Heated Debate Continues as Field of Democratic Candidates Narrows

Katie Buelt, Features Editor

As we continue to spiral into the uncharted territory of the coronavirus pandemic, it is easy to lose track of all other political matters– namely, the ongoing Democratic Primaries and a presidential election mere months away. In recent weeks, several of big names dropped out of the race, including Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. With the field cleared, former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders are the only remaining top-tier candidates vying for the chance to go head-to-head against Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential election.

Despite being of the same political party, Biden and Sanders have vastly different opinions on a number of issues. On the highly controversial topic of healthcare, Sanders has argued that Medicare for All is an essential pillar of democracy. Biden, meanwhile, argues that Americans with private health insurance should be able to stay on their plans, and also plans to expand upon the Affordable Care Act in order to give Americans a public healthcare option. Both candidates have advocated to increase the minimum wage; however, Sanders has taken his wealth equality plan a step further, proposing increased taxes for the rich. Sanders has also gained attention for his education plans, which would make all public universities free and put a virtual end to student debt. In a less radical move, Biden would make eliminate tuition for community colleges. The one issue that Biden and Sanders appear to see face to face on is the topic that remains of the forefront of everyone’s minds– the coronavirus. Both have called for paid sick leave for those who contract the illness and an increase in the availability of testing.

For democratic voters, the choice isn’t easy. Many see Biden as a safe option that will allow them to win back the White House, and while they see the appeal of Sanders’s more progressive ideology, the economic risks of such policies remain unknown. In recent polling, it seems voters have chosen the safe route: an NBC News survey found that Biden has an approval rating of 61 percent among likely primary voters, while Sanders lags behind at only 32 percent. Previous voting records show the same pattern; Biden currently has 871 of the 1,991 delegates needed to win the nomination, while Sanders trails him with 719. Despite Biden’s large lead, his victory isn’t set in stone yet, and the candidates will have to push forward as they fight for their place as leader of our country.