A Student’s Review of the Democratic Candidates
By Sam Riscar
Ah, politics. Whoever you’re with, it’s sure to spice up the conversation. In some cases it can give the chat a pleasant, zesty kick, but most of the time it’s like you’ve spilled hot sauce all over a dish that would’ve been just fine dry.
Food metaphors aside, its debate season, and the upcoming democratic debate has people either quivering with excitement, or dread. I’m not denying the importance of our national issues, but if all I see is politics, it makes it harder to forget the world sucks. I usually go online to pretend everything is more or less okay, but that’s impossible during campaign season.
Before you get into heated arguments with your friends about ideological and sometimes intrinsic personal ideals, here’s a summary of each candidate, what they’re bringing to the table, and why you should care.
Let’s start with some of the lesser-known candidates. At the bottom of the polls is Lincoln Chafee. In fact, according to Time Magazine, Chafee has “literally zero support” according to a poll by Monmouth University. Needless to say, he’s got nowhere to go but up.
What are some of his ideas? His website describes him as a former mayor, senator, and governor of Rhode Island that actually used to be a Republican, but he ditched the title in 2007. He was one of the only Republican senators to vote against the war in Iraq, and he served as Obama’s co-chair in 2012, voting for him twice, despite his GOP past.
While governing Rhode Island in 2010 at the height of the recession, he emphasized the importance of education, infrastructure, and workforce development, reversing cuts on state colleges and achieving a record drop in unemployment in his state, not to mention his championing of the Marriage Equality Act.
Everything here sounds good—why isn’t he more popular in the polls? My guess is he doesn’t have enough substance, enough zest, if you will. Bernie’s got the angry grandpa look going for him, and Hillary’s name brand recognition is about as high as any fast food joint. He just doesn’t have the personality for broader politics, it seems. Only time will tell if he can turn that around in the upcoming debate.
Next is Martin O’Malley. The Atlantic describes him as possibly the most ignored candidate of 2016, but with Trump’s bigoted ad hominems hogging TV spots from Fox News to The Tonight Show, who can blame us?
As governor of Maryland, he shepherded a liberal agenda including gay marriage, gun control, the end to the death penalty, and in-state college tuition for undocumented immigrants.
For any of you interested, he apparently plays in an Irish Rock Band. Go figure. He’s going to need that rock-star experience too, because at 2% in the polls, it’s going to take some serious stage thrashing to turn some heads.
Then, there’s Jim Webb, who is about as interesting as this paragraph is long. Former Virginia senator, he served with the Marines, a counsel for Congress, an assistant secretary of defense, and Secretary of the Navy. He’s an advocate for ending the war on drugs and prison reform.
Now it’s time for the heavy hitters. No matter which side of the spectrum you’re on, you’ve probably heard of both of them. As I said before, Hillary Clinton’s brand recognition could be equated a fast food restaurant, perhaps Taco Bell—they both might leave you with a bad aftertaste and more than a hint of indigestion.
She’s an eloquent speaker, and she knows her way about the ballpark, which will be a key factor when these sluggers enter the ring.
However, at the age of 74, Bernie Sanders still somehow manages to be the new kid in town. He manages to tap dance down the line between endearing grandfather and crotchety old man, shouting about the corrupt establishment that big banks have created through Congressional pawns.
He is, by the way, a socialist. Okay, now that half of you are done gasping and blushing at the thought of such a radical political orientation, allow me to explain what he says that really means. On USA Today, Sen. Sanders opined, “Democratic socialism is taking a hard look at what countries like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, (and) Sweden … have done over the years and try to ascertain what they have done right, in terms of protecting the needs of millions of working families.”
Basically, he wants to put more power into the hands of the people, and restore the shrinking middle class to its former glory, which isn’t all that bad once you get past the big socialist buzzword people like to throw around like it’s an insult.
Sen.’s Clinton and Sanders are neck and neck in the polls right now. It seems when one jumps ahead in one state, the other leaps ahead in another. It’ll take more than just one debate to see who pulls ahead. We’ll have to wait and see who comes out on top.
Even though Vice President Joe Biden isn’t in the race as of now, whether he likes it or not, his name is in contention and, if he chooses to run, odds are he would easily be able to pull ahead of both Clinton and Sanders. Like I’ve said many times in this article, time will tell. We’re only a couple months in, and we’ve watched Trump go from a joke, to a veritable candidate, and now he’s on the slow decline back to a joke.
The debates, no doubt, will affect who we will be seeing more of, and who will be taking the walk of shame. Tune in to CNN on October 13th to see for yourself who will rise, and who will fall.