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Obama, Romney, and… Johnson? HC’s Guide to the 2012 Presidential Candidates

Before we know it, November 6th will be just around the corner and those of us who’ve chosen to vote (register to vote with the tool on the HC homepage if you haven’t already!) will cast a ballot, thereby finalizing our personal choice for the next President. But even up to Election Day, a good number of us will still be divided over who we want to vote for as choosing the next President isn’t always easy.

So who, exactly, is running in this election? What are they campaigning on? To clear things up, here are this year’s presidential candidates, both party-affiliated and independent!

Candidate: Barack Obama
Party: Democrat

Who is he?:
Current President and Democratic Party leader running for a second term

Some big platform issues:

1. The Economy
Obama took office months after the economy crashed back in 2008, and its lack of recovery has analysts branding it as a make-or-break issue for the President. A lot of Obama’s economic focus centers on the middle class, with proposals to extend tax cuts for those making under $250,000 a year while upping tax rates on the wealthy. He has also focused on pushing for jobs policies aimed at helping America’s manufacturing industry, and advocated measures that would keep jobs in the U.S.

2. Health Care
In 2010, Obama managed to pass the Affordable Health Care Act, which aimed to give millions more Americans health care coverage. Even now after the Supreme Court has ruled that its penalty is actually more of a tax, the President still clearly stands by his health care act and has made it one of his biggest selling points this election. Be sure to familiarize yourself with its provisions, including what health care reform will mean for students and women.

Also keep an eye on…
If you’re talking domestic issues, pay attention to Obama’s stances on immigration and abortion as well. Back in June, the President issued a directive that stopped the deportation of illegal immigrants who are under 30, which was interesting since Obama has actually deported more illegal immigrants than any other president in U.S. history. As for abortion, Obama has always been about pro-life initiatives, though he has previously been criticized for limiting coverage of abortion procedures to cases of rape, incest, and potential harm to the woman’s life.

Candidate: Mitt Romney
Party: Republican

Who is he?:
Republican presidential nominee and former governor of Massachusetts

Some big platform issues:

1. The Economy
While Obama wants to cut taxes for a specific group of people, Romney wants to do so for all income groups, no matter how wealthy or poor. At the same time, he also believes in reducing government spending so the country’s deficit can be reduced, a measure that he has touted time and time again on the campaign trail. In short, Romney seeks to achieve a small government infrastructure while also reducing national debt.

2. Health Care
Of course, part of Romney’s plan to cut down on government spending involves repealing “Obamacare” as well! Not only does he believe that the Affordable Health Care Act involves too much money, but Romney’s also already started attacking the tax part of the law as ruled by the Supreme Court. However, an important fact to understand is that Romney doesn’t oppose the Act because he doesn’t want universal health care. He has mentioned that he simply doesn’t believe that it should be implemented at a federal level, but rather that it should be state-based like the health law he instituted while governing Massachusetts.

Also keep an eye on…
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the efforts to ban Planned Parenthood in many parts of the country, and Romney has been associated with a lot of them. While it seems as though he doesn’t have an explicit involvement in reducing women’s health services, there’s this idea of a GOP “war on women” circulating around that may also hold truth. For now, Romney claims that many procedures should be under jurisdiction of the state rather than the federal government itself.

Candidate: Gary Johnson
Party: Libertarian

Who is he?:
Former Republican governor of New Mexico

Some big platform issues:

1. The Economy
The Libertarian Party has long sought to reduce the role of government, and Johnson is no exception to the rule! While some of Johnson’s economic platform, like his proposal to cut taxes all across the board, is like Romney’s, Johnson ultimately wants to lessen government involvement in the economy as well as in other sectors.

2. Foreign Policy
You may hear Obama and Romney talk a lot about foreign policy, but Johnson’s very different in that he doesn’t believe the U.S. should intervene in any foreign situation whatsoever. In this way, Johnson is quite isolationist, so expect a lot of talk about focusing, and solely focusing, on America!

Also keep an eye on…
You haven’t and won’t hear a lot of talk about drug legalization from Obama and Romney, but Johnson has actually made decriminalizing marijuana one of his primary campaign promises. His rationale for the decriminalization is to essentially counter the “War on Drugs,” which Johnson believes is a huge domestic problem for the U.S.
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Candidate: Alexander Stewart
Party: Socialist

Who is he?:
Former political activist, once ran for mayor of Los Angeles

Some big platform issues:

1. The Economy
Like every other candidate, Stewart puts a huge emphasis on taxes, job creation, and more to help the American economy. But unlike other candidates, he’s proposing that the U.S. operate on a socialist system rather than the capitalist one currently in place. He wants steep tax raises the higher the income, and advocates for the creation of more job safety nets to help workers.

2. The Social Safety Net
Stewart wants a big expansion of the social safety net, including healthcare! He believes that the current system doesn’t support those who really need it, hence the big emphasis on affordable housing, healthcare, and job benefits, among other proposals.

Also keep an eye on…
Stewart also champions equal funding and opportunities for all schools, claiming that the current system doesn’t benefit all students. This includes funding for adult education, and vigorous affirmative action policies.

Candidate: Stephen Rollins
Party: Independent

Who is he?:
Actor, writer, producer, director, and business owner

Some big platform issues:

1. The Economy
Rollins wants to reduce taxes and government spending while spurring job growth, as unemployment is one of the biggest issues facing the nation. One way Rollins wants to propose doing so is to stop the outsourcing of jobs to other countries around the world.

2. Education
The under-performance of U.S. high schools has led Rollins to argue that the Department of Education’s role shouldn’t be as big, and that education should be a state-run priority. Part of that priority should, according to Rollins, include higher testing standards for teachers so that the quality of education received will be higher.

Also keep an eye on…
Rollins hasn’t said too much about other issues at hand, though it wouldn’t hurt to still keep an eye on him to see what else he says.

In short: The election’s coming up, so know your candidates!

Whether they’re part of the Republican or Democratic Party, another smaller party, or even an independent, there’s a presidential candidate out there for you! Even if they may not eventually clinch the title of President of the United States, voting for a candidate will still let them know how much support they have out there. But first, take the time to get to know your candidates! You’re voting for the country’s future, so make sure you’re aware of what you, personally, would also like for the country.

So familiarize yourself with the candidates, get registered to vote (with the HC home page’s voter registration tool, perhaps?), and see you on Election Day! 

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Annie Pei

U Chicago

Annie is a Political Science major at the University of Chicago who not only writes for Her Campus, but is also one of Her Campus UChicago's Campus Correspondents. She also acts as Editor-In-Chief of Diskord, an online op-ed publication based on campus, and as an Arts and Culture Co-Editor for the university's new Undergraduate Political Review. When she's not busy researching, writing, and editing articles, Annie can be found pounding out jazz choreography in a dance room, furiously cheering on the Vancouver Canucks, or around town on the lookout for new places, people, and things. This year, Annie is back in DC interning with Voice of America once again!
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