It has been nearly three years since U.S. President Donald Trump was inaugurated into office. Arguably, the last election was one of the most divisive elections in U.S. history due to controversial candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Both candidates have reputations, such as Clinton being known for her private email scandal and Trump being accused of racism and sexism.

The next election will take place in November 2020, which means that a whole new generation of people will be eligible to vote—he seniors and a small selection of juniors from Oswego High School will be 18 years old by then.

Voting is an effective way for U.S. citizens to participate in democracy. It is common for teenagers to share or retweet a post on social media about a political issue, but then move on with their lives and not do anything. It’s almost as if sharing a post makes the person feel like a social justice warrior, or they do it to follow a trend, but nothing is done about the issue itself. This is also known as “slacktivism“, the act of promoting a political or social cause, but with minimal effort or attempt.

Because of this, it’s essential for the youth to vote to make progress.

For students who have the opportunity to vote by the next election, it is crucial to start looking at candidates running for president and keep up with their stances on important issues. However, students might not always have the time to look further into these candidates. With being busy with sports, clubs, social life, and grades, here is a guide that offers a profile for the most prominent Democratic candidates of 2020.

Rep. Beto O’Rourke

You may have already heard of Beto O’Rourke, since he is very popular with the youth and in the media. O’Rourke is a former U.S. Texas Representative.

In 2018, he made groundbreaking news for being the most voted-for Democrat in Texas’ history. Considering Texas’s very conservative history, that’s a pretty big deal.

Beto is best known for his likable personality and his leftist views. O’Rourke is classified by political analysts as a progressive liberal. Progressivism is defined as advocating for social reform and change. Some of his most popular stances on issues include raising teacher pay, the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and implementing paid leave. He also supports the Green Deal, pledges to expand and fix debt relief programs for students, and supports a mandatory buyback program for assault weapons as well as universal background checks.

For many students, their main priorities include effective gun reform to prevent mass shootings and ensure a safe learning environment. Students may also be interested in voting for O’Rourke because of his plans to provide help for school debt costs. He also supports the Green Deal and pledges to pay farmers to be more eco-friendly with their practices. The problem with that, however, is that adapting to more sustainable agriculture methods would be more costly, but environmental change is one of O’Rourke’s main priorities. 

For many young people, climate change is one of the main priorities in the world right now, so voting for Beto O’Rourke would ensure a change in that area. He also advocates for pro-choice, the legalization of marijuana, immigration reform and the continuation of the DACA program.

Economically, Beto believes in increasing taxes for wealthy Americans as well as raising corporate taxes. That policy would be very appealing for the middle class, but not so much for the 1% and other wealthy Americans.

Overall, Beto O’Rourke seems to care about the American public and wants to change a lot of policies that the Trump Administration currently has in place.

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Similar to O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders was overwhelmingly popular within the youth during his last run for president in the 2016 elections, but he lost to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary election. Despite that loss, he announced his run for the presidency again for the 2020 elections, which shows his passion for the country.

Sanders is a U.S. Senator from Vermont and labels himself as a Democratic Socialist. This candidate may appeal to students who feel strongly about poverty and injustices in society because that’s one of his main focuses. Sanders is as left as it gets.

Bernie is famous for not having accepted any money from businesses for his presidential campaigns. Instead, he depends on small donations from citizens and voters alike.

A lot of his priorities include limiting the power of large businesses and providing more support for the middle class. However, many Americans dislike him due to being labeled as a communist or radical. Some of Sanders’ priorities include making public colleges tuition-free, increasing social security benefits, abolishing private prisons, raising taxes on the wealthy, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, proposing paid leave, implementing government regulations to limit carbon emissions, having better background checks for assault weapons, and providing free meals at school. Many of these proposals would appeal to young adults since the idea of socialism has been very popular amongst teens. Bernie promises to find that balance between capitalism and socialism, trying to imitate successful European first world countries that follow a democratic socialist government.

Additionally, Sanders is pro-choice and wants to grant citizenship to undocumented immigrants. He is also very passionate about climate change and wants to make it a national emergency so immediate action can happen.

Another vital thing to note is that Sanders has discussed clearing the trillion-dollar student debt, so that is something that might attract future and current college students who want to avoid the overwhelming debt.

Overall, Bernie Sanders is very left-leaning and liberal, so for those who fall in the same category, Sanders is a possible candidate you might want to vote for! However, it is important to consider that Sanders was under hospitalization for a blocked artery, which in turn, made him put his campaign on hold for a few days. Yet, a recent statement claimed he was feeling better and is up for his next debate.

Former Vice President Joe Biden

If you know President Obama, you know Joe Biden, who announced he is running for president in the 2020 elections.

Similar to Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden also wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden proposed to make two years of college free, which would help reduce costs by a significant amount and give everyone an opportunity of higher education regardless of status. He also wants to extend and fix already existing debt-relief programs for students. Following the topic of education, Biden proposes to increase teacher pay.

On the subject of energy and environment change, Biden believes in developing new nuclear technologies to help the environment as well as to tax carbon emissions in efforts to reduce them. He wants to advocate for farmers to use more eco-friendly practices in the agricultural industry.

Regarding assault weapons, Joe Biden wants to support a voluntary buyback program and require mandatory universal background checks in response to the mass shootings occurring within the nation.

Biden’s last statement regarding abortion in 2003 was to place limits on late-term abortion, but one may expect a more recent update on his views in the months to come.

Biden does not support Medicare for All but pledges to expand its coverage. He has not proposed an alternative to Medicare for All.

In terms of immigration, he wishes to grant citizenship to Dreamers.

Additionally, Biden believes in decriminalizing marijuana, as well as boosting the defense budget. Many people complain that the defense budget is already too high, so that might not appeal to some American voters.

Lastly, he pledges to raise the capital gains tax rate and corporate taxes as well.

Overall, people who widely supported Barack Obama as a president may also support Biden, since he was the vice president during Obama’s eight-year presidency, so they were close and share similar political views.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren is a U.S. politician who formerly served as a senator for Massachusetts in 2013.

Similar in trend to other Democratic candidates, Warren wants to raise the minimum wage to $15s an hour. She also supports paid leave, whether it be family or medical leave.

Important to note for students is that Warren believes that college should be free, and wants to cancel partial student debt as well.

Warren wishes to end offshore drilling and new oil and gas leases in US soil in hopes of reducing environmental damage.

Additionally, she proposes to set in place government regulations to reduce carbon emissions and alter farming practices to be more sustainable.

Warren supports a ban on assault weapons and universal background checks for the safety of the people.

Regarding abortion, Warren believes abortion is a  woman’s choice.

Warren is all in favor of the Medicare system and wants it to cover every American.

She has been very clear in her opinion regarding immigration and believes current immigration practices are unethical at handling families in detention centers. She wants to repeal the statute and provide citizenship for Dreamers.

Warren wishes to legalize marijuana on a national level and revoke criminal convictions for marijuana possession.

Contrary to Joe Biden, Warren wants to slash the defense budget and bring the troops home.

Lastly, she plans on increasing taxes on wealthy Americans and certain corporations.

A lot of these Democratic candidates share similar stances on issues. Still, it is up to their stamina and passion portrayed in the media, TV, and campaigns to appeal to U.S. citizens. Although this is an overview of Democratic candidates’ views on topics that mostly affect young adults, I recommend watching public speeches and future debates to capture the candidates’ voices, personalities, and body language. It was Donald Trump and Barack Obama’s distinct personalities that made them appealing to certain people and helped them gain votes. Those qualities play a huge role in deciding whether a candidate is apt to be the next president.

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