Democrats who address critical issues and support bipartisanship are best fit to challenge Trump

May 22, 2019 — by Anna Novoselov

With an  overall approval rating of 45 percent as of mid-April — with 89 percent of Republicans, 39 percent of Independents and 8 percent of Democrats approving of him according to Gallup News) — President Trump will be a strong candidate in the 2020 Presidential election. In order to win the presidency, Democrats will need a passionate candidate who is responsive to the American people.

Ultimately, the candidate who appeals to struggling families and advocates a strong stance on critical issues like climate change will be best fit to challenge Trump. He or she would be most likely to win if his or her policies reflect bipartisan views and outline a clear plan for serving the majority of citizens.

According to The New York Times, as of April 26, 22 candidates have officially entered the presidential race, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, California Senator Kamala Harris, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke, former South Bend Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

At this point, it seems Biden, 76, will likely be a popular choice among Democrats due to his past experience in the White House and connection to former president Barack Obama. He raised a record-breaking $6.3 million in the first day of campaigning and leads in state and national polls, according to Politico Magazine. Biden has based his campaign on promises such as promoting the middle class, battling climate change, creating stronger gun regulations and eliminating public college tuition.

However, allegations of being too affectionate with women in informal settings, his age, a plagiarism scandal in the 1988 presidential election and comments such as his 2008 referral to Obama as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean” may mar his campaign.

Ultimately, Biden’s place in the polls will decrease as other candidates gain popularity and the media exposes past blunders: Biden failed to win the Democratic nomination two times prior (in 1988 and 2008), supported the controversial Iraq war in 2003, voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 (which allowed states to refuse rights to same-sex couples) and voted for the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (which led to mass incarceration). He was also a key player in discrediting the sexual harassment allegations against Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas leveled by law professor Anita Hill in 1991.

While Biden’s past opinions do not reflect his current ones, they may tarnish his reputation as the media exposes and emphasizes them. Especially after Trump’s record of corrupt activities and inflammatory rhetoric, American voters will likely want a candidate with a clean and consistent record.

Sanders leads rankings alongside Biden due to his popularity from the 2016 election and steady financial backing from his supporters. His socialist-leaning policies appeal to many young voters seeking a change in the nation’s politics.

Sanders supports Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, increasing taxes on the one percent, raising the federal minimum wage to $15 and eliminating public college tuition.

According to Gallup’s pollsters, the Democratic party has become more liberal and thus, is more receptive to Sanders than it would have been in previous years. However, his policies may be too left-wing for more moderate Democrat voters, particularly older voters.   

As of now, Biden and Sanders will most likely face off for the Democratic nomination with Biden supporting a “political restoration project” and Sanders championing a “political revolution.” However, other strong candidates such as Harris, O’Rourke and Warren may rise to challenge them closer to the election season.

Harris, O’Rourke and Warren’s similar ideas of unity and bipartisan cooperation may make them the best candidates to challenge Trump due to their ability to reflect the interests of a larger majority of voters, but they may not be able to overcome the current momentum of the Biden and Sanders campaigns. Nonetheless, if they receive the nomination, Republicans who dislike Trump will be more likely to vote for a fresh new face not associated with socialism or Obama.  

O’Rourke wants to rejoin the Paris climate accord, eliminate debt from the first two years of higher education, initiate a government-run insurance plan called Medicare-X and give legal status to most undocumented immigrants. He stated his intent to work with both Republicans and Democrats.

Harris supports the Paris climate accord, free tuition at public colleges, Medicare for All, DACA, LGBTQ+ rights and abortion. She appeals to many voters with her bipartisan proposals of reducing taxes for the lower and middle classes and encouraging trade.

Similarly, Warren supports strong action to combat climate change, free public college, affordable health care and trade renegotiations.

These candidates have climbed to the top five spots in most current polls and are steadily gaining recognition and approval. According to Rasmussen Reports, 73 percent of Democrats want a “fresh face” for president, while only 16 percent want a politician who has run in the past. 11 percent are undecided. In 2016, only 36 percent wanted to see someone new.

This desire for a fresh candidate may be the ultimate reason that Biden and Sanders will lose supporters.

Furthermore, women may be more likely to support a female candidate due to the novelty of a female U.S president, according to Vox.

Voters should judge candidates based on their policies and actions rather than on gender, but most often, prejudices cannot be completely eliminated. Factors such as sex, race, religion, and appearance certainly factor into voters’ evaluations of political figures.

Evidently, Trump won in 2016 largely because he appealed to the working class who felt dejected by stagnating wages and forgotten by Washington politicians. He strongly backed stimulating the economy and saving American jobs from overseas competitors.

If Democrats want to win back the presidency, they need to rally behind a candidate that represents the majority and encourages unity, prosperity and the attainability of the “American dream.”

The Democratic candidate who addresses the concerns of the American public and promotes economic growth while still maintaining democratic goals and retaining his or her dignity will surely prove most successful.

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