Who Has Entered the 2020 Race So Far? Too Many to Count.

2020 race, United States Presidential Election, entrances, signature issue, 2020 Presidential Election

The 2020 race for the presidency began after the last one ended, but most of the major candidates started coming out of the woodwork this year, and at least 24 are on the Democratic side.


Table of Contents (How This Will Be Done)

Since there are too many total candidates to count, here are the major candidates I will be looking at:

  1. Michael Bennet
  2. Joe Biden
  3. Cory Booker
  4. Steve Bullock
  5. Pete Buttigieg
  6. Bill de Blasio
  7. Julián Castro
  8. John Delaney
  9. Tulsi Gabbard
  10. Kirsten Gillibrand
  11. Mike Gravel
  12. Kamala Harris
  13. John Hickenlooper
  14. Jay Inslee
  15. Amy Klobuchar
  16. Seth Moulton
  17. Wayne Messam
  18. Beto O’Rourke
  19. Richard Ojeda
  20. Tim Ryan
  21. Bernie Sanders
  22. Joe Sestak
  23. Eric Swalwell
  24. Donald Trump
  25. Elizabeth Warren
  26. Bill Weld
  27. Marianne Williamson
  28. Andrew Yang

Note: Some candidates listed here may have already dropped out, but I am keeping track of all the major entrances to the race.

And this is how I will analyze these candidates:

  • The Full Name of the Candidate
  • Their Party Affiliation
  • The Date They Entered the 2020 Presidential Race
  • Their Current Job/Political Office
  • A Little Summary of Their History
  • Their Signature Issue(s)
  • Links to Any Town Halls They Have Participated In
  • Any Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews

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Michael Bennet

Michael Bennet Official Photo

Full Name: Michael Bennet

Age: 54 (Born November 28, 1964)

Party Affiliation: Democratic Party

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: May 2, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: United States Senator (Colorado)

A Little Summary of His History: Michael Bennet first entered the United States Senate in January 2009, when he was chosen by then-Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter to replace Ken Salazar, who vacated his seat to join the Obama Administration as Secretary of the Interior. Since then, Bennet won election for that seat twice, in 2010 and 2016. One of Bennet’s standout moments came not from his votes but from his 2018 speech calling out Ted Cruz’s hypocrisy in terms of disaster funding.

Signature Issue(s): Bennet focuses mostly on finance, foreign policy, and good governance. He seems fairly “moderate” (based on our colloquial use of the term), siding more with the centrists in the Democratic Party. For one thing, he voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (often referred to as the “Affordable Care Act,” the ACA, or “Obamacare”) and would rather reserve it then move to a Medicare for All system. He was also one of a few Democrats to vote for the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In: This will be added later.

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Michael Bennet’s Wikipedia Page

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Joe Biden

Biden 2013

Full Name: Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.

Age: 76 (Born November 20, 1942)

Party Affiliation: Diet Republican Democratic

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: April 25, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: Out of office/former vice president

A Little Summary of Their History: Joe Biden first entered the public arena in 1969, when he ran for a seat on the New Castle County Council. He ran as a Democrat and won the seat in the county’s 4th district. He held that seat from 1970 to 1972, when he ran and won a seat in the United States Senate. Biden would be re-elected six times, stepping down in 2009 to serve as President Barack Obama’s vice president.

As vice president, Biden didn’t make many headlines beyond destroying Paul Ryan in a vice-presidential debate and forcing the president’s hand on the issue of gay marriage. Weeks before Obama signaled that he supported gay marriage, Biden unequivocally stated that he supported it.

Nowadays, Biden enjoys his status as the Democratic front-runner, but his run is not without controversy. For one thing, Biden is being called out for inappropriately touching women and children. Also, his record as a U.S. senator and his past statements on race and economics are being viewed with extra scrutiny. Additionally, many millennials are turned off by Biden given his role in making tougher bankruptcy laws and his statement that he had “no empathy” for younger people struggling with debt.

Signature Issue(s): Biden himself has not signaled a bellwether issue for himself, but given his recent statements and track record, economics may be his main issue.

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In: This will be added later.

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Joe Biden’s Record On Racial Integration Is Indefensible | Current Affairs (April 11, 2018)

Joe Biden: ‘Paul Ryan Was Correct’ When He Tried to Cut Social Security and Medicare | Grit Post (January 2, 2019)

Joe Biden’s Wikipedia Page

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Cory Booker

Cory Booker, official portrait, 114th Congress

Full Name: Cory Anthony Booker

Age: 50 (Born April 27, 1969)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: February 1, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: United States Senator (New Jersey)

A Little Summary of His History: Once considered a choice for Hillary Clinton’s vice president in 2016 (he was a surrogate of hers), Cory Booker is now running to become president. In 2009, he was offered a leadership role for the New White House Office of Urban affairs, but he first made a name for himself as the mayor of Newark, New Jersey. Booker became somewhat of a celebrity as mayor through performing some heroic and kind acts that gained attention, but his overall record as a mayor was mixed, at best. Among the things cited against Booker was his role in trying to reform public schools in his cities as part of an effort that included Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and then-NJ Gov. Chris Christie.

Booker entered the U.S. Senate via a special election in 2013 following the death of Frank Lautenberg. Booker won re-election in 2014. Booker has established a voting record in the Senate that is described as the “third-most liberal,” which includes voting for reproduction rights, affirmative action, and for criminal justice reform.

Signature Issue(s): When one can look past Booker’s celebrity status, it seems that his leading issues are affirmative action and criminal justice reform. For example, he and Kamala Harris co-sponsored a bill to outlaw lynching, which was passed in 2018. A little-known fact is that Booker has consistently voted for animal rights, as well.

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In: TBD

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

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Steve Bullock

Montana Governor Steve Bullock (28963844060) (cropped) (cropped)

Full Name: Stephen Clark Bullock

Age: 53 (April 11, 1966)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: May 14, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: Governor of Montana

A Little Summary of His History: Steve Bullock first worked in Montana state government in 1997, when he became executive assistant attorney general under then-Attorney General Joe Mazurek. Bullock first ran for Attorney General in 2000, but he lost in the Democratic primary to Mike McGrath. Bullock won election in 2008 and he first gained national attention when his office challenged the Citizens United decision on the grounds that his state had banned corporate campaign donations for 100 years (he was overruled by the Supreme Court of the United States).

Bullock first became governor in 2013 after winning election the previous November. He won re-election in 2016 despite losses of Democratic seats in state government and Trump carrying the state.

Signature Issue(s): Bullock’s main issue might be limiting the presence of “dark money” (money that is anonymously given by large donors, including corporations) in elections. He also supports labor unions and worked to expanded Medicaid and education funding in his state.

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In: TBD

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Steve Bullock’s Wikipedia Page

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Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg by Gage Skidmore

Full Name: Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg

Age: 37 (Born January 19, 1982)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: April 14, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: Mayor of South Bend, Indiana

A Little Summary of His History: Pete Buttigieg first gained public attention when he threw his hat into the 2017 Democratic National Committee Chair race, which I covered at the time. Buttigieg dropped out of the race on the day of the vote, since it was always a two-person race between Keith Ellison and the eventual winner, Tom Perez.

Nowadays, Buttigieg admirers are touting his accomplishments such as him becoming second-youngest Mayor of South Bend, IN history and serving in the U.S. military, but his career started before he graduated college. While in college, Buttigieg was an investigative intern at WMAQ-TV, the NBC news affiliate for Chicago. From 2004 to 2005, Buttigieg was a conference director for former Secretary of Defense William Cohen’s strategic consulting firm, The Cohen Group.

Buttigieg also worked on numerous political campaigns. The first was Jill Long Thompson’s unsuccessful big for Congress. He also served as an advisor on Long Thompson’s unsuccessful run for governor. He worked on policy for a few months in John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. In 2007, he volunteered for Barack Obama’s successful presidential campaign.

Buttigieg was inspired to join the U.S. military while working on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Buttigieg became and ensign in the Navy Reserve in 2009 and he trained to become a naval intelligence officer. He was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months in 2014. During his deployment, Buttigieg worked as an armed driver as part of a unit whose purpose was to identify terrorist finance networks and disrupt them.

Buttigieg became the Mayor of South Bend after winning election in November 2011. He was 29 years old when he took office. He was re-elected in 2015.

Signature Issue(s): Buttigieg doesn’t appear to have a signature issue and he is noncommittal on most issues. He has said that policy isn’t that important, but he has spoken out in favor of marriage equality.

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In:

CNN Town Hall for Pete Buttigieg (March 10, 2019)

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

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Julian Castro

Julián Castro's Official HUD Portrait

Full Name: Julián Castro

Age: 44 (Born September 16, 1974)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: January 12, 2019.

Current Job/Political Office: N/A

A Little Summary of His History: Although Julián Castro is best known for being the twin brother of Congressman Joaquin Castro, Julian has his own political credentials. Julian Castro served in the San Antonio (TX) City Council from 2001 to 2005. He also won election as mayor on his second try in 2009 and he served in that position until July 2014. Castro resigned as San Antonio Mayor so he could serve as President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Urban Housing and Development, a position Castro held until January 2017.

Signature Issue(s): No one issue stands out except for Julián Castro’s positions on immigration. He supports a pathway for citizenship for most undocumented immigrants in the United States, he opposes Trump’s border wall proposal, and thinks that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency needs to be reformed.

Other than his positions on immigration, Julián Castro holds many standard Democratic and left positions. His position on balanced budgets is in line with much of the Democratic establishment.

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In: Will be updated later.

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Julian Castro’s Wikipedia Page

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Bill de Blasio

Bill de Blasio January 2019

Full Name: Bill de Blasio (Born Warren Wilhelm, Jr.)

Age: 58 (Born May 8, 1961)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: May 16, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: Mayor of New York City

A Little Summary of His History: Bill de Blasio first entered NYC politics in 1989, when he worked on David Dinkins’ mayoral campaign. After that campaign, de Blasio worked as an aide in City Hall.

In 1994, de Blasio served as U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel’s campaign manager. De Blasio served as Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager for her successful campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2000. (Three years prior, de Blasio had served as the regional director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for New York and New Jersey under President Bill Clinton.)

De Blasio successfully won election in the New York City Council’s 39th District in 2001. He served on the city council until 2009, when he ran and won election for the position of New York City Public Advocate. This was a position he held until 2013.

De Blasio was first elected as New York City’s mayor in 2014. He won re-election four years later. His tenure as mayor has been marred by controversy, mostly in connection to his relations to the NYPD.

Signature Issue(s): The main issues connected with de Blasio are pre-K education, police reform, and income inequality.

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In: TBD

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Bill de Blasio’s Wikipedia Page

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John Delaney

John Delaney 113th Congress official photo

Full Name: John Kevin Delaney

Age: 56 (Born April 16, 1963)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: July 28, 2017

Current Job/Political Office: Businessman, Former U.S. Representative (Maryland)

A Little Summary of His History: Before joining Congress, John Delaney founded two companies that were traded on the New York Stock Exchange then later absorbed by other companies. He co-founded Health Care Financial Partners in 1993 and CapitalSource in 2000.

In 2012, Delaney decided to run for Congress in Maryland’s redrawn 6th District since it was shifting from a heavily Republican district to a Democratic-leaning one. He won election that year and was re-elected three times.

In July 2017, John Delaney became the first Democrat to through his hat into the 2020 presidential race. He chose not to run for re-election as a congressman in 2018 so he could focus his attention on running for president.

Signature Issue(s): Since he became a congressman, John Delaney’s signature issue was about ending partisan gerrymandering. During each session of Congress he was a part of, Delaney introduced legislation to do just that. In 2017, he introduced the Open Our Democracy Act.

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In:

CNN Town Hall for John Delaney (March 10, 2019)

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

John Delaney’s Wikipedia Page
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Tulsi Gabbard

Tulsi Gabbard, official portrait, 113th Congress
Full Name: Tulsi Gabbard

Age: 38 (Born April 12, 1981)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date She Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: January 11, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: United States Representative (Hawaii’s 2nd District)

A Little Summary of Her History: Tulsi Gabbard made waves in 2015 when she stepped down as Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee shortly before she endorsed Bernie Sanders and in 2017. She earned more ire from the political and media establishment when she visited Syria and came back with a message against intervention there.

Before winning a seat in the United States House of Representatives, Tulsi Gabbard served as a Hawaii State Representatives, representing the state’s 42nd House District from 2002-2004. She also signed up for the Hawaii Army National Guard in 2003, where she rose to the rank of Major. (She served a 12-month tour in Iraq from 2004-2005 with the 29th Support Battalion medical company and is still an active member of the National Guard.)

Signature Issue(s): While Tulsi Gabbard aligns with most progressives on key issues like Medicare for All and a $15 minimum wage, her main issue is a stance against “regime-change wars.” Gabbard is a stanch anti-interventionist in most cases, but she supports efforts to go after terrorists and recognizes that the United States needs to stop arming terrorists.

Another issue where Gabbard is leading on is the move against fossil fuels. During the last session of Congress, she introduced the Off Fossil Fuels Act, which set a 2035 target for transitioning the United States to renewable energy.

In addition, Gabbard introduced the Securing American Elections Act, which would require the U.S. to move to paper ballots, among other things.

Town Halls and Debates She Has Participated In:

CNN Town Hall for Tulsi Gabbard (March 10, 2019)

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Tulsi Gabbard’s Wikipedia Page

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Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand, official portrait, 112th Congress

Full Name: Kirsten Elizabeth Gillibrand (née Rutnik)

Age: 52 (Born December 9, 1966)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date She Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: March 17, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: U.S. Senator (New York)

A Little Summary of Her History: Kirsten Gillibrand entered politics as part of Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senatorial campaign. (Gillibrand had previously served as counsel to Andrew Cuomo’s HUD under Bill Clinton.)

Gillibrand first ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006, winning election against three-term Republican incumbent John E. Sweeney. In the House, Gillibrand joined the Blue Dog Coalition and voted conservatively.

Gillibrand won election in 2008 but was tapped by then-New York Governor David Paterson to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate. (Clinton had been tapped as President-Elect Barack Obama’s Secretary of State.) Gillibrand won the special election in 2010 and re-election in 2016.

Signature Issue(s): Gillibrand has shown that she cares about transparency, given that she released a schedule showing who she met with as a congresswoman since she obtained public office. She also supported Medicare for All as early as 2006. Another issue that is closely tied to Gillibrand is the paid family leave.

Town Halls and Debates She Has Participated In: Will add later.

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Kirsten Gillibrand’s Wikipedia Page

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Mike Gravel

Mike Gravel

Full Name: Maurice Robert “Mike” Gravel

Age: 89 (May 13, 1930)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: March 19, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: N/A

A Little Summary of His History: Mike Gravel is a politician who hasn’t been in power since 1981. First elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in 1963, he served as the Alaska House Speaker until 1967 (he decided not to run for re-election but to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1966). Gravel then ran for the U.S. Senate in 1968 and won. He served in the Senate until 1981; he had been defeated in the 1980 Democratic primary by Clark Gruening, who eventually lost to Republican Frank Murkowski in the general election.

Gravel first gained national attention when he decided to read portions of the Pentagon Papers on the Senate floor in 1971. He was blocked from reading the papers in front of the whole body, so he convened a session of the Buildings and Grounds subcommittee and read the papers then. On June 29, 1971, Gravel filibustered against the draft and read the papers until he was physically unable to at 1:00 am in the morning.

Gravel previously ran for president in 2008 as a longshot candidate but he used the time he was given to criticize other Democratic candidates and U.S. imperialism. During his run, he also made campaign videos entitled “Rock” and “Fire,” which garnered him attention. He made a sequel to “Rock” this year.

Signature Issue(s): Gravel’s top issues include anti-imperialism, direct democracy, and universal health care.

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In: TBD

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Mike Gravel’s Wikipedia Page

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Kamala Harris

Senator Harris official senate portrait
Full Name: Kamala Devi Harris

Age: 54 (Born October 20, 1964)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date She Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: January 21, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: United States Senator (California, Class III)

A Little Summary of Her History: Kamala Harris was a deputy district attorney in Alameda County, California from 1990-1998. In 2000, joined the office of San Francisco City Attorney Louise Renne and served as the chief of the Community and Neighborhood Division.

In 2003, Harris won election as District Attorney of the City and County of San Francisco. She won re-election in 2007 after running unopposed.

Harris won election as California’s Attorney General in 2010. She was re-elected in 2014.

In 2016, Harris won election as California’s Class III U.S. Senator, beating fellow Democrat Linda Sanchez in the general election (due to California’s jungle primary).

Signature Issue(s): There isn’t one issue that Kamala Harris promotes more than others, but she is closely connected to the issue of law enforcement given that much of her career was spent in law enforcement. Many progressives consider her positions on law and punishment to be spotty, at best, given her policies on truancy, conviction rates, and her refusal to go after OneWest bank for its real estate abuses.

Other than that, Harris has stated that she holds many standard progressive and Democratic positions. Harris’s stated progressive positions include a promise not to receive corporate donations and a support for a Medicare-for-All type system. Like most Democrats and progressives, Harris is pro-choice and she opposes the death penalty.

Town Halls She Has Participated In:

CNN Town Hall with Sen Kamala Harris (January 28, 2019)

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Kamala Harris’s Wikipedia Page
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John Hickenlooper

John Hickenlooper by Gage Skidmore

Full Name: John Wright Hickenlooper, Jr.

Age: 67 (Born February 7, 1952)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: March 4, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: Former governor of Colorado

A Little Summary of His History: John Hickenlooper was introduced to the political world through his dealings as a small business owner. He first ran to become Denver, CO mayor in 2002 and he won. Her served in that position from 2003-2011, when he was inaugurated as Colorado governor. He left the governor’s office in 2019.

During his tenures as mayor and governor, Hickenlooper established himself as a “purple” Democrat. He was business-friendly, supported the gas and energy industry, and focused on balancing budgets.

This year, Hickenlooper addressed the California Democratic Convention and he was greeted to a chorus of boos when he said that socialism was not the answer:

Signature Issue(s): Based on his record in Colorado, it seems that Hickenlooper’s top issues are balancing budgets, supporting businesses (particularly those in the gas and energy industry), and creating jobs. He opposes Medicare for All and supports hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In: TBD

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

John Hickenlooper’s Wikipedia Page

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Jay Inslee

Jay Inslee official portrait

Full Name: Jay Robert Inslee

Age: 68 (Born February 9, 1951)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: March 1, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: Governor of Washington

A Little Summary of His History: Jay Inslee has served in statewide and national offices in some capacity since 1989. He first served in the Washington state House of Representatives from 1989-1993. He was then elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he served from 1993-1995. After losing a gubernatorial election in 1996, he served in the Bill Clinton administration as a regional director of the Department of Health of Human Services.

Inslee ran for the U.S. House of Representatives again in 1998. He won election and stayed in the House until 2012, when he ran for governor in Washington again. This time, he won, and he was re-elected in 2016.

Signature Issue(s): Jay Inslee has cited combatting climate change as his primary reason for running for president. Climate change had been his main issue while he served in Congress.

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In: TBD

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Jay Inslee’s Wikipedia Page

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Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar, official portrait, 113th Congress

Full Name: Amy Jean Klobuchar

Age: 59 (Born May 25, 2019)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date She Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: February 10, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: U.S. Senator (Minnesota)

A Little Summary of Her History: Before running for office, Amy Klobuchar served as a corporate lawyer and briefly worked as a prosecutor. She first entered into politics when she appeared before the Minnesota State Legislature to advocate for a bill to guarantee new mothers 48-hour stays in hospitals after giving birth. The bill was passed, and President Bill Clinton eventually made this federal law.

Klobuchar first ran for office in 1994 but dropped out of the Hennepin County Attorney race when the incumbent, Michael Freeman, reentered the race. She ran again in 1998 and was elected Hennepin County attorney. She was re-elected in 2002 after running unopposed.

Klobuchar ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006 and won election. She has been re-elected twice, winning by 24 points in 2018.

Although Klobuchar enjoys high approval ratings in her state, she has been developing a reputation as a bad boss. In 2018, Politico reported that she had the highest staff turnover rate in the U.S. Senate. This year, it was reported that Klobuchar was emotionally abusive towards her staff.

Signature Issue(s): Words

Town Halls She Has Participated In: Words

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Amy Klobuchar’s Wikipedia Page

The ‘Worst Bosses’ in Congress? | Politico (March 21, 2018)

Staffers, Documents Show Amy Klobuchar’s Wrath Toward Her Aides | Buzzfeed News (February 8, 2019)

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Wayne Messam

Mayor Messam

Full Name: Wayne Martin Messam

Age: 45 (Born June 7, 1974)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: March 28, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: Mayor of Miramar, Florida

A Little Summary of His History: Although Wayne Messam is a member of the Democratic Party, he had held nonpartisan positions in the state of Florida. In 2011, he ran for and won the District 4 seat on the Miramar City Commission. In 2015, he ran and won for the mayoral seat in Miramar. He was re-elected on March 12, 2019.

Signature Issue(s): More information is needed.

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In: Words

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Messam’s Wikipedia Page

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Seth Moulton

Seth Moulton

Full Name: Seth Wilbur Moulton

Age: 40 (Born October 24, 1978)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: Words

Current Job/Political Office: U.S. Representative (Massachusetts)

A Little Summary of His History: After graduating from Harvard University, Seth Moulton served in the United States Marine Corps, serving four tours of duty in Iraq. During his first tour in Iraq, Moulton took part in the 2003 Battle of Nasiriyah, during which he aided a Marine who had been wounded by another; for this, Moulton received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for valor. Moulton also took part in the 2004 Battle of Najaf against the militia of Muqtada al-Sadr; Moulton received the Bronze Star Medal for his performance in this battle.

After working in the private sector from 2008-2013, Moulton decided to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in Massachusetts’ 6th Congressional District. He won in 2014, ran unopposed in 2016, and was he was easily re-elected in 2018.

Signature Issue(s): Since Seth Moulton isn’t that well-known nationally, no one issue stands out with the exception of gun control. Moulton has gone on record as saying that semi-automatic “assault weapons” should be banned for civilian use. Besides that, Moulton describes himself as progressive, but has made it clear that he is not a socialist and he belongs to the House New Democrat Coalition, which is a group of moderate Democrats who support business and balanced budgets.

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In: TBD

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Seth Moulton’s Wikipedia Page

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Beto O’Rourke

Beto O'Rourke, Official portrait, 113th Congress

Full Name: Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke

Age: 46 (Born September 26, 1972)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: Words

Current Job/Political Office: Former U.S. Representative (Texas)

A Little Summary of His History: Beto O’Rourke first held elected office in El Paso, Texas’ City Council from 2005 to 2011. He then ran for the United States House of Representatives in 2012 and won election. He was re-elected twice but vacated he seat so he could run for the United States Senate against Ted Cruz. That run was unsuccessful, but that race significantly raised O’Rourke’s profile.

Signature Issue(s): During his Senate run, O’Rourke’s top issues appeared to be campaign finance reform and congressional term limits. However, it was later revealed that O’Rourke had taken money from the oil industry after he had taken a pledge not to receive such donations.

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In: TBD

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Beto O’Rourke’s Wikipedia Page

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Richard Ojeda

MAJ Richard Ojeda

Full Name: Richard Neece Ojeda II

Age: 48 (Born September 25, 1970)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: November 12, 2018

Current Job/Political Office: None. Ojeda was a West Virginia State Senator until he stepped down in January 2019.

A Little Summary of His History: Before entering politics, Richard Ojeda joined the United States Army, in which he was serve for 24 years. He rose to the rank of Major and he earned two Bronze Stars.

Ojeda first ran for Congress in 2014, but he lost in the Democratic primary for West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District to the then-incumbent Nick Rahall. He eventually won a set in the West Virginia State Senate in 2016 and he represented the state’s 7th Senatorial District.

Ojeda won again for Congress again in 2018, but he lost by 12 points to Republican Carol Miller in the race for West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District.

Ojeda’s 2018 run was exceptionally difficult, even though he improved on Democrats’ performance in his district by 32 points. One reason people were skeptical of Ojeda was his voting record during presidential elections.

Even though Ojeda is a Democrat, he said that he had never voted for a Democrat for president. (His reasoning was that Republican presidents were more likely to approve budgets the recognized the needs of soldiers on the ground.) Ojeda also admitted that he voted for Trump in 2016, but later conceded that Trump hadn’t done anything to help West Virginians since entering the White House.

Signature Issue(s): During his time in the WV Senate, Ojeda had shown his support for Medicare for All, the legalization of marijuana, teachers, and anti-lobbyism. Ojeda sponsored the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice on April 19, 2017. Shortly before the teachers’ strike in the state, Ojeda pushed for legislation to improve the benefits and pay of teachers, warning that the failure to do so would lead to strikes, which he supported.

Town Halls He Has Participated In: N/A

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Richard Ojeda’s Wikipedia Page

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Tim Ryan

Rep. Tim Ryan Congressional Head Shot 2010

Full Name: Timothy John Ryan

Age: 45 (Born July 16, 1973)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: April 4, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: U.S. Representative (Ohio)

A Little Summary of His History: Right out of college, Tim Ryan worked on the staff of Ohio Congressman Jim Traficant. Ryan would later run for Traficant’s seat in Ohio’s 17th Congressional District when the latter was convicted. Ryan has won election ever since, but his district was redrawn and renumbered as the 13th Congressional District in 2012.

In 2017, Ryan emerged as one of a handful of Democrats who were challenging Nancy Pelosi’s leadership in the House. He was also a part of a group angling to get Steny Hoyer to take over the Democratic leadership in the House in late 2018 and early 2019.

Signature Issue(s): It is unclear.

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In: TBD

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Tim Ryan’s Wikipedia Page

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Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

Full Name: Bernard Sanders

Age: 77 (Born September 8, 1941)

Party Affiliation: Democratic (for the Presidential Race)

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: February 19, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: U.S. Senator (Vermont)

A Little Summary of His History: Bernie Sanders, the usually independent Senator for Vermont, began his political career in decades before he ever won office. From the mid-1960s to 1977, Sanders was part of the Liberty Union Party in Vermont. He ran a series of failed campaigns for state senate and governor before finally winning the mayoral race in Burlington in 1980.

After serving as mayor of Burlington from 1981-1988, Sanders unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. House of Representatives. He eventually won election to the House in 1990 after making a deal with Democrats and won re-election in the House until he successfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006. In both houses of Congress, Sanders has caucused with the Democrats.

Sanders ran for president in 2016 in an effort to pull the Democratic field to the left on numerous issues, including health care and the minimum wage. Although he wasn’t exactly running to win, Sanders closed much of a 30-plus-point gap with the eventual Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. Since that race, Sanders has gained nationwide (and worldwide) popularity with lefties and some conservatives.

Signature Issue(s): Sanders is closely aligned with a progressive agenda, but his signature issues are Medicare for All (Single Payer), a $15 minimum wage, free college, and federal jobs guarantee. One could argue that campaign finance reform is one of his issues given that he takes no corporate PAC money and raises most of his campaign funds via small donations.

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In:

  • Fox News: Town Hall with Bernie Sanders | YouTube (April 15, 2019)

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

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Joe Sestak

Congressman Sestak Official Congressional headshot

Full Name: Joseph Ambrose Sestak, Jr.

Age: 67 (Born December 12, 1951)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: June 22, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: Retired U.S. Navy Officer, Former U.S. Representative

A Little Summary of His History: Sestak graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1974 and was sent on various tours at sea. His naval career continued until 2005, when he retired to care for his ailing daughter; he was named a two-star admiral.

From November 1994 to March 1997, he served in the Bill Clinton administration as the Director for Defense Policy for the White House’s National Security Council. His Clinton connection led to his endorsement and general support for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential candidacy.

Sestak ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District during the 2016 midterm elections. The district was considered heavily Republican and he won by 13 points despite receiving virtually no help from the Democratic Congressional Committee. He was re-elected in 2008 by a 20-point margin.

In 2010, Sestak decided to run for the U.S. Senate. He defeated Arlen Specter in the Democratic Party, but Sestak lost to Pat Toomey in the general. Sestak attempted to run again in 2016, but he faced heavy opposition by the Democratic establishment in the primaries. Katie McGinty eventually won the Democratic nomination, only to lose to Toomey in the general election.

During his tenure in the House, Sestak was voted the most productive freshman lawmaker. Nineteen of the bills he had passed during his first term were passed in the House.

Sestak also heavily advocated for extending medical benefits to more Americans, based on the type of care his daughter, Alexandria, received during her childhood. Sestak’s daughter suffered from a malignant brain tumor in her childhood and adolescence, which she survived.

In addition, Sestak was the first congressional candidate to use social media. His campaign was the first to create a Facebook fan page and he was among the first lawmakers to use an official Twitter account.

Signature Issue(s): Health care might be Sestak’s top issue, but he is progressive on most issues.

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In: TBD

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Joe Sestak’s Wikipedia Page

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Eric Swalwell

Eric Swalwell 114th official photo

Full Name: Eric Michael Swalwell, Jr.

Age: 38 (Born November 16, 1980)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: April 8, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: U.S. Representative

A Little Summary of His History: Before running for Congress, Eric Swalwell was already cutting his political chops in various ways. While a student at the University of Maryland School of Law, he interned for U.S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher, who was representing California’s 10th Congressional District. Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Swalwell used his position in his university’s Student Government Association to create a scholarship program from students who had lost parents in those attacks.

From 2006 to 2011, Swalwell held numerous local positions in California, including a job as deputy district attorney and a set on the Dublin City Council.

In September 2011, Swalwell announced his intention to run for Congress in California’s 15th Congressional District. He defeated 20-term incumbent Pete Stark in the general election, and this was made possible by California’s jungle primary, which came into effect because of 2010’s Proposition 14. Swalwell easily won re-election ever since.

Signature Issue(s): Swalwell doesn’t put much emphasis on one issue, but he appears to be fairly progressive on numerous issues. For one thing, he would like to repeal the No Child Left Behind Act and increase funding for education. He wants to cut the defense budget. He also calls for a stimulus to create jobs in the renewable energy sector.

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In: TBD

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Eric Swalwell’s Wikipedia Page

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Donald Trump

Donald Trump official portrait

Full Name: Donald John Trump

Age: 73 (Born June 14, 1946)

Party Affiliation: Republican

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: He began fundraising on January 20, 2017 but officially kicked off his re-election campaign on June 19, 2019.

Current Job/Political Office: President of the United States

A Little Summary of His History: Donald Trump is a relative political novice, only having run for president twice (in 2000 and 2016). In 2016, he blew past the crowded political field (with help from the media) and managed to eke out an Electoral College victory against Hillary Clinton in the General Election.

Before running for office, Trump admitted that he used to donate to various politicians in hopes that they would represent their interests. He had threatened to run for president for years after being thoroughly embarrassed by Barack Obama at a White House Correspondents’ Dinner following Trump’s adoption of birtherism.

Signature Issue(s): Seriously, Trump has no real ideology, but he excels at leveraging racism and xenophobia to his advantage. Many of the politics and policies he has supported or taken advantage of are callous and play into the hands of bigoted Americans. (Truth hurts.)

Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In: TBD

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Donald Trump’s Wikipedia Page

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Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren, official portrait, 114th Congress

Full Name: Elizabeth Ann Warren (Née Herring)

Age: 70 (Born June 22, 1949)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date She Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: February 9, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: U.S. Senator (Massachusetts)

A Little Summary of Her History: Before running for Congress in 2012, Elizabeth Warren had a lengthy history teaching law and economics at various universities, beginning in the late 1970s. By the late 1990s, she had written for numerous publications and became a highly cited source.

During her teaching career, Warren had a political awakening. Although she had been originally a Republican who believed in laisse faire economics, she changed her views and political affiliation after participating in a study about bankruptcy and realizing that the Republican party represented corporations over individuals.

Starting in 2008, Warren oversaw the implementation of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, and the related Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). She also pushed for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created as part of Dodd-Frank and helped Americans recover over $12 billion in money from scams.

Warren first gained national attention when she gave a speech in Andover, MA while running for the U.S. Senate in 2012. The video of the speech, in which she pointed out how the wealthy benefitted from public infrastructure, went viral. She eventually won election and was re-elected in 2018.

Signature Issue(s): Elizabeth Warren has gained a reputation as an economic consumer advocate. This is by far her strongest issue, but she has disappointed progressives but expressing that she is a capitalist and being dismissive about socialism.

Town Halls and Debates She Has Participated In: TBD

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Elizabeth Warren’s Wikipedia Page

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Bill Weld

Bill Weld campaign portrait

Full Name: William Floyd Weld

Age: 73 (Born July 31, 1945)

Party Affiliation: Republican

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: April 15, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: Attorney, Businessman, Former Governor of Massachusetts

A Little Summary of His History: Bill Weld served as a counsel with the U.S. House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate impeachment inquiry. At the time, Hillary Clinton was one of his colleagues.

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed Weld as U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts and built a strong reputation fighting against corruption. During his tenure as a U.S. Attorney, Weld expanded a public correction investigation concerning Boston Mayor Kevin White; over 20 city employees were indicted, pleaded guilty, or were found guilty of a wide range of charges. Weld also went after some of the largest banks in New England based on charges of money laundering and other white-collar crimes. Overall, Weld got convictions on 109 out of 111 public corruption cases.

In 1986, Weld received a promotion from President Reagan to head the Criminal Division of the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. Weld resigned from the Justice Department in March 1988 in protest because of allegations against U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese. In July of that year, Weld and U.S. Deputy Attorney General Arnold Burns (who resigned with Weld) both testified in front of Congress and supported a potential prosecution of Meese.

In 1990, Weld won Massachusetts’ gubernatorial election. He was re-elected in 1994, but he stepped down in 1997 to accept an appointment as Bill Clinton’s Ambassador to Mexico. However, Sen. Jesse Helms effectively blocked Weld’s appointment.

Since then, Weld played a limited role in American politics, briefly running for governor of New York in 2005-2006. In 2016, he ran for the Libertarian Vice Presidential nomination, winning and server as Gary Johnson’s running mate.

Signature Issue(s): Bill Weld holds liberal views on gay marriage, abortion, and the legalization of marijuana. Other than that, many of his views, particularly on foreign relations and free trade, are aligned with many conservatives.

Related Town Halls and Debates He Has Participated In: N/A

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Weld Announces He’s Challenging Trump for 2020 Republican Nomination | Bloomberg (April 15, 2019)

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Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson - 33252886458 (cropped)

Full Name: Marianne Deborah Williamson

Age: 66 (July 8, 1952)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date She Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: January 29, 2019

Current Job/Political Office: Author, Lecturer, Activist

A Little Summary of Her History: Marianne Williamson’s career path began in 1979, after she read A Course on Miracles (1976) by Helen Schucman. By 1983, Williamson began regularly giving lectures based on the book’s curriculum. She eventually wrote 13 books based on what she learned.

He activism began in the early 1980s as the AIDS crisis came to the fore. She founded the Los Angeles and Manhattan Centers for Living, which provided non-medical, but emotional and moral support for those with HIV and AIDS. She later founded Project Angel Food to deliver healthy meals to AIDS patients. The foundation’s mission was later expanded include people who suffered from various illnesses.

Signature Issue(s): The strongest argument Williamson has made is her case for reparations for American Descendants of Slaves.

Town Halls and Debates She Has Participated In: TBD

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews:

Marianne Williamson’s Wikipedia Page

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Andrew Yang

Andrew Yang talking about urban entrepreneurship at Techonomy Conference 2015 in Detroit, MI (cropped)

Full Name: Andrew Yang

Age: 44 (Born January 13, 1975)

Party Affiliation: Democratic

The Date He Entered the 2020 Presidential Race: November 6, 2017

Current Job/Political Office: Yang is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and the founder of Venture for America.

A Little Summary of Their History: Andrew Yang became a corporate attorney at Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York City shortly after graduation from Columbia Law School in 1999. In 2000, he left the firm to co-found Stargiving.com, a website for philanthropic fundraising by celebrities. The company folded in 2001. Yang later joined MMF Systems, Inc., a healthcare software startup.

Yang would work at MMF systems for four years before joining Manhattan Prep, a test preparation company. Yang became the CEO of Manhattan prep in 2006 and he resigned as the company’s president in 2012.

In 2011, Yang founded Venture for America, a fellowship program meant to take the best and brightest postsecondary school graduates and provide them with training and jobs with startups across the country, as opposed to concentrating entrepreneurs in larger cities. Yang served as CEO of VFA until March 2017.

Signature Issue(s): Andrew Yang has a complete list of issues, but his main one is a Universal Basic Income (UBI) proposal. Yang calls this monthly a “Freedom Dividend.” Under his plan, he would give all American adults 18 and over a $1,000 monthly stipend. However, he has indicated that he would talk away from other social benefits in order to provide this stipend.

Links to Any Town Halls They Have Participated In: Will be added later.

Links to Deeper Candidate Profiles, Articles, and Interviews: Will be added later.

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Here are all the Democratic candidates running for president in 2020 | CBS News

Which Democrats Are Running In 2020 — And Which Still Might | NPR

A Special Thanks to Wikipedia for all the images and links.

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Series Posts

The following posts will be renamed as I go along.

  • Introduction
  • Departures
  • Democratic Debates
  • Primaries
  • Party Conventions
  • Fall Presidential Debates
  • Relevant News Items
  • Election Day
  • Retrospective/The Last Word

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This section may include links to candidate profiles and extra posts about the 2020 elections.

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The Issue of Reparations is a Very Touchy Subject, but I Want to Address It

reparations, Black Americans, American Descendants of Slaves
In 2003, Dave Chappelle lampooned the issue of reparations for Black Americans. This is the only levity they’ll be in this post. The image was taken from a a screenshot (video).

The issue of reparations is being discussed among Democratic 2020 presidential candidates. Of all the candidates, Bernie Sanders has been singled out; he is being heavily criticized because he doesn’t support reparations. Is that fair? On some level, it isn’t.

That said, I wanted to make this post to express my views on the subject (and what I think about Sanders’ stance on it, among others). This post might be a little sloppy, but that’s because I am still learning about this topic and figuring out to express my views on the topic. That said, I know that we must have a general understanding of what is being asked and how the issue originated.

Continue reading “The Issue of Reparations is a Very Touchy Subject, but I Want to Address It”

The 2020 Presidential Race Has Already Started, but There’s a Lot to Unpack

The 2020 presidential race started late in 2018, so I’d thought I’d start keeping track of all of the notable entrants who declared and will declare before I get overwhelmed. I was thinking about making a series for 2019, but since this is an off-year, I might just make one post after Election Day to make note of the partisan makeup in state legislatures and governorships. I might make other posts if any other important election news occurs this year, but they won’t be part of a series.

Yes, this post is going to be the start of yet another series, but if I have learned anything from the previous election series, the rollout will be much smoother. It’s still a big undertaking, but hopefully, I will make things easier on myself — and the will be appreciated.

How will I go about this? Unlike the last series, I know how I will break down the primary races and other relevant information, so I have a clear plan for that. However, since the 2020 elections will include the presidential races, there will be far more ground to cover. Thus, it’s best to start early.

To that end, this post will contain a basic outline/overview of what I want to do with this series.

Continue reading “The 2020 Presidential Race Has Already Started, but There’s a Lot to Unpack”

News Roundup Special: How the Last Government Shutdown Was Defeated

news roundup, news roundup special, government shutdown, Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, government workers, Congress
On December 11, 2018, Donald Trump (center right) met with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer (right) in the Oval Office to try to head off a government shutdown. Mike Pence (center left) was present, by he added nothing to the discussion. This image was taken via screenshot (video).

Will there be another government shutdown? Likely not, given how the latest shutdown just ended last month.

Congress had avoided a government shutdown for 10 months after the last one in early 2018, but after Democrats took over the House following the midterm elections, Trump ramped up his threats to shut down the government if he didn’t get money for his border wall. He made good on those threats in late December 2018 and dragged things out for 35 days, which was the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

Tonight, Donald Trump will give his second State of the Union speech. This was nearly cancelled because to the shutdown. What will Trump talk about? My guess is he will mention the wall, but in doing so he will remind people of his greatest defeat as president.

On that note, I want to make this post as a reminder of what happened over the five weeks of the shutdown. I would also like to talk about the effects of it, who really ended it, and how we can avoid more shutdowns in the future.


Table of Contents

  • What Unfolded During This Shutdown? (Timeline)
  • Who Deserves the Credit for Ending the Shutdown?
  • How Can We Avoid Shutdowns in the Future?
  • Are You Watching the State of the Union Address?
Continue reading “News Roundup Special: How the Last Government Shutdown Was Defeated”

Let’s Talk About Identity Politics

identity politics, Combahee River Collective, Civil Rights Movement, black feminists, progressives

I was arguing about identity politics a few days ago because it became clear that many people, including lefties, are averse to the topic. I argued my point, but I don’t feel that I convinced anyone to take a deeper look into what Identity politics is.

A couple of days later, I also saw a video made by the much-maligned “Factual Feminist,” Christine Hoff Sommers:

I felt that the video’s arguments were so off-base that I responded to Hoff-Sommers’ tweet with a thread of my own (via my personal Twitter account).

The arguments surrounding identity politics bother me because they are fallacious. I feel that identity politics movement arose with good intentions and that there is a place for it, but others don’t want to see it that way. Hence, why I’m making this post. Not everyone who comes across this post wants to look at identity politics from a different angle, but I will make my case anyway.

Identity politics is a subject that I’m still trying to grapple with. The first time I heard of it was in 2016 and I leaned toward the negative view of it.

Why was I wrong about identity politics? I was wrong because, for one thing, I failed to do my own research about the topic. (I am still learning to withhold judgment for a lot of things until I can do my own research because often, people who make certain claims have an agenda. That’s true of this topic.)

What did I find? There’s too much to parse right now, but let’s begin with some basic information.

Continue reading “Let’s Talk About Identity Politics”

Open Letter to Barack Obama: Why Didn’t You Protect the Vote?

Barack Obama, open letter, protect the vote

Dear Barack Obama,

I know that you will likely never read this, but I have a few questions for you.


Why I Am Writing This Letter

I was inspired to write this letter in large part because of your words about voting since 2016, namely the comments you made in October of this year. For instance, I watched the video you made for ATTN: in which you shot down 7 mostly-valid reasons for people choosing not to vote.

Josh Fox also inspired me to write this letter. Shortly after he saw your ATTN: video, he asked you a question about your tenure as president:

This gave me an idea. I also wanted to ask you a series of questions, but indirectly, and I wanted to stay on topic and talk about the electoral process. However, I realized that would require a series of tweets and I had far more to say, hence this letter.

Continue reading “Open Letter to Barack Obama: Why Didn’t You Protect the Vote?”

When Are People Going to Learn? Voter-Shaming Does Not Work.

voter-shaming, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Farron Cousins, Democrats, 2018 midterms, absolving the powerful, voting
Unfortunately, former President Barack Obama has engaged in some voter-shaming. That’s why I felt compelled to say that I disagree with his line of attack. I also want to point out that voter-shaming absolves the powerful.

I believe that voter-shaming is a futile exercise and you cannot change my mind.

The 2018 midterms are largely over, but not all races have been decided yet. For example, there is at a runoff in Mississippi today for the last undecided U.S. Senate seat. In the meantime, I’m making a few extra posts this year about voting and this is the second.

If you’ve been following this blog for over a year or looked through my archives, you may have read the posts I made about the general disdain Americans Democrats have for non-voters and third-party voters. In general, Democrats usually blame non-voters and third-party voters for their losses because it is assumed that people from both groups would otherwise for Democrats. Third parties are mocked as being spoilers, jokers, and dreamers. Non-voters are also told that they have no right to complain if they don’t vote.

As I’ve said before, I generally disagree with these assessments, although something must be said about first-past-the-post voting. In such a system, it would behoove one party (usually the Democrats) to only have two choices on the ballot. However, I believe that people should be able to vote the way they want without being guilted.

That said, this post is generally pointed at things said by some people aligned with Democrats (at least in this election, for one person): former President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Farron Cousins. The former president supported a plethora of Democrats running in this year’s midterms. Oprah once supported the former (in 2008) and Stacey Abrams (this year). Cousins prefers Democrats, but he went off the handle (again) and went after other lefties because of two results in his state (Florida).

Continue reading “When Are People Going to Learn? Voter-Shaming Does Not Work.”

If You Want to Fix the American Electoral System, Here Are 15+ Suggestions

American electoral system, electoral reform, 15 suggestions, improvements, voting rights, Voting Rights Act, make voting easier

The American electoral system is broken, but it can be fixed and it’s up to us as citizens to put pressure on our local, state, and federal governments to make those changes. It can be done.

Of course, there are people in power who don’t want it to be fixed. This was highlighted in this year’s midterms — especially in Florida, Georgia, and Kansas. I will talk about these three states a little bit.

Since these midterm elections highlighted the problems with various states’ processes and what certain politicians who have done all they could to keep the system broken, I think now is as good a time as any to talk about possible solutions. Thus, I will share some things I’ve read about and some conclusions I’ve come to on my own.

Continue reading “If You Want to Fix the American Electoral System, Here Are 15+ Suggestions”

What Can Be Do About the Supreme Court?

Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, Republicans, Democrats, vote them all out
Joe Ravi [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons
Unfortunately, Brett Kavanaugh, an unstable judge, was just nominated to the Supreme Court. He was quickly sworn in and he has begun listening to his first cases on the bench.

I don’t have much time to go over the events leading up to this moment, but I would like to talk about the strategy moving forward. Here is one thing I can do:

(Yes, I wrote most of this post on Saturday, October 6.)

This is a relatively small task, and I know I need to do a lot more, but part of our strategy should be for us to recognize who the enemy is. If you didn’t realize that many of our enemies are in Congress, it’s about time you realized that now.

Continue reading “What Can Be Do About the Supreme Court?”

Judge-Mageddon: Are We Headed for a Constitutional Crisis?

constitutional crisis, Judge-Maggeddon, Supreme Court of the United States, Anthony Kennedy, Brett Kavanaugh, hard-right
The Supreme Court will be dragged further to the right in the foreseeable future. What matters is what we do next to mitigate much of the damage.

Before I restart my Trump series, I would like to tackle the issue of the Supreme Court. In late June 2018, Associate Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced that he would retire effect July 31, 2018. That meant that Trump would get another crack at putting another far-right, corporate justice on the court and set us back decades. This might also lead to a constitutional crisis.

Soon after Kennedy made his announcement, Trump announced that he was nominated Brett Kavanaugh as Kennedy’s replacement. Of course, this sparked more ire from the left because of Kavanaugh’s history and views of the executive branch.

In the months that followed, there were rumblings from Democrats to hold off the confirmation hearings until after the midterms — much like McConnell did with the confirmation of the late Antonin Scalia’s replacement during the 2016 presidential election — but everyone knew that wouldn’t happen. There was a drive from the Republicans to get the confirmations hearings for Kavanaugh done as soon as possible because they didn’t know whether or not they’d be wiped out by a blue wave or otherwise lose the Senate. Also, we know that McConnel is a POS and the Republicans in their current incarnation had no intention in obeying the rules they made up anyway.

Additionally, the Republicans have withheld over 90% of the documents connected to Kavanaugh’s past. It is perfectly clear that the Republicans had no intention of playing fair.

Basically, Kavanaugh’s confirmation is a foregone conclusion. The question is how will Kavanaugh affect the judicial branch and how can we adapt to this new reality?


About Kennedy

Anthony Kennedy was nominated to the court by Ronald Reagan and confirmed in 1988. While Kennedy was a conservative judge, he had served as a swing vote in certain cases, including King vs. Burwell (2012) and Obergefell vs. Hodges (2013). The decision for the former case protected the Affordable Care Act and the decision in the latter case recognized the legality of gay marriage. Unfortunately, Kennedy was also in the majority for cases like Shelby vs. Holder, which effectively gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and we can expect even more of that in the future.


About Brett Kavanaugh

constitutional crisis, Judge-Maggeddon, Supreme Court of the United States, Anthony Kennedy, Brett Kavanaugh, hard-right, Donald Trump
On July 12, 2018, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley met with Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. By Office of Senator Chuck Grassley [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Brett Kavanaugh comes with an extensive résumé, which includes:

  • Time spent working for Kenneth Starr, the independent prosecutor who investigated President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s.
  • Time spent working for George W. Bush. Kavanaugh was Bush’s Solicitor General before being confirmed to the Court of Appeals.
  • His time on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Kavanaugh was placed on that court in 2006 and has served there ever since.

Kavanaugh is only 53 years old, but since his history was extensive, there was a lot of paperwork to process. That is the reason why conservatives tried to warn Trump from nominating him, even though he was handpicked by the Federalist Society. If the Republicans were being honest actors, it would take more time to get Kavanaugh through the nominating process, but these are the same people who pushed through various cabinet picks despite missing paperwork.

Once confirmed, Kavanaugh will give the court yet another Yale Law grad (all justices have either graduated from Yale or Harvard Law School). He will also tilt the court hard to the right.


The Implications of Kavanaugh’s Confirmation

While we were fighting each other during the 2016 presidential election, a largely ignored issue was the Supreme Court and courts in general. It was certainly in the back of my mind, but far too many people on the left neglected to focus on this issue when trying to convince others to vote a certain way. As more and more people are finding out, the courts should serve as another avenue to affect change and to fight unjust laws and rules made by certain agencies (like the damned FCC). Thus, it would make sense to elect someone who would nominate qualified judges who would uphold the rule of law.

Unfortunately, reactionaries and other far-right ideologues were more focused on the Supreme Court; thus, their vote for Trump was in part a push for an equally reactionary court. Of course, their main target is Roe v. Wade, but there are far-reaching implications in other areas.

Why Do I Oppose Overruling Roe v. Wade?

I have not made a post in which I talked exclusively about abortion, but I have briefly discussed the topic before. These are my thoughts on the matter, as best summarized in the post entitled, [Side Rant] Take Your ‘Ideological Purity’ and Shove It …:

I personally hate abortion, but I feel it should be “safe, rare and legal.” On a related note, contraceptives should be available and people should have sex education to prevent unwanted pregnancies, abortions, and stop the spread of diseases.

I oppose overruling that 1973 decision because it will cause more harm than good — and I don’t believe it will do any good, to be honest. Like it or not, and whether it’s legal or not, abortions will happen. Thus, if abortion is illegal, there will be no regulations in place to protect patients so women will die from getting unsafe abortions.

Before abortion was legal in the United States, more women got back-alley abortions and did things like use coat hangers to terminate unwanted pregnancies. This will happen again if Roe v. Wade is overturned and we might see other penalties, like jail time for women who get abortions and doctors who perform them.

That’s not all, though. If abortion is made illegal, it will only be a matter of time before reactionaries turn their attention toward getting rid of all contraceptives. Like it or not, unmarried people will have sexual intercourse. Without contraceptives, there will be more unwanted pregnancies and more people’s lives will be cut short because of the spread of HIV, AIDS, and venereal diseases.

Additionally, some women need birth control pills to regulate their periods. That doesn’t matter to pro-lifers. They’d ban the pill because it can be used as a contraceptive.

How Much Damage Can a Hard-Right Supreme Court Do?

Besides reproductive rights, there are many other areas where the Supreme Court can do damage with a hard-right slant they include:

  • The environment
  • Civil rights
  • Workers’ rights
  • Campaign finance
  • Voters’ rights and election law
  • The rights of protesters
  • Free speech in general
  • Net neutrality
  • The separation of church and state
  • The powers of the executive

From the papers leaked by Sen. Cory Booker and other on or before September 6, we know full well where Kavanaugh stands on various issues.

  • He feels that the Open Internet Order of 2015 was “illegal.”
  • He said that Roe v. Wade wasn’t settled law.
  • He opposed affirmative action and wanted to dispute the protected status of native Hawaiians.

If this wasn’t bad enough, in written papers, Kavanaugh made it clear that he didn’t feel that presidents should be held accountable. This is a disastrous pick.

How Is Bad the Supreme Court Now?

So far, with the stolen seat occupied by Neil Gorsuch, the SCOTUS has already made a series of 5-4 decisions that have negatively impacted people:

  • Janus v. AFSCME. While people might argue that this 5-4 decision was reasonable — the majority ruled that non-union employees should not be charged union dues because that violated the First Amendment — this 2018 decision may pave the way for a national right-to-work movement. As Justice Elena Kagan pointed out in her dissenting opinion, non-union members were protected by the unions because of those organizations’ role collective bargaining. The 5-4 decision thus overturned the precedent set in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.
  • National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra. In this decision, the majority ruled that California’s Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act likely violated the First Amendment. The act was passed to make sure that all women would be granted access to reproductive health services regardless of income. The act also required “crisis pregnancy centers” run by pro-life groups to inform women of all of their options, including contraception and abortion.
  • Trump v. Hawaii. On January 27, 2017, Donald Trump signed an executive order banning the entry of individuals from seven mostly-Muslim countries into the United States for 90 days. After a few challenges, Trump issued a new order on March 6, 2017, that banned individuals from six countries from entering the United States. The most decisive blow to these orders came from a federal court in Hawaii, but Trump Tried again and made a September 24, 2017 Proclamation banning individuals from eight countries. The Supreme Court effectively held up Trump’s proclamation.

We already saw the effects of Trump’s travel ban. It immediately created confusion, but it hurt people who legally worked in the U.S. Essentially, if someone works in the U.S. but decides to visit their home country, they could be blocked from re-entry. Even if someone is here legally and has a green card, they may be banned from reentering the country.

Before 2017

Even before Scalia kicked the bucket, the Court had made a series of horrible decisions since 2000, including:

  • Bush v. Gore. In 2000, the results of the presidential election hung in the balance. At issue, in this case, was the recount in Florida and whether it should continue. By a 5-4 decision, the Court said that the recount requested by Al Gore should be stopped, which allowed Florida to certify results that favored George W. Bush and gave him the White House.
  • Citizens United. This January 2010 decision essentially gave corporations free-speech protections. The 5-4 majority held that corporations should not be barred from contributing to political campaigns, less the government violated the First Amendment. Thus, money was free speech.
  • Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. At issue, in this case, was whether “closely held corporations” should be treated differently than nonprofits with regards to offering coverage for 20 types of FDA approved contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act. The plaintiffs, in this case, argued that the Department of Health and Human Services had violated the business owners’ religious beliefs because the owners felt that contraception was immoral. On June 30, 2014, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs but said that the ruling only applied to closely-held corporations and contraceptives (as opposed to mandates requiring vaccinations and blood transfusions).

By the Way …

The Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case was a 7-2 decision. The justices essentially punted the issue of gay rights for another day, but it remains to be seen if the issue of anti-gay discrimination will be directly challenged in the SCOTUS again and what the conservative judges will do if tasked with making a final ruling on such a case. I don’t have faith in them.


What Role Democrats Could Play

The Democrats will play no real role in these proceedings. While possible 2020 presidential candidates in Kamala Harris and Cory Booker have given Kavanaugh a hard time, all hopes of a real resistance were dashed immediately. Democrats had procedural options, like not showing up, because the Senate can only operate by law if over half of all Senators are present. However, it is clear that Republicans will break or defy any law, rule, or precedent to get what they want.

Anyway, talk of procedure is a moot point now that John McCain has died. He will be temporarily replaced by Jon Kyl, which gives Republicans 51 senators. Even before then, it was clear that Democrats would not do something so bold, especially when they have people like Joe Fucking Manchin gumming up the works and helping Republicans.

Just minutes after Trump announced his pick to replace Justice Kennedy, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer announced that he intended to vote against Kavanaugh’s confirmation and Schumer urged other Democrats in his caucus to do the same. Soon after, it became clear that the Democrats’ resistance against Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court pick was non-existent. Of course, certain Democrats — the usual suspects, including Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, and Claire McCaskill — refused to maintain a united front on this issue.

When asked if Schumer could influence his vote, Manchin said that Schumer could kiss his “you know what.” (Great, Joe. You won’t stand up to the Republicans, but you can sure stand up to your leader. With “friends” like these, who needs enemies?)

Schumer quickly backed down. Gee, I wonder why. ($chumer’$ donor$ probably told him to $tand down.)


What We Need to Do with the Court to Avert or End a Constitutional Crisis

If the Democrats (preferably real progressives) do manage to take over Congress and take back the White House, they will need to pack the courts in order to stop the onslaught. Ultimately, the damage will not be done solely by the Supreme Court, but in lower courts, as well. In fact, more precedents will be set at the appellate court levels, but Democrats have actually helped Trump there, too.

While much of the focus has been on Trump filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by Anthony Kennedy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel was quietly working with Donald Trump to quickly fill appellate court vacancies. There is a total of 179 appellate judgeships in the United States, and Trump can appoint 20% of them when all is said and done.

The only thing that might serve as good news is the relatively slow pace at which McConnel was filling district court vacancies. At this point, Trump is behind Barack Obama and George W. Bush. However, by the end of August, Democrats helped McConnel fill even more district court vacancies in a deal that would fast-track 15 judicial confirmations.

What did the Democrats get in return? They got to go home, and they received a promise that a building would be named after the late Sen. John McCain. Aww …

WTF is this? Don’t you see why these Democrats piss me off?

Anyway, is there more we should do? Longtime, there are some solutions I would like to see implemented.

The Canadian System, Anyone?

A few months ago, David Doel compared the American Supreme Court system with the Canadian system and he explained how the latter worked.

I would prefer a system like this. Only qualified judges need to apply and these appointments would no longer be lifetime appointments.

Instituting Term Limits

Believe it or not, this was an idea floated by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who now serves as Trump’s Energy Secretary. When Perry ran for president in 2012, his website contained this suggestion for the Supreme Court:

A Constitutional Amendment creating 18-year terms staggered every 2 years, so that each of the nine Justices would be replaced in order of seniority every other year. This would be a prospective proposal, and would be applied to future judges only. Doing this would more the court closer to the people by ensuring that every President would have the opportunity to replace two Justices per term, and that no court could stretch its ideology over multiple generations. Further, this reform would maintain judicial independence, but instill regularity to the nominations process, discourage Justices from choosing a retirement date based on politics and will stop the ever-increasing tenure if Justices.

I could get behind this idea if it was seriously presented. In fact, I think it would be better than a 10-year term limit for judges. The point is there should be a term-limit for Supreme Court justices and there should be a greater focus on a judge’s qualifications for the court.

Getting Rid of Partisan Justices

Ultimately, this should be the aim. What we need are judges who will respect the law and to remain unbiased as possible while factoring in the general well-being of society, but it will take many years to get judges who are not beholden to a party or ideology. I don’t know if the United States has been so divided and partisan at any time in its history, but partisanship has filtered down into the judicial system because judges are being appointed by client-science deniers and corporatists. This has to end.

In order to get rid of partisan judges — or to at least curtail their partisanship — we need to find political solutions to our problems and keep as many out of the court as possible. That means we must strengthen our democracy and get more voters involved in the process of voting. If more people were satisfied with the political process, fewer fights will be taken to court and the Supreme Court would take less of an activist role.


In the Meantime …

Civil disobedience may be our only recourse. The Supreme Court could render more opinions that hurt workers, renters, the environment, etc., but can it enforce all of those rulings? Has the Court been able to enforce its rulings about gerrymandering? In many cases, states have downright ignored rulings from the highest court in the land and that is what U.S. citizens should do if and when the Court hands down unjust rulings against things like net neutrality.


Conclusion

So, if you didn’t figure it out by now, I don’t have much faith in our judicial system, let alone Congress. We have gotten to this point in large part because of toxic partisanship, so we need nonpartisan solutions to get us out of it. Until then, we wait with baited breath to see how far back this far-right SCOTUS will take us.

Yes, we all should think about court appointments when voting in the future. However, if and when Democrats assume the reigns of power again, they need to be willing to make bold moves that actually help their constituents and Americans at large. The Chuck Schumers of the world are not going to help us because they’re weak, they’re bought off, and they will always be sabotaged by their own weakness and shitheads like Joe Manchin.


Note About the First Image

The West face of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. can be seen in this 2008 photograph. The original image can be used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported. (I altered the image by cropping it, reducing the size, inverting the colors after making it black and white.)