician.

Healthcare: Julián Castro believes in Medicare-for-all.  He plans to finance this by raising taxes on the wealthiest individuals in America (~the top 1%) and corporations.  With his plan, he wants to prevent health care companies from charging high premiums, as his plan would just be a part of the taxes people pay each year, so Americans are guaranteed quality healthcare at a set price.

Immigration: Castro’s grandmother was an immigrant, so this issue is personal for him.  He wants to make sure that, if he becomes President, people are put first in his reformed immigration system.  He also wants the path to citizenship to be more inclusive and attainable. He has lots of ideas on how to improve our immigration system, including accepting asylum seekers and refugees, as well as changing how we handle our southern border.

Climate change: Castro wants to put “people & the planet first.”  He also wants Green New Deal principles and aims to have net-zero emissions by 2045.  He also wants all electricity in the US to be clean by 2035 in order to attain his zero emissions goal.  In terms of the people part of his promise, he wants to end environmental racism — in which low income communities disproportionately end up living in unsafe environmental conditions.

Student debt/college: Castro wants to “eliminate tuition at public colleges, universities, community colleges, and technical and vocational schools.”  He also wants to change how student debt is paid off by making sure that, until the student can really pay, they don’t have to. This is slightly different than the debt-free plans of the previous two candidates, as Castro is not including board, books, etc. in his tuition free plan, which is included when it is truly debt-free.


Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Senator:

Let’s get to work.


Fun fact: Klobuchar wrote a book The Senator Next Door: A Memoir from the Heartland which was published in 2015.

Healthcare: Amy Klobuchar wants “a public option that expands Medicare or Medicaid.”  She, similarly to Mayor Pete, wants an optional Medicare/Medicaid plan which will bring down the cost of private health care so that it can remain competitive.

Immigration: Klobuchar is critical of the way that Trump has handled immigration.  She feels that he made decisions based on racism, and that immigration is only an issue because Trump has not worked with “these Central American countries a long time ago to try to get to a point where we didn’t see this extraordinary amount of people coming through.”

Climate change: Klobuchar is a co-sponsor of a Green New Deal.  She has promised that day 1 of her presidency she will bring the US back into the International Climate Change Agreement, and in the two days following she will re-enact some of the clean legislation from the Obama Administration.  She also wants to invest in clean energy and incentivize corporations to go clean.

Student debt/college: Klobuchar is more moberate when it comes to student debt.  She is against widespread student loan forgiveness, but believes that students should be able to refinance their loans to a lower rate.  She is also against making college completely debt-free, as she believes that structural reforms will have more of an impact with less cost.


Beto O’Rourke, Former Texas Representative:

It’s gonna take all of us.


Fun fact: O’Rourke almost beat the incumbent Texas senator, Ted Cruz (a republican), in the race earlier this year.  Though it was a state election, O’Rourke got national support. Beyonce posted about his campaign on her Instagram page.

Healthcare: Beto O’Rourke’s plan advocates for Medicare-for-all who want it, like many of the other candidates.  Anyone who does not have healthcare or wants to be in Medicare can be, and anyone who wants to maintain their current private healthcare can do that as well.  He wants to make healthcare more accessible overall, regardless of how people choose to get it.

Immigration: O’Rourke wants to revamp our immigration process.  He is from El Paso, Texas, a border town with a large binational community, so these issues are close to home for him.  He wants to end family separation and child detention, as well as expedite the citizenship path and create a path for undocumented immigrants.

Climate change: O’Rourke announced an ambitious plan earlier this year that would have the United States reach net-zero emissions by 2050.  He has said that “Climate change will be [his] top priority as President.” Texas is one of the states that has suffered from extreme weather calamities, and O’Rourke vows to help other communities who are suffering in the same way or even more.  He aims to be realistic with his plan, but also do enough that we don’t do more damage to our planet.

Student debt/college: Beto wants to make higher education more accessible.  His plan is to make Community College free and make the first two years at a state institution tuition-free.  He also wants to increase grant aid to limit the amount of loans students are taking on, and for those who already have loans, he plans to allow them to refinance their loans.


Andrew Yang, Businessman:

Not Left, Not Right, Forward.


Fun fact: The policy that really differentiates Yang from the rest of the nomination contenders is his “Freedom Dividend.”  The policy would give every adult over the age of 18 $1000 a month. He has said that he would finance this through a tax on corporations who benefit from automation.

Healthcare: Yang believes in Medicare-for-All.  He believes that this would lead to more empathy from doctors, as they are placed on a salary rather than feeling as though they must “act as factory workers, churning through patients and prescribing redundant tests.”

Immigration: Yang believes that something must be done about undocumented immigrants, but deportation is not the answer.  He wants to create a pathway to citizenship, however, he wants it to reflect that undocumented immigrants broke the law by entering the country.

Climate change: Yang believes climate change is a major issue and that the government should regulate fossil fuels, but that most of the work should be done at the local level rather than the national level.  He does still want the federal government to support these local efforts through incentives.

Student debt/college: Yang wants to control the cost of higher education, mainly by cutting back on the number of administrators a school can have to receive public funding.  He also plans to “stipulate that any university that receives public funding cannot increase its costs by more than the rate of annual median wage growth the year before.”