A Who's Who Of The 2020 Democratic Contenders (So Far)

A Who's Who Of The 2020 Democratic Contenders (So Far)

A list of Democrats running in 2020, in alphabetical order.

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Though the presidential race is still a year away, campaign season has already begun, especially for the democrats. So far, eight dems have either announced their candidacies or formed an exploratory committee. Some big names - including Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden - remain off the list, but could be joining the race soon. All in all, these men and women represent the most diversified group of democratic candidates in history.

Pete Buttigieg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXeHxLZESgM

At the age of 29, Pete Buttigieg became mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Now, eight years later, he's running for president in the hopes of a "fresh start" for America, one that will be led by millennials -- a generation he belongs to. His policy standpoints are still unclear, but his work bringing South Bend -- a former industrial center -- into the 21st century demonstrates a focus on higher education and healthcare reform. Though his political resume is short, Buttigieg's background as a Rhodes scholar and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan is impressive. If he were to be elected (chances are slim), he would also be the first openly gay president in history.

Julian Castro

https://www.instagram.com/p/BsCX5rRFi40/

You may not have heard of Julián Castro before, but for Democrats within the party, his candidacy comes as no surprise. Castro first took public office when he became mayor of San Antonio in 2009, and later joined the Obama administration as the youngest secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The central theme of his platform: opportunity for all, regardless of "who we are or where we come from." Castro aims to expand healthcare access, make early childhood education possible for all children, and take action against climate change. His Cuban background could give him an advantage among Latino voters, but he'll face tough competition against fellow Texan newcomer Beto O'Rourke, should O'Rourke choose to run.

John Delaney

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYW6UokQC8U

John Delaney is a former representative of Maryland's sixth district, and the first Democrat that announced his 2020 bid. Originally from New Jersey, Delaney decided to run for public office in 2012 after co-founding two publicly-traded companies. During his time in office, he supported measures that would help out veterans and strengthen public education. Delaney believes that technological innovation, tax reform, and building new infrastructure are essential for America's future. On his website, he lists four principles as the central issues of his campaign: unity, prosperity, security, and justice.

Tulsi Gabbard

https://www.instagram.com/p/BsjHC9pnYHp/

Perhaps the most controversial candidate in the field, Tulsi Gabbard was first elected to Congress in 2012, and has represented Hawaii's second district ever since. Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran, was once hailed as the future of the democratic party, but her harsh take on foreign policy in the Middle East and past ties to anti-LGBTQIA groups have since made her an outcast. At 37, Gabbard would also be the youngest woman running. Despite this, her platform is somewhat similar to that of her peers, calling for campaign finance reform, action on climate change, and criminal justice reform. Gabbard advocates for an end to American intervention in Syria as well.

Kirsten Gillibrand

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bp14InihGsv/

Kirsten Gillibrand became a New York senator in 2009 to fill the vacancy left by then-Senator Hillary Clinton after she was nominated as secretary of state. Before this, Gillibrand served in Congress, and worked as special counsel to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo during the Clinton administration. During her time in the Senate, she made headway tackling sexual assault in the military and helping to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." As a mother of two sons, Gillibrand has made paid family leave an essential part of her campaign. Though she now fights for liberal causes, Gillibrand was once a centrist Democrat with an "A" rating from the NRA.

Kamala Harris

https://www.instagram.com/p/BtCmhm1AT7_/

Kamala Harris, a senator from California, officially announced her candidacy on January 21, just over a week ago. As the first female African American attorney general of California, and the second African American woman elected to the Senate, Harris is no stranger to breaking barriers. She gained notoriety in 2018 when, as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, she grilled former Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearings. Harris is a proponent of Medicare for All and believes in cutting taxes for the middle class. However, her rising popularity could be endangered by her confusing record as a state prosecutor, which critics argue leans more conservative than progressive.

Elizabeth Warren

https://www.instagram.com/p/BsTDuFlHijv/

Elizabeth Warren became senator of Massachusetts in 2013, and has since made a name for herself as a leading progressive within the Democratic party. Her experiences growing up in a middle-class family from Oklahoma, as well as her extensive law career, have made her a champion for economic fairness. Warren aims for the typical American voter when she empathizes with class struggle and calls for an end to corporate influence in Washington. Though she's made significant strides in her career, Warren recently came under fire after releasing DNA test results proving her Native American ancestry in response to President Trump's name-calling her "Pocahontas."

Andrew Yang

https://www.instagram.com/p/BsiyQpSB9kz/

A political newcomer, Andrew Yang is a New York businessman and former tech executive. He is known for founding Venture for America, a nonprofit organization that trains recent college graduates to launch and work for startups in up-and-coming cities across the United States. His campaign slogan, "Humanity First," echoes his idea that automation (think robots) will soon be taking over millions of jobs, creating record-breaking unemployment levels. The solution: universal basic income (UBI), or 18,000 dollars a month for every adult over 18. Yang proposes that UBI would be paid for by taxing the companies "benefiting most from automation."

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Avatar: The Last Airbender Is Still Iconic, And Here's Why

Although it's a children's cartoon from the 2000s, ATLA remains one of the greatest shows ever made.

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Avatar: The Last Airbender ended in 2008, but I've watched the full series at least ten other times since then. I was a big fan of ATLA when it was first airing, but sometimes I marvel at how lasting it's impact is over a decade later. I've seen ATLA bumper stickers and tattoos depicting the four elements, not mention that I myself have a "Jasmine Dragon" sticker on my laptop resembling the Starbucks logo. ATLA was incredible. It's witty, fun, emotionally impactful, interesting in plot, and filled with relatable characters. "Korra" was a nice attempt to follow up on a passionate fanbase, but it ultimately didn't resonate with viewers to the same degree. That said, sometimes people wonder why I'm still so invested in a kid's cartoon from the 2000s. Here's why.

The show referenced a variety of cultures from around the world

If you've watched the show, you've probably realized that there aren't actually any "white" characters in the Avatar-verse. Not that European cultures aren't valid, but it is notable that the show was created as an appreciation of cultures that often go overlooked. The art and music were heavily influenced by East and South Asia, and the different nations clearly reference Asian and indigenous traditions. Earth Kingdom cities were based off of real cities in East Asia, and the culture depicted drew from various East Asian nations as well. The same applies to the fire nation, which was originally modeled off of Japan and China. The water tribes have their foundations in Inuit and Sireniki cultures, and the air nomads are based on Tibetans, Sri Lankan Buddhists, and Shaolin Monks. There are many other historical references throughout "Avatar," including a nod to ancient Mesopotamia in the Sun Warriors.

The characters were complex and relatable

"ATLA" didn't just give us a typical group of teenage heroes, with each one fitting into a typical mold. They were complex and realistic, and that's what made them relatable. We saw Aang balance his role as Avatar with his personal moral philosophy, all while experiencing the onset of puberty and young adulthood. We watched Katara struggle with responsibility as the main female role model in her family after her mother's death. We observed and related to Toph and Zuko's complex relationships with their families, including the influence that an abusive parent can have on a young life. We experienced the struggles of inferiority to "better" friends with Sokka, and even learned about toxic friendships with Mai and Ty Lee. These were all growing kids and teenagers, and nothing could have been more genuine.

"ATLA" gave us some incredible, strong female leads to look up to

Katara was truly the first feminist I ever encountered on television. Not only did she become a master waterbender in the span of weeks, she also taught the Avatar! And the whole time, she reminded us that strong fighters can be feminine too. Meanwhile, Toph showed us that just because a person has a disability, doesn't mean that they are defined by it. In fact, Toph's blindness only enhances her abilities, rather than holding her back. We also encounter powerful female characters like Azula (I know, she's evil, but that doesn't make her any less of a prodigy), Ty Lee, Mai, Suki (and all the Kyoshi warriors for that matter), Smellerbee, and even Princess Yue (who literally died for her people, mind you).

It made a deep, dramatic topic witty and fun

It occurred to me recently that "Avatar" is basically about imperialism and genocide. The Fire Nation decides to take over the world through military force, and it does so by exterminating an entire people and occupying and colonizing everyone else. For such a deep topic, you wouldn't think the show would be quite as fun as it is, but it is. I've restarted watching, and I find myself constantly laughing. With Sokka's sarcastic comments, Iroh's oddities, and everybody else's regular quips, "ATLA" is regularly lighthearted and never takes itself too seriously.

There's some real wise advice throughout

Finally, what "ATLA" is really known for, is its heart. Uncle Iroh provides us with a regular understanding of the world around us, encouraging us to see the world in balance and look for our true selves. His wise words ring true throughout childhood and adulthood. The underlying themes and messages of the show, including balance, friendship, love, and loyalty, all serve the greater purpose of advising the audience.

In summary, "Avatar" was amazing. If you haven't, I highly recommend you do. If you have, maybe go rewatch!

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