There is a challenge at the heart of covering political campaigns. Candidates often have complex positions on key issues that require extensive explication and analysis. But it can be tricky to get a sense for how those priorities rank and how any one candidate’s positions differ from those of their opponents.
We’re speaking here about the Platonic ideal of a voter, someone who actually does the research that would allow for such a comparison in the first place. Most — or, at least, many — voters simply don’t have the time or energy to do so. So how do we present policy positions in a way that allows for some contrasts and encourages people to learn more?
Here was my thinking: What if we asked campaigns themselves to summarize their views on issues, to help ease the vetting process for voters.
I reached out to a dozen campaigns for their thoughts on broadly identified policy areas — in 10 words or less. It was an arbitrary figure, certainly, but it seemed like one that would both force concision and make campaigns focus on the areas they considered priorities. To offset that brevity, I encouraged campaigns to provide links to information that would flesh out their thoughts.
The campaigns raised two valid concerns in response. The first: It is awfully early in the campaign for candidates to have robustly detailed policy positions. The second: The word limit might result in a focus on sloganeering. I think that this was mostly avoided below, but you be the judge.
Here are the responses we’ve received. (Some campaigns indicated that they intended to reply but hadn’t done so by deadline.) The participating candidates, in alphabetical order:
- Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
- Former representative John Delaney (D-Md.)
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
- Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
As others enter the campaign, they will be invited to participate, as well.
Booker: To put patients ahead of profits, provide Medicare for All.
Delaney: Universal healthcare, private options, lower costs, tech addiction, mental health.
Gillibrand: Medicare For All since 2006. Lower drug prices. Protect kids.
Harris: We need Medicare for All. Every American deserves health care.
Klobuchar: We need universal, affordable, quality healthcare coverage for all Americans.
Booker: Justice demands police accountability, marijuana legalization, end to mass incarceration.
Delaney: End systemic racial injustice. End for-profit prisons. Restitution.
Gillibrand: Combat institutional racism; decriminalize marijuana, end cash bail.
Harris: End mass incarceration and systemic discrimination. Be smart on crime.
Klobuchar: We must reform long prison sentences for non-violent offenders.
Booker: Economic justice means a fair shot at success for everyone.
Delaney: Expand EITC, increase minimum wage, Buffett Rule, address AI disruption.
Gillibrand: End corporate greed. Raise minimum wage. Postal Banking. Equal pay.
Klobuchar: Republican tax bill is regressive — the wealthiest should pay more.
Booker: Green New Deal means sustainable jobs, a sustainable future.
Delaney: Carbon tax, return revenues to people, increase green energy research.
Gillibrand: Green New Deal: Tax carbon. Green infrastructure jobs. Clean water.
Klobuchar: Rejoin Paris Climate agreement, reinstate Obama rules, pass legislation.
Booker: Fight gun lobby. Pass background checks and common-sense laws.
Delaney: Universal background checks, assault weapons ban, high-capacity magazine limits.
Gillibrand: Stop gun trafficking. Universal background checks. Ban assault rifles.
Klobuchar: My priority: Pass gun-safety measures like universal background checks.
Social safety net
Booker: Protect our most vulnerable and help lift them up.
Delaney: Expand and stabilize Social Security, universal healthcare, end hunger.
Gillibrand: Protect Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, SNAP, WIC. Expand FMLA.
Klobuchar: Americans should have healthcare, retirement security, and increased minimum wage.
Booker: America is safest, strongest when it leads, invests in allies.
Delaney: Increase foreign aid to improve diplomacy and national security.
Gillibrand: Education and economic opportunities limit risk of war and terrorism.
Klobuchar: I support a smart and strong foreign aid budget.
Booker: Military force is last resort to ensure our national security.
Delaney: New AUMF establishing clear scope and objectives. Restore alliances.
Gillibrand: New AUMF. Strong, smart alliances, strategies, technologies; not endless war.
Harris: My most solemn responsibility will be whether to deploy troops.
Klobuchar: I’ll work with allies for responsible deployment of U.S. troops.
Booker: Reverse trump tax law — invest in education, infrastructure, healthcare, R&D.
Delaney: Reduce deficits, raise revenues, make smart investments for the future.
Gillibrand: Priorities are health care, education, Social Security, infrastructure, job training.
Klobuchar: A responsible budget reflects our values.
Child care and education
Booker: Raise teacher pay, universal pre-K, demand school excellence.
Delaney: Universal PreK-14, paid leave, 0-3 funding, reduce student debt, innovation.
Gillibrand: Paid family leave leader. Universal pre-k, debt-free college, public schools.
Harris: We need universal childcare and investments in schools and teachers.
Klobuchar: I’ll expand affordable childcare and educational opportunities for today’s workforce.
Booker: Support fair trade that lifts workers, protects environment, creates opportunity.
Delaney: Reenter TPP, end trade wars, hold China accountable, AI Strategy.
Gillibrand: Protect American workers and international environment. End Chinese IP stealing.
Harris: Trade war by tweet is hurting Americans. Need fair trade.
Klobuchar: We need fair trade with strong labor and environmental standards.
Booker: Reject Trump’s wall. Reunite separated families. Treat asylum-seekers humanely.
Delaney: Border security as part of comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform.
Gillibrand: Wall is ineffective. Smart border security. Protect asylum seekers, children.
Klobuchar: We need comprehensive immigration reform.
Booker: No one is above the law, especially the President.
Delaney: Restore honesty and competence, uphold the Constitution, unify the country.
Gillibrand: President not above law, nor dictator. Should lead, not divide.
Harris: No president is above the law. Put service over self.
Klobuchar: I believe in the rule of law.