With two major candidates left in the race against President Trump, it’s important to ask — how did the remaining candidates get to where they are today, and what prompts an individual to run for president?
Running for president is something many people have considered an opportunity only available for the most elite — those who have been in politics for years and have worked to serve their country on a variety of issues. We assume that they went to Harvard or Yale, studied law and political science and are so eloquently spoken we wouldn’t know what to say in their presence. But now, more everyday citizens are running for president — so when does the narrative change? As politics become increasingly more homegrown, so do the stories of the individuals who chose to run for president. Their stories are unique and have defined who they are as people, as well as who they are as politicians.
Bernie Sanders was born in Brooklyn, New York on Sept. 8, 1941. His parents faced financial struggles throughout his adolescence, which resulted in income inequality. This became one of the key political issues he is fighting against. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Chicago and got involved in the civil rights movement unfolding at the time. Sanders was a participant in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom march and is a firm believer in equality for all.
Sanders was led into electoral politics through his participation in the anti-Vietnam War movement and first ran as an independent before later caucusing with Democrats. Early on in his political career, he voted against the Iraq War and heavily opposed tax exemptions for large and wealthy corporations. After winning a seat in the U.S. Senate, he heavily advocated for tax reform and took a progressive stance on climate change and immigration.
Sanders’ support for social issues, such as the reproductive rights and the LGBTQ+ rights movement, have granted him heavy support from young voters who want to see a drastic change in the American government. Although some see his policies as teetering on the edge of socialism, many young Americans want to see him win — even adopting the phrase “feel the Bern” to show their support.
Sanders has a strong stance on universal healthcare, which would offer medicare to all and eliminate the need for private insurers. He views Trump’s immigration policies as heartless and supports comprehensive immigration reform.
Overall, Sanders is known as the most progressive and liberal of all of the Democratic candidates, particularly because of his stances on tax reform and tax cuts for the lower and middle class.
Joe Biden was born in Pennsylvania on Nov. 20, 1942. He grew up in the small town of Scranton and had rather humble beginnings with a father who worked as a used car salesman. His parents were extremely hard workers, and he credits them with giving him a strong work ethic.
Biden attended the University of Delaware where he studied history and political science. Like many young men in college, Biden admitted that he spent his first two years of college much more interested in girls, football and parties than anything else. His political career truly began with the inauguration of John F. Kennedy in 1961, which sparked an interest in politics.
According to Biden, he was a rather poor student in law school and failed a class because he forgot to “properly cite a reference to a law review article.” In the early ’70s, he worked as a councilman and started his own law firm. Then, in 1972 he ran for the U.S. Senate and won, becoming the fifth-youngest U.S. Senator in American history.
Despite his overwhelming political successes, Biden faced tragedy in Dec. 1972 when a car crash killed his wife and daughter and severely injured both of his sons. Regardless of this life-altering event, he persevered and served in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 2009.
While serving as vice president to Barack Obama, one of Biden’s signature issues was healthcare. He assisted in the passage of the Affordable Care Act. As someone who deeply understood tragic medical issues and the tolls they can take on a family, Biden has stated that healthcare is a personal issue to him. He worked very well alongside former president Barack Obama and their friendship through his presidency has benefitted Biden with Obama supporters.
It takes a dedicated and unique individual to run for president and an especially dedicated individual to make it this far in the race. Individuals who were originally considered to be front runners, such as Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bloomberg, have been forced to drop out of the race, leaving Sanders and Biden as the final two candidates. Will Biden be able to “Battle for the Soul of the Nation,” will we “Feel the Bern” or will we “Make American Great Again”? On Nov. 3, we will find out.