Published On: Wed, Jan 29th, 2020

Democratic presidential hopefuls display unique type of tenacity – second of 2 parts

By Carlo Barbieri

Second of 2 parts

This year, that trek for Democratic hopefuls is particularly high.

Incumbent President Donald Trump is a formidable opponent. While he has been the target of extensive criticism, he has led the country to unprecedented levels of job growth and prosperity. He has racked up a sustained level of popularity and he seems to shun reproach with remarkable disdain.

In this column last week, we examined the policies, programs and proposals of the Democratic wannabes who have generally ranked among the top finishers in various polls and popularity tallies taken during the campaign thus far.

We flip the roster in this column and study the candidates who continue to fight for a first-place finish among Democratic presidential contenders.

Tulsi Gabbard, 38, a U.S. congresswoman from Hawaii since 2013, is unique among Democrats who have declared the presidency their goal for 2020. She noted her religious association when she announced her bid for president on Feb. 2, 2019, but added: “While the headlines covering my announcement could have celebrated this landmark first… some have instead fomented suspicion, fear and religious bigotry about not only me but also my supporters.”

Gabbard also served in the Hawaii Army National Guard in a combat zone in Iraq and was deployed to Kuwait. The young woman makes no bones about her combat experience and her pride in stepping up to the plate to fight for her country.

The rep from Hawaii is perhaps best known for her political moderation. When the U.S. House voted to impeach Trump, Gabbard was the only person – Democrat or Republican – who just voted “present.”

After working for her father’s anti-gay advocacy group and drafting relevant legislation, she was forced to apologize for her past views on same-sex marriage. Gabbard’s populist, anti-war approach has won her fans among the far left and the far right.

Gabbard recently introduced The Small Business and Community Investments Expansion Act, which will, if adopted, allow certain community development financial institutions and credit unions who are members of a Federal Home Loan Bank to finance small business, agricultural and community development activities.

Also still seeking an upper niche among Democratic presidential finishers is Michael Bennet, 54, U.S. senator from Colorado since 2009. In addition, he is the former head of the Denver school district.

A quiet moderate, he tended to operate in the background of the Senate — until he confront Senator Ted Cruz during the government shutdown.

On other issues, Bennet wants to abolish capital punishment and mandate paper ballots for elections to ensure voter tally accuracy and security.

In the matter of affordable housing, Bennet endorses a combination of construction funding and rent subsidies. To bolster the economy, he proposes to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour.  He supports charter schools and wants to fix programs for relieving the burden of student debt.  He has built a political career on improving the American education system.

During his campaign, John Delaney, 56, – U.S. congressman from Maryland’s sixth district — has promoted himself as “a leading voice in Congress on 21st century jobs, education, veterans issues and infrastructure.”

He said in an op-ed piece: “The Democratic Party cherishes opportunity over birthright; wants people to earn a good living; offers a helping hand to the poor, the immigrant and those left behind; wants all Americans to have health care; embraces diversity, equality and justice; understands the importance of global engagements; believes that government can do transformative things and stands ready to provide for our common defense. This is why I’m a Democrat.”

A centrist, Delaney touts his own bipartisan credentials as evidence of his ability to jump the partisan divide. Delaney proclaims himself to be a progressive interested in creating “real–not political–progress.”

Candidate Tom Steyer, 62, is a billionaire activist who, in 2012, started Nextgen America, a political action committee that has contributed $230 million to Democrats in the 2014, 2016 and 2018 campaign cycles, says the Washington Post.

With a net worth estimated at $1.6 billion built from decades running the hedge fund Farallon Capital, Steyer had been focusing on impeaching President Trump. But he says he saw a need for a 2020 contender to speak more urgently about climate change and about Trump’s behavior. “I don’t see the Democratic establishment doing anything real to stop him,” said the candidate, quoted in the Washington Post.

Steyer said he wants to “undo every Republican tax cut for rich people and rich corporations.”  He supports a $15-an-hour minimum wage and increased earned income tax credits.

Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick tossed his hat into the presidential job arena in November, despite the large number of would-be Democratic nominees in the running.

“This race is not just about the character of any one individual, but about the character of the country. This is our chance to reclaim the American dream,” Patrick says on his campaign website.

The 63-year-old African-American, a friend of former President Barack Obama, said he is seeking the votes of “those who feel their government and the economy have let them down.”

He supports raising the corporate tax rate to 25 percent. He also endorses a plan for government-provided reparations to living descendants of slaves and supports a House bill calling for a commission to study the issue.

Andrew Yang, 44, has carved a notch in the presidential pack by endorsing the Freedom Dividend – a suggested payment of $1,000 a month to all Americans 18 and older to help those who will lose their jobs due to continuing automation.

He said: “In the next 12 years, one out of three American workers are at risk of losing their jobs to new technologies—and unlike with previous waves of automation, this time new jobs will not appear quickly enough in large enough numbers to make up for it. To avoid an unprecedented crisis, we’re going to have to find a new solution, unlike anything we’ve done before. It all begins with the Freedom Dividend, a universal basic income for all American adults, no strings attached.”

Yang, the son of immigrants from Taiwan, wants to abolish capital punishment, eliminate private prisons and establish a system of voting that allows the electorate to use mobile apps.

These are the top Democratic candidates and one of them will be running for the 2020 election, competing with the current president to occupy the White House from January 2021.

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About the Author

- My name is Carlo Barbieri, an entrepreneur, civic activist and a leader of many organizations associated with Brazil. A native of Brazil myself, I am currently the CEO of Oxford Group, a firm composed of many international consulting and trading companies. I am also a founding member of the Brazilian Business Group and founding member and Past President of the Brazil Club. In addition, I serve as a Board member of the Deerfield Chamber of Commerce. I have served as a member of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Brazil Partnership. Past President of the Rotary Club – Boca Raton West for the 2014-2015 term, I have also been Vice President and Professor of 2Grow – Human Development. An Ambassador of Barry University in Brazil, I am the former President of the Black Fire Bull Steak House. I have also presided over a number of organizations such as the Brazilian Association of Trading Companies (ABECE), Brazil-China Chamber of Commerce in São Paulo, Brazil-Australia Chamber of Commerce, Brazil-Dominican Republican Chamber of Commerce; director of the Trade Center of the State of São Paulo, Brazilian Association of Freight Forwarders and Brazilian Association of Banks. I was also a local Council member for the Consulate General of Brazil in Miami, for the 2013-2017 term.

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