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American Presidential Election Thread, 2020 Edition

Jabberwocky

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Well, candidates are coming out of the woodwork, so I figure it's about time to make this thread. The 2020 election is still over a year away, but the primary season will be starting in earnest in the next few months, so we may as well talk about who's up for the prize.

Republican Candidates

The Republican Party is a right-wing and majority socially conservative party, which also has large and influential right-wing populist and libertarian wings. It is the party of the incumbent President, Donald Trump, who is aligned with the right-populist wing. Trump's policies and personal manner have proven historically unpopular, and there is significant opposition to Trump within his own party, which both serve to undermine the typical advantages of incumbency Trump would otherwise enjoy.

- Donald Trump: Incumbent President, from New York. Trump has been campaigning almost since the last election, seeking to hold his base intact amidst historic unpopularity. Trump trails in most polls, but he did in 2016 as well, and he will look to the Midwest to win him the Electoral College, as it did the first time. The core policies of his campaign are essentially his greatest hits: his still-unbuilt border wall, "better deals," and nationalism.

- Bill Weld: Former Governor (1991-1997) of Massachusetts. Weld was the Libertarian Party's Vice-Presidential candidate in 2016, and is running as a moderate, libertarian alternative to Trump. Weld is the first major primary challenger an incumbent President has faced since Pat Buchanan challenged George HW Bush in 1992 (Lyndon LaRouche won the North Dakota Democratic primary in 1996, but Bill Clinton was not on the ballot in the state). Historically, a major primary challenger for a sitting President has foretold a loss in the general.

Democratic Candidates

The Democratic Party is a center-left and majority social liberal party, with significant progressive, social democratic, and centrist wings, as well as a conservative wing with outsized influence. The party has been largely leaderless since 2016, with no single frontrunner for the Presidency, and the field is expected to be historically wide.

Officeholders:

- John Delaney: Former US Representative (2013-2019), from Maryland. The first major Democratic candidate (national-level office holder) to announce his candidacy, way back in 2017. Delaney's campaign has emphasized his bipartisan record, and a major campaign promise is that he would govern on an exclusively bipartisan basis for his first 100 days. A centrist, Delaney believes that national unity is more important than progressive goals. If elected, he would be the first President elected from the House of Representatives since James Garfield. Delaney's primary weakness is that despite two years of campaigning, he has yet to make inroads and gain name recognition, and has no signature policies or issues to carve out a niche.

- Elizabeth Warren: US Senator (2013-present) from Massachusetts. Warren is considered one of the leading progressive Democrats in the Senate, and gained national attention and acclaim in early 2017, when she was disciplined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for reading a letter from Coretta Scott King which McConnell claimed impugned the character of then-Senator Jeff Sessions. However, Warren has been targeted by Trump and other Republicans for her claims of Native American heritage, and her attempts at damage control have been clumsy. Her major policy proposals include a wealth tax on the most financially well-off. Warren is popular with progressives, but has weaknesses, including her handling of the heritage scandal and her overwhelming unpopularity with major Democratic donors. If elected, she would be the first female President.

- Julian Castro: Former Mayor of San Antonio (2009-2014), Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (2014-2017), from Texas. Castro is campaigning as a technocrat, with a similar style to the centrist New Democrats which dominated the party in the 1990s. He has promised to make the first year of college more affordable, and to expand opportunities for working and middle-class families to gain education and skills. If elected he would be the first Hispanic President, as well as the first President elected from the Cabinet since Herbert Hoover. His weaknesses are a lack of name recognition and the fact that, being a centrist at a time when progressivism and nationalism are both the main ideological forces among the parties' bases, Castro is unlikely to inspire many.

- Tulsi Gabbard: US Representative (2013-present) from Hawaii. Gabbard came to national prominence by endorsing Bernie Sanders for President in the 2016 primaries, and for giving a well-received speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Gabbard has positioned herself as an anti-interventionist progressive since that time, and likely seeks to gain the support of the coalition Bernie Sanders was able to build to support him in 2016 as her core support. However, Gabbard's progressive credentials have been called into question: her record on LGBT rights is spotty, her opposition to war and interventionism is inconsistent, and her strong support for Hindu nationalist groups and especially India's controversial leader Narendra Modi has garnered significant criticism. If elected, Gabbard would be the first female President, the first Hindu President (and consequently the first non-Christian President), and the first President of Samoan descent, as well as the first President since James Garfield to be elected from the House of Representatives.

- Kirsten Gillibrand: US Senator (2009-present) and former US Representative (2007-2009), from New York. Gillibrand's campaign has sought to stake out a place for her between the centrist and progressive wings of the Democratic Party, and can be described as essentially a social liberal campaign. She has emphasized creating economic opportunity, making education affordable, and establishing Medicare For All. Her primary weakness is her inconsistency, having altered her positions repeatedly on multiple key issues. She is viewed by some progressives as essentially a repeat of Hillary Clinton, and would struggle to gain their support. If elected, she would be the first female President.


- Kamala Harris: US Senator (2017-present) from California, former Attorney General (2011-2017) of California. Kamala Harris' campaign has attempted to align her with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, while leaving room to compromise with the liberals and centrists. Harris' signature issue has been criminal justice reform, emphasizing mass incarceration and police brutality. She has also expressed support for Medicare For All. Harris' record as a prosecutor has been criticized and scrutinized, and her work to enforce the mass incarceration she currently criticized, and her support for ICE, has brought her commitment to reform into doubt. Progressives have also criticized her inconsistency on what policies she supports, her declining to prosecute Steve Mnuchin, from whom her Senatorial campaign received financial contributions, and her campaign's focus on personality over policy. If elected, she would be the first female President, the second black President, and the first President of Indian descent.

- Pete Buttigeig: Mayor of South Bend (2012-present), Indiana. Buttigeig has been a rising star since his election as Mayor of South Bend in 2011, garnering national attention for his management of the city. His campaign has emphasized his youth and his record as Mayor. If elected, he would be the second President elected without holding either national level office or high military rank, as well as the first openly gay President.

- Cory Booker: US Senator (2013-present) from New Jersey, former Mayor of Newark, New Jersey (2006-2013). Booker has been the subject of Presidential speculation since 2016, and has spent much of his time since 2017 building up progressive credentials in the Senate. Booker's primary weakness is his reputation as a centrist with strong corporate ties, especially to the pharmaceutical industry, which will make garnering progressive support difficult to impossible for him. If elected, he would be the second black President.

- Amy Klobuchar: US Senator (2007-present) from Minnesota. Klobuchar, like Delaney, is running as a centrist touting her bipartisan credentials. Reports of mistreatment of staff on her part have hurt her campaign with Democratic voters before it even began. If elected, she would be the first female President.

- Bernie Sanders: US Senator (2007-present) and former US Representative (1991-2007), from Vermont. Bernie's campaign is expected to be in many ways a follow-up to his 2016 campaign, with the same themes of social democracy and justice which won him popularity and acclaim. He emerges immediately as one of the main frontrunners in the primary. If elected, he would be the oldest President in US history, and would be 79 upon taking office. He would also be the first Jewish President.

- Jay Inslee: Governor (2013-present) of Washington. Inslee is leaning on his reputation as a national leader on climate issues, and is centering the issue of climate change in his campaign.

- John Hickenlooper: Governor (2011-2019) of Colorado. Hickenlooper is a centrist who also touts progressive credentials on issues such as gun control and climate.

- Wayne Messam: Mayor (2015-present) of Miramar, Florida. Messam is running as a progressive and Washington outsider and stresses the urgency of issues such as gun violence and climate change which are affecting America. If elected, he would be the second black President.

- Beto O'Rourke: US Representative (2013-2019) from Texas. Hoping to capitalize on the interest generated by his 2018 Senate campaign, O'Rourke is attempting a similar grassroots campaign style, but now that he is on the national stage, the lack of substance in his speeches, his inconsistent policy positions, and ties to pro-fossil fuel and pro-Israel lobbies are beginning to come under more scrutiny.

- Mike Gravel: US Senator (1969-1981) from Alaska. Gravel's campaign is not actually focused on winning the primaries as such. Gravel's goal is to get into the debates and inject his views into the discourse. These include opposition to American interventionism.

- Tim Ryan: US Representative (2003-present), from Ohio. A moderate to conservative Democrat from a swing state, Ryan will hope to win over erstwhile Republican voters to gain support, but will struggle to win support from progressives.

- Eric Swalwell: US Representative (2013-present), from California. Swalwell is focusing his campaign primarily on the issue of gun control, favoring a buyback program for so-called "assault weapons."

Non-Officeholders:

- Andrew Yang: Entrepreneur and venture capitalist from New York. Yang's dark horse candidacy has received some media attention due to his qualification for the initial primary debates on the strength of 65,000 donors, as well as his signature policy proposal of a universal basic income of $12,000 a year for every American. Yang has received support from alt-right communities on sites like 4chan and 8chan, though Yang denounces his alt-right supporters. If elected, he would be the first Asian-American President.

- Marianne Williamson: Activist and entrepreneur, from California. Williamson is running as a progressive, supporting progressive policies such as Medicare For All and a national $15 minimum wage. Williamson has also brought the subject of reparations for the descendants of enslaved black people into the national discourse, saying that she would support a reparations program. If elected, she would be the first female President.

Libertarian Candidates

The Libertarian Party is a center to center-right party which ideologically identifies with right-wing libertarianism, which emphasizes the importance of free-market capitalism and limited government interference. With previous standard-bearer Gary Johnson declining to run again, and former Vice-Presidential candidate Bill Weld seeking the Republican nomination, the Libertarians have no frontrunner.

- Adam Kokesh: Activist, from California

- Vermin Supreme: Activist and perennial candidate, from Massachusetts

- John McAfee: Businessman and computer programmer, from Tennessee


- Arvin Vorha: Former Vice Chair of the Libertarian National Committee, from Maryland

Green Candidates

The Green Party is a center-left to left-wing party which promotes ecosocialism, a fusion of socialism and environmentalism, and is generally supportive of environmental causes. The Green New Deal started life as a Green policy which has since gone mainstream.

- Dario Hunter: Member of the Board of Education of Youngstown (2016-present), Ohio

- Ian Schlakman: Former co-chair of the state Green Party and candidate for Governor (2018) of Maryland

American Solidarity Candidates

The American Solidarity Party is a centrist party which identifies ideologically with Christian democracy, which entails liberal to progressive economic policies but conservative social policies.

- Joe Schriner: Activist and perennial candidate, from Illinois


Independent Candidates

- Howard Schultz: Businessman and former Chairman of Starbucks Corporation, from Washington. Schultz announced his intention to explore an independent, centrist candidacy for the Presidency, reportedly in response to progressive policies being pushed by prominent Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Schultz has struggled to find any substantial support for his campaign, which has been described as quixotic, and Democrats have accused him of risking a split in the vote and helping to re-elect Donald Trump.
 
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Kung Fu Ferret

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If Bernie and/or Tulsi doesn't make it, I'm voting Vermin Supreme!
 

Jabberwocky

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Beto's my guy.
As a Texan, I urge you to reconsider :p Beto would be fine as a Vice-President, but he's inexperienced and he's pretty unimpressive when it comes to policy. He's also got ties to the fossil fuel lobby in Texas that I don't like, and I don't think he'd be as decisive on climate change as is necessary.
 

Hector

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As a Texan, I urge you to reconsider :p Beto would be fine as a Vice-President, but he's inexperienced and he's pretty unimpressive when it comes to policy. He's also got ties to the fossil fuel lobby in Texas that I don't like, and I don't think he'd be as decisive on climate change as is necessary.
So for me, the thing that really strikes out to me about Beto is that un-quantifiable x-factor: that being the fact that he inspires people. I know that Ted Cruz is uniquely unlikable, but for a Democrat (and not even an extremely moderate one) to make a run at winning a senate seat in Texas...

As for the fossil fuel lobby, I can definitely understand a concern there given the steps we need to take regarding climate change. At this point though, I think some aspects of the green new deal are going to gain enough traction in the Democratic party in the primary season that even if the ultimate nominee isn't ultra environmentalist, the party will still end up moving things in the right direction.

He may be a better fit for VP considering his youth and inexperience, but there isn't anyone in the race that inspires me to get out and actually work on a campaign except for him (I did work for a campaign in 2012 when i was still in college, and I'd definitely volunteer for Beto's run).
 

Jabberwocky

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So for me, the thing that really strikes out to me about Beto is that un-quantifiable x-factor: that being the fact that he inspires people. I know that Ted Cruz is uniquely unlikable, but for a Democrat (and not even an extremely moderate one) to make a run at winning a senate seat in Texas...
Thing is, the results in Texas in 2018 weren't so much Beto himself as much as they were his strategy: getting out and campaigning in every county very early on, and adopting a progressive platform which ran contrary to what the Texas Democratic Party usually vomits up (generally boring centrist technocrats who try and fail to appeal to conservatives). It worked - or nearly worked, I should say, because regardless of how close he got he still lost - in Texas because he was so different from other Democratic candidates Texas has seen. On a national level, though? Visiting every county even in all the early primary states isn't practical, and it's a bit late now to get in early. Compared to Gabbard, Warren, Bernie if he runs, hell, even Harris, there's a lot less going for Beto to stand out from the crowd, and he really doesn't have that much charisma - most of his speeches in the campaign were pretty dry when viewed outside of the starry eyes of a Democrat who thinks they might win Texas, and he's neither a rhetorical firebrand nor a convincing policy wonk. He's the golden boy for plenty of liberals, I know this, but as someone who lives in Texas, and who has watched his career since he entered Congress, he'd end up with at best an equivalent showing to Howard Dean. I could see him running up till Super Tuesday to scoop Texas' delegates to try and play kingmaker in a brokered convention, but I don't think he has a chance either in the primaries or the general as the headliner.

At this point though, I think some aspects of the green new deal are going to gain enough traction in the Democratic party in the primary season that even if the ultimate nominee isn't ultra environmentalist, the party will still end up moving things in the right direction.
I don't trust that that's the case. Pelosi and Schumer still hold the reins, and they're both centrists who love to rub shoulders with big donors, and saving the environment is bad for business. Regardless of individual representatives' thoughts on a Green New Deal (no Congressional proposals for which go nearly far enough in my estimation, since none of them explicitly call for the nationalization of the fossil fuel industry which at this point is the only way to neuter the insurmountable obstacle they otherwise pose to phasing out non-renewable energy), the leadership clearly feels no commitment to anything more progressive than the carbon tax the party has been pushing for over a decade which is no longer sufficient to mitigate the effects of climate change.
 

Jabberwocky

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Amy Klobuchar has announced her candidacy. Unlikely to get very far, given the reports of horrendous treatment of her staff that have been coming out.
 

ocelotlrama jaguar

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First off, I want to apologize for a 2015 comment I made in the 2016 presidential thread saying the American people would never stoop to voting for Trump. I was obviously very wrong.

On topic, I like all Democratic candidates except Tulsi Gabbard. I don't like the way she votes and she reminds me a little of Trump without the big mouth.

I hope this isn't going to be a repeat of 2016. Every candidate has their faults and people really need to get over falling in love with "cool and perfect," especially since Trump and Pence have both proven to be unbelievably terrible. I just want a sane adult back in the White House.
 

Jabberwocky

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Bill Weld has announced he is running against Trump in the Republican primaries. This is the first time an incumbent President has faced a major primary challenger since 1992.
 

Aulos

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Meh. I liked Bernie Sanders back in the day and voted for him in the 2016 primaries, but I'm really not too happy to see that divisiveness introduced back into the Democrat race. Trump getting elected has been a straight-up disaster from day one and I absolutely want no repeat of that at all.
 

Jabberwocky

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Meh. I liked Bernie Sanders back in the day and voted for him in the 2016 primaries, but I'm really not too happy to see that divisiveness introduced back into the Democrat race. Trump getting elected has been a straight-up disaster from day one and I absolutely want no repeat of that at all.
I'd be very curious how you would go about holding a primary race without any intraparty division. It's very curious how this criticism is never leveled against Hillary Clinaton's 2008 campaign, which was far nastier and more divisive than Bernie's ever got, and was where the Obama secret Muslim conspiracy theories first took roost.
 

Jabberwocky

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Bernie's raised about $6 million in the first day of his campaign, blowing Harris' record out of the water. It's safe to say he's the early frontrunner for the nomination.
 

Jabberwocky

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(groan) Beto and (oh god please no) Biden are expected to announce runs very shortly. Bold of Beto to forgo a very winnable Senate race against John Cornyn in order to chase the glory of crashing and burning four months into his presidential campaign.
 

indigohex

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I'd be very curious how you would go about holding a primary race without any intraparty division. It's very curious how this criticism is never leveled against Hillary Clinaton's 2008 campaign, which was far nastier and more divisive than Bernie's ever got, and was where the Obama secret Muslim conspiracy theories first took roost.
And lets not forget the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was allegedly born in Kenya (which was championed by people like Donald Trump and Alex Jones of Infowars fame).

As an Australian, I feel that Donald Trump is America's answer to our own Tony Abbott, and he wasn't that popular. I just hope America gets rid of that embarrassment that is Trump. And good luck to the left-leaning candidates who I think will have a hard time from the American media.
 

Gengarzilla

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I think Trump's gonna be facing a serious uphill struggle if all the Democrat candidates keep their noses and reputations clean. He still couldn't claim that popular vote against Clinton when she was being dogged by some sort of email scandal last time, so what's the likelihood of him surviving someone with the wind at their back?
 
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