by Elizabeth McGinn ’21
Although the 2020 presidential election is over a year away, it is of paramount importance that voters pay close attention to the race and all of its candidates.
While the Democratic debates began in June 2019, last week’s debates showed who the top contenders are. Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders take the top spots for polling, while Harris, Buttigieg, O’Rourke, and Booker continue to garner interest.
For Democrats and independents, careful viewing of the Democratic debates is crucial for an informed decision in the primaries. Watching the debates, reading the candidates’ policies, and perhaps even looking at their Twitter pages can provide insight into which candidate to vote for.
On Feb. 3, the first caucus will occur in Iowa, which will greatly narrow the field for the Democratic candidates. Super Tuesday is on March 3, which includes Maine and Massachusetts. Rhode Island, New York, and Connecticut primaries will be held on April 28.
While the primaries occur in a few months, Americans should begin to prepare. Voter registration before the actual primaries and election is required for participation. Those who will be out of their hometowns during the primaries must request and complete an absentee ballot.
Voters from any party should keep a close eye on all the candidates, including incumbent President Donald Trump. Civic engagement is necessary for the functioning of American democracy, and voting is the best way to participate in democracy.
Students in particular have a duty to make an informed decision and vote. The policies of the current and next presidents will have the most direct effect on the younger generations of Americans. Ironically, the elderly historically have a higher voter turnout than the youth.
While the running of the country is in the hands of the president, engaging in politics is the best way to impact the future of America. By paying attention now, voters can choose the best possible path for the country.
by Andrea Traietti ’21
While it is important to remain politically conscious at all times, regardless of election cycle or time of year, it is too early to devote too much attention to the 2020 race. With the rounds of Democratic debates in the past few months, it is definitely important that voters remain aware of the main issues and key players as well as and what is at stake in this election.
But investing too much in the process at this point could hurt more than it helps for three reasons: it is too early for accurate polling; early debates take away from the creation of a united Democratic front; and it leaves the door open to a sort of political burnout on the part of voters.
First, polls in the 2016 election had Hillary Clinton as the frontrunner right up until the end. If the polls were not accurate in the weeks and even days leading up to the election, how accurate could they be a whole year out, before the primaries have even occurred? Polling this early leads people to the wrong conclusions, and for people who see polls that already have their personal choice first, it might discourage participation.
Second, the Democratic debates at this point have been a lot of noise and not a lot of actual content. Right now, candidates are willing to say whatever crazy or heated statement will get them the most press. It often distracts from the real issues at hand, and even worse, it creates unnecessary animosity in a party that needs unity now more than ever. If the Democrats cannot stand firmly behind one candidate, President Trump will be reelected.
Lastly, the early polling combined with Democratic bickering is a recipe for political burnout. It is next to impossible to keep up with ever-changing and conflicting poll information, and it is equally challenging to not get bogged down in the inflammatory rhetoric of the early debates.
In the end, it is not that voters should not be paying attention, it is that investing too much too early in the process could yield negative results. Jumping in just a bit later in the process still leaves time for voters to make an informed and educated decision. For now, focusing on the bigger picture and on current events ensures that voters will be ready to give their full attention to 2020 as we get closer to the election.