Thursday, February 20, 2020

Where They Stand ...


It is early 2020, and we are embarking on an exciting new phase of our journey, a phase in which the "consent of the governed" has been deemed to have outlived its usefulness, one in which the country is run by he who is a self-appointed king in all but name. And Democrats are, true to form, doing everything in their power to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Granted, they aren't doing this alone. They are receiving a lot of help -- from Russian bots, from the Republican Party (which is investing in the same sort of disinformation campaigns the Russians employed in 2016), from trump himself. But most of the heavy lifting involved in losing what has to be the most winnable election in decades is being done by Democrats -- the candidates themselves as well as their campaigns and their supporters.

Of course, all this disinformation is useless if people are informed, right? I mean, one of the bedrock principles on which this nation was founded was that of an informed electorate. Unfortunately, thanks to social media, voter apathy, and deliberate propaganda campaigns, we are dealing with a woefully misinformed electorate (for example, trump supporters who are perfectly fine with the Affordable Care Act, but they don't want none o' that Kenyan commie Obamacare bullshit).

This election is shaping up to be the ugliest, meanest, most vile, most vicious election ever. Bet your bottom dollar that trump will be going after the nominee in all his fetid, adolescent glory, hurling insults that would not be out of place in a sixth grade cafeteria, and manufacturing crackpot conspiracy theories about how Mayor Pete is actually Caligula and he's trying to abduct Jared Kushner as a sex slave, or something.

Unfortunately, because of the impeachment debacle, trump now feels invincible. It is not outside of the realm of possibility that, should he lose the election, he will simply declare martial law, declare the election to be invalid, and install himself as the Provisional Military Governor "just until we get things straightened out" (or the Earth crashes into the Sun, whichever comes first). The only way we can do this is to not just win the election,but annihilate him in the election. We need to make the Nixon-McGovern election of 1972 look like a squeaker. He has to lose so big, so obviously, that there is absolutely no political cover for any of his cronies in Congress to support him.

Speaking of political cover, another thing we need to do is to create avenues for Republican lawmakers to quietly oppose trump without suffering too much political blowback. My gut feeling is that there are at least twenty or more Senators and close to a hundred Representatives who would like nothing more than for trump to go away, but who are in districts/states that tilt heavily toward trump. If we can make it safe for them to come out and play with us, we can get the kind of numbers we need and thoroughly undercut his support.

Finally, we need a platform. I realize this is usually revealed at the convention, but in past election cycles details would start to leak several months before the convention (which, in a staggering coincidence that surprises almost nobody, is right about now). What we are seeing this time around, however, is kind of a free-for-all -- sort of a progressive cage match where the winner is apparently selected based on who was the loudest. And it has to be more than "we're gonna get rid of trump."

By all means, that is important. Crucial for our survival as a nation, actually. But one political maxim that has rung true throughout our history is this:

People don't like to vote against things.

They want to vote for something, something positive, something that can be viewed as progressive (in the literal dictionary sense of "making progress toward a goal").

This election is not just about unseating a wannabe dictator. Thanks to trump's constant assault on common decency and our senses, we have all become inured to his bloviation, desensitized to his outrages. Things that would be scandalous in the extreme four years ago are just "meh" now. What we need -- from all of the candidates, and you can tell 'em I said so -- is a unified message, and it has to be more than "hey, I ain't trump."

It is also about restoring America's place in the world, and restoring some semblance of dignity to our political discourse. With this in mind, candidates need to hit on the following points:
I will not lie to you. There may be times when I have to withhold information for purposes of national security or political necessity, but I will not mislead you. This includes propagating baseless conspiracy theories.
Opponents are people, too. In our current political climate it is not enough to disagree with someone; that person has to be absolutely destroyed. I will always respect my opponents, their views, and their right to hold these views. To quote Evelyn Beatrice Hall, writing under the pseudonym S. G. Tallentyre, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
My White House will be run professionally. People will be selected for appointed positions based on their abilities and experience, not their loyalty.
My administration will operate under a principle of complete transparency. I have nothing to hide.

Below is a table of the candidates and their positions on various issues. A few notes ...
  • If a square in the below table is blank, it means that the candidate has not been asked this question. If a question were to be refused by a candidate, this would be so noted.
  • I have attempted to group these in a way that makes some kind of sense. Questions are organized into higher-level areas of interest.
  • I used this Wikipedia page as my jumping-off point. Data were collected from this page as well as various news articles, position papers published by the candidates, public statements, etc.
  • This article is by no means intended to promote or denigrate any specific candidate (my preferences are specified elsewhere). It is merely a repository of information that I hope you find useful.
So, with that being said, here is some accurate information about the current crop of Democratic candidates.

I gotta lie down.
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Issue Joe Biden Michael Bloomberg Pete Buttigieg Tulsi Gabbard Amy Klobuchar Bernie Sanders Tom Steyer Elizabeth Warren

Education

Tuition-free public college Community college for all Public college for lower and middle income families. Community college for all; four-year college for families making less than $125K. Community college for all. Community college for all; four-year college for families making less than $125K. Community college for all. Public college for all.
Student loan debt relief No No No Borrowers should be able to refinance student loans through the federal government and receive a lower interest rate. Federal student loan interest rates should be lower, and the federal government should not make a profit on student loans. Cancel $50K for those making $100K or less; "substantial debt cancellation" for families making between $100K and $250K; debt cancellation not treated as income.
Universal child care Free for all Free for low-income families. Free for low-income families. Free for all. Free for all. Free for low-income families.
Universal pre-k Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Increased funding for primary/secondary education Yes Yes Yes Yes

Environmental Issues

Green New Deal Pushes the decarbonization deadline out two decades from 2030 to 2050. No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Carbon tax Yes Yes Maybe Yes Yes Yes
Paris agreement Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ban fracking No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Ban offshore drilling Will pursue an international ban of offshore drilling in the Arctic. No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Declare climate change a national emergency Yes Yes Yes Yes

Gun Control

Universal background checks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ban assault weapons Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Gun buyback Voluntary Voluntary Voluntary Voluntary Voluntary Voluntary Voluntary
Require gun license No Yes Yes Assault weapons only. Yes Yes

Health Care

Single-payer No No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Public option Yes Yes Yes Yes
Eliminate private health insurance No No No No No Yes No Yes
Import Rx drugs from Canada Maybe Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Immigration and Border Security

trump border wall No No No No No No No No
trump travel ban No No No No No No
Support DACA Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Allow more visa workers Yes Yes Yes Yes
Demilitarize US-Mexico border Yes Yes
Invest in ports of entry Yes Yes
Abolish ICE No No No No Yes No
Decriminalize illegal immigration No Yes Yes Yes

Technology

Reinstate net neutrality Unclear Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
CASE Act Yes No No No

Economics

Raise the estate tax exemption or eliminate the estate tax Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Postal banking to allow the "unbanked" to participate in the economy Yes Yes
Slavery reparations Supports a commission that determines what form reparations could take Supports H.R. 40, the Congressional Reparations Study Bill that is introduced in every Congress since 1989. Yes Supports H.R. 40, the Congressional Reparations Study Bill that is introduced in every Congress since 1989. Supports H.R. 40, the Congressional Reparations Study Bill that is introduced in every Congress since 1989. Yes Yes
Wealth tax No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Break up largest banks Yes Yes Yes

Labor and Welfare Issues

Minimum wage $15 $15 $15 $15 $15 $15 $15 $15
Universal Basic Income No Partial Yes No Maybe
Paid family leave Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Paid sick leave Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Limit right-to-work laws Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Job guarantee -- create full employment and price stability by having the state promise to hire unemployed workers as an employer of last resort (ELR). No Yes Partial

Foreign Policy

Rejoin Iran nuclear deal Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Recognize Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela Yes Yes No No
Israel-Palestine two-state solution Yes Yes Yes Yes
Aid to Israel No No Yes
Tariffs against China Unclear Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Meet with Kim Jong-un Partial (only with preconditions) Partial (only with preconditions) Yes Partial (only with preconditions) Yes Partial (only with preconditions)
Resume diplomatic relations with Assad Unclear No Yes Open No No

Defense

Withdraw troops from Afghanistan End of 1st term 1st year 1st year End of 1st term End of 1st term End of 1st term
Intervention in Syria Yes Yes No Yes No Unclear
Military intervention in Venezuela No No No No
Intervention in Yemen No No No No No No
Drone strikes Yes Limited Limited
Decrease military budget No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes

Electoral and Institutional Reform

Abolish Electoral College Unclear Yes Open (supports electoral college reform) Open Yes Yes
Abolish the filibuster Open Open Open Open Yes Yes
Adoption of ranked voting Yes Yes Open
Ban voter ID laws Yes Yes Yes
DC statehood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Puerto Rico statehood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Open Open
Restore voting rights to released felons Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Expand/reform Supreme Court Yes Impose term limits for Supreme Court justices, opposed to expanding the number of justices Yes
Make Election Day a federal holiday Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Lower voting age to 16 Open

Campaign Finance

No corporate PAC donations No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Overturn Citizens United Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Publicly funded elections Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Democracy vouchers1 Yes
We The People amendment2 Yes Yes

Abortion

Support the right to an abortion Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Contraceptive mandate (contraceptive costs covered by health insurance) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fund Planned Parenthood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Retain Hyde Amendment No No No No No No

Criminal Justice

Legalize and regulate all illicit drugs No No Endorses simply decriminalizing possession of all drugs Yes No No No No
End capital punishment Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Legalize marijuana Supports decriminalization at federal level, rescheduling marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, and allowing "states to continue to make their own choices regarding legalization." Partial Yes Yes Supports legalization at the federal level, but believes states should decide at the state level. Yes Yes Yes
Expunging records of cannabis convictions Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
End cash bail Yes Wants to reduce or eliminate cash bail for non-violent offenders Yes Yes Partial Yes Yes Yes
End private prisons Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
End mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses Yes Yes Yes Partial Yes Partial
Job placement for released offenders Yes
Decriminalize sex work Yes No Open Open

LGBT Issues

Equality Act3 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Same-sex marriage Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Transgender military service Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Candidate Solidarity

Pledge to support eventual nominee Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes

1Each registered voter receives a number of vouchers for a specific amount, which they were eligible to give to any eligible candidates standing for election. To be eligible, candidates must have:

  • Already raised between $1,500 and $6,000 from a minimum number of donors.
  • Agreed to campaign finance restrictions, including accepting no more than a predetermined amount of non-voucher funds from any individual contributor.
  • Agreed to cap campaign spending to a determined limit.

2The We The People Amendment is a joint resolution to amend the United States Constitution to abolish the doctrines of corporate personhood and of money equaling political speech.

3The Equality Act is a bill passed by the House that would amend the Civil Rights Act to "prohibit discrimination on the basis of the sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition of an individual, as well as because of sex-based stereotypes."

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