Democrats divided


Emma Shapiro

Though 2019 has just barely begun, the 2020 presidential race is well underway.

Half a dozen Democrats have already declared their candidacy, and with the momentum from the 2018 Midterm elections, Democrats share one aim: defeat President Donald Trump in 2020. Yet, despite its unified goal, the Democratic party’s lack of cohesion is evident.

Comprised of various genders, sexualities and ethnicities, the current field is the most diverse in history.

However, the Democratic candidates are differentiated by the political standpoints and initiatives they promote in their bids for the presidency.
On Dec. 31, Harvard-Westlake grandparent and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (Octavia Tyagi ’19, Lavinia Tyagi ’23) was the first candidate to enter the race, emerging as a possible front runner for the Democratic nomination. Warren is known for her role on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and for supporting harsher regulation of the financial industry after the 2008 financial crisis.

In her campaign video, Warren portrayed herself as a family oriented woman dedicated to strengthening the middle-class and lessening income inequality. While she is well liked among liberal Democrats for her outspoken attacks on Trump, her colleagues have expressed concern over her unwillingness to moderate certain aspects of her agenda, such as bank regulation, at the expense of party unity.

In addition to Warren, three other women have also declared their candidacy: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Sen. Kamala Harris of California.

Due to her gender, ethnicity and name recognition, Harris will likely enjoy a broad voter base. Representing the recent ideological changes in her party, Harris is a strong contender for the Democratic candidate. However, Harris takes a far left-leaning stance on certain issues, and sometimes her inability to compromise with some of the conservative members of the Senate on issues may prove problematic for her chances.

Additionally, Gillibrand has positioned herself as a leader of the #MeToo movement and a maternal figure fighting for mothers and families as a whole. Gillibrand has called for improving public schools and the education system as well as universal health care. However, allegations about possible racial discrimination in her past may prevent her from securing the African-American vote during the primary.

Former Mayor of San Antonio and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro also declared his campaign Jan. 12. Castro is a third-generation Mexican-American and a moderate in the Democratic party. Castro lacks the name recognition that Harris, Gillibrand and Warren possess which is crucial in running a popular campaign.

Most recently, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigeig also announced that he will run for president. Buttigeig is a 37-year-old, openly gay Afghanistan war veteran. Compared with major figures, such as Gillibrand, Harris and Warren, Buttigeig is entering the race with little name recognition. However, Buttigeig is a fresh voice in politics that can offer new perspectives.

As of press time, there was also speculation over whether former Vice President Joe Biden and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke will run.

Both Biden and O’Rourke, despite their different levels of experience, would make the race for the Democratic nomination more competitive, considering both have a high level of name recognition. Biden will most likely obtain former President Barack Obama’s support, and due to his prior experience as Vice President, he is a likely contender. On the other hand, O’Rourke, who is semi-new to politics, gained his recognition and popularity during the Midterm election, and his new voice may appeal to a different set of Democratic voters.

Even though there is an influx of candidates for the Democratic party, there is no clear front runner to win the nomination and face off against Trump in the general election.

Most of the Democrats in the race are running primarily to oppose the president, but the unifying factors between them end there. The Democrats must find a guiding voice and platform to gain the support they need if they want to win the White House.