The Who's Who of Who's Running: Part 3

There are now 16 candidates for the next president of the United States!

My last article published only one month ago reported nine Democratic candidates, but since then John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Marianne Williamson and William Weld have joined the race. By my next article, maybe every Democrat in Congress will have joined the race. The sky's the limit (until the Iowa caucuses). It does feel like everybody with any degree of political clout is running, but that is because for every article about someone who is actually running there are two others debating who may run, from Sherrod Brown to Michelle Obama to Hillary Clinton—and for the record they are not running.

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John Hickenlooper has held some prestigious political offices. He spent eight years serving as the governor of Colorado and another eight as the mayor of Denver. The New York Times categorizes Hickenlooper as a political moderate. He works well with Democrats and Republicans, as Colorado is considered a purple state—meaning the state is often divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans. While Hickenlooper does not have the same national recognition as Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, The Denver Post warns against underestimating Hickenlooper, known as a “dark horse” who went on to win his 2003 mayoral race through his authentic interactions with voters and “a focus on solving problems that mattered to voters.” Hickenlooper’s platform centers around Medicaid, gun control and gay rights.

Another governor running is Jay Inslee, the current governor of Washington and a former congressman. While Inslee is also fairly unknown outside of his home state compared to some of his fellow Democrats running for president, he may rise to national recognition for his commitment to climate change. This issue has captured the minds and energies of the youth of America and the world. Inslee stated, “I’m running for president because I am the only candidate who will make defeating climate change our nation’s No. 1 priority.” He does have the background to back this claim up. As a congressman, Inslee served on the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and as governor, Inslee created the Clean Energy Fund. This fund has put $100 million dollars into creating jobs in the green energy industry and developing green energy.

Amy Klobuchar is currently a senator from Minnesota, who after years of being relatively unknown, rose to national attention from her questioning of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing. According to The New York Times, her questioning was “stern” and “cool.” Klobuchar is far more moderate than her progressive counterparts, and she wants to reclaim the swing states with this moderatism. Her campaign has been largely focused on addressing the exorbitant cost of prescriptions and combating the opioid epidemic. Still, a dark cloud has followed her campaign. Former aides have gained media attention for calling Klobuchar verbally abusive and stating that she created a toxic work environment. At the same time, much of these complaints have been called out for being sexist. The thought is that while many male candidates have also been tough bosses, they didn’t have this much media attention. This could also work in her favor as she has positioned herself as a tough candidate.

Bernie Sanders unequivocally has the most name recognition on this list having been an extremely popular candidate in the 2016 election. In 2016, his refreshing progressive policies energized the newest generation of voters. Sanders is currently an Independent senator from Vermont and was an Independent congressman, but he is running for president as a Democrat. He describes himself as Democratic Socialist much like congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who gained fame after her 2018 victory against incumbent Joe Crowley for the 14th District of New York. The New York Times believes that Sanders will at first be the candidate with most supporters as Sanders’ supporters from 2016 have waited impatiently for his 2020 run.

Sanders may have this built-in base, but he no longer stands out as the most progressive or radical candidate as many other progressive candidates like Elizabeth Warren have adopted his ideas. Sanders called this out at a rally in Iowa saying, “Shock of all shocks, those very same [radical] ideas are now supported not only by Democratic candidates for president but by Democratic candidates all across the board, from school board on up.” The New York Times also considers Sanders to be the front runner but raises concerns that within the Democratic party. A decision will have to be made: Does America want progressivism and democratic socialism as seen in the popularity of Sanders in 2016 or does America want moderate politicians who are seen as being the reason the Democrats took back the house? Sanders advocates for a “government and economy that work for all,” and his platform calls for free college, taxing billionaires and Medicare-for-all.

Marianne Williamson, much like Andrew Yang, is in the business sector and has never been a politician. Williamson did run in 2014 for Congress as an Independent, but lost. She calls for “a moral and spiritual awakening in the country.” Williamson is Oprah’s spiritual advisor and friend, as well as a new-age lecturer and an internationally renowned author of self-help and spirituality books. She also founded Project Angel Food which serves meals to people with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles. Her charity has served over 11.5 million meals. Williamson does not have a clear platform of issues, but much like Yang she supports giving money to the people, specifically $100 billion dollars in reparations for slavery and $10 billion for economic and education projects.

The idea of reparations is to bridge the gap between the median black and white household. According to Vox, the median white household has ten times the wealth of the median black household, and this is considered to be a result of the centuries of slavery and discrimination faced by African Americans. The idea of reparations does have historical precedence with money being paid to survivors of Japanese internment camps decades after the fact. While still unpopular politically, the idea of reparations and a formal apology has gained popularity in academia, but it is unclear if this money would come in the form of direct cash to the descendants of slaves or in free college or health insurance or supporting community initiatives.

For being the only Republican to break ranks and run against President Trump, there is very little known about presidential candidate William Weld. Weld was the former governor of Massachusetts, a former federal prosecutor and was on the 2016 Libertarian party ticket as vice president to Gary Johnson. He was quoted saying, “I hope to see the Republican Party assume once again the mantle of being the party of Lincoln.” The New York Times states Weld wishes to be “a voice for alienated moderates and mainstream conservatives.” According to PBS, Weld supports LGBT rights and abortion while also cutting taxes and increasing access to Medicaid. Weld has positioned himself as a Republican opposition to Trump.