Although the race began with about ten possible candidates, we are now down to simply four.


Why? The majority of candidates run out of financial support and are unable to complete their campaigns. Critics argue that the cost for campaigning allows only the wealthy elite to gain prominent roles in our political system, but little can be done to change this without some serious acts of Congress. To continue, the lucky four left in our game are John Kerry, Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, and John Edwards. Now the unfortunate thing about political platforms is that they are about a million pages long, much more than any average citizen would ever feel eager to read. So, for the sake of time management, I have narrowed them down to the major issues the candidates seem most animate about. John Kerry so far is the frontrunner for the Democratic ticket. Many will say that this lead is due to his military record, extensive media coverage and he just has that presidential look about him. In the New Hampshire primary, the most important state primary because it is simply the first one of the year, he won 38% of the vote. Some issues Kerry feels strongly about include:


~Sexual orientation protected by civil rights laws

~Strongly opposes death penalty

~Favors more federal funding for health programs

~Strongly favors continuing foreign aid to UN, NATO, etc.

~Strongly favors spending resources to stop global warming

~Voted NO on spending international development funds on drug control

~Strongly opposes parents choosing schools via vouchers

~De-americanize Iraq: the exit strategy is victory

And his condensed plan for the economy: I'm going to do what Clinton did. I'm going to cut the deficit in half in the first four years. Clinton's plan was to balance the budget in 10 years, not the five Governor Dean says. The reason we decided not to do it in five was because it required extraordinary cuts in the things we just talked about doing investing in the city of Detroit, investing in our schools, investing in health care, making our economy move.

Source: Democratic Presidential 2004 Primary Debate in Detroit Oct 27, 2003

Howard Dean is the runner-up so far in the primaries with 26% of the votes in the New Hampshire primary. He and his wife run a small medical practice in Vermont where they both serve as physicians. Some of Deans issues include:

~Government should not make personal medical decisions, including abortion

~Global warming is the most important environmental problem we face

~Repair foreign relations by ending Bush arrogance

~Globalization is here to stay but the rules can be changed: In order to make globalization work we also have to globalize worker protection, labor rights, environmental rights and human rights.

~Repeal tax cuts for earners over $200,000

~Opposed Bushs War on Iraq From the Start but now war is started, wishes to Bring 100,000 Muslim troops to replace US troops in Iraq

And Deans opinion on balancing the budget: The president of the United States can't balance a budget. We've not had one Republican president in 34 years balance the budget. You can't trust right-wing Republicans with your money. You ought to hire somebody who has balanced a budget. I'm much more conservative with money than George Bush is.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Debate at St. Anselm College Jan 22, 2004

Next up is John Edwards, the pretty one. His main points are:

~Right to abortion is constitutionally protected.

~Let each state decide about civil unions and gay marriage

~Tax incentives to companies to keep jobs in America

~Death penalty for heinous crimes, but applied fairly

~Voted NO on increasing penalties for drug offenses

~Two school systems: one for the have's, one for have-not's, time to change that

~Bring UN, allies and friends to Iraq

~Children First: insure every child, by law

~Voted for war in Iraq but against $87B-and it's consistent

And how would Edwards balance the budget: We need to balance the need for fiscal responsibility against the need to invest in areas like education and help for working families. I have proposed a series of measures to restore fiscal discipline. We need to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest and restore a tax code that honors work, not wealth. We need to get rid of billions in corporate subsidies. We need to stop wasteful spending that limits our ability to address real priorities.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Debate at St. Anselm College Jan 22, 2004

And last, but certainatly not least, Wesley Clark. Clark tied with Edwards in the New Hampshire primaries with 12% of the popular vote. Clark is a retired four-star general and led US and NATO forces in the 1999 air war in Kosovo, and his platform includes:

~Pro-choice but undecided on partial-birth abortions

~Balance budget by repealing tax cuts to wealthiest Americans

~Strong enforcement of Civil Rights Act including hate crimes

~Gays deserve the same rights as everyone else

~Death penalty for heinous crimes, but apply with safeguards

~Oppose vouchers and all measures that weaken public schools

~Reinvigorate EPA action on environmental justice

~Contribute to democratization in Muslim world.

~Free AND fair trade, with labor and environmental standards

~Supported Iraq war while we were at war now opts transfer authority to Iraq and UN

~Insure children & make all health coverage more affordable

And Clarks plan for the economy: To create the conditions for sustained growth, short-term stimulus measures must be coupled with long-term deficit reduction. My "Saving for America's Future" plan will save $2.35 trillion over 10 years to invest in priorities and cut the deficit, creating the conditions for long-term growth and prosperity.

Source: Campaign website, Clark04.com Nov 20, 2003

So there you have it, the players for a part of the game we like to call American Politics. Hopefully, you now feel informed enough to make an educated decision on whom to support, rather than deciding who would look better on currency. Dont be surprised if after one of these lucky fellows are chosen their platforms begin to become more and more moderate. This is a completely normal strategy used to rope in moderate voters. So if you like one of these candidates, I hope you will become involved in the rarely participated and appreciated American pastime of voting. And if not, at least who can have an educated response to those who disagree with you, nothing annoys them more.