2020 Presidential Race Heats Up

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren
Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren

This article appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of the Massachusetts Peace Action newsletter

The progressive struggle against the Trump Administration’s assault on democracy, the environment, immigrants, women, the working class, and many foreign countries continues to escalate. Democrats have taken control of the House and the “squad” of four progressive women of color has boldly stepped forward to confront racism, reaction, and timidity.

Young people are rising up by the millions to demand immediate action on climate change, and to push forward a Green New Deal. A vibrant new movement has gathered at the border and throughout the country insisting on justice for immigrants fleeing their homes.

Opposition to our endless wars and interventions ordered by presidents without Congressional approval has begun to gain some traction in Congress.

In this context, 26 candidates entered the Democratic primary, 18 are still running, and at least a few have presented a somewhat less hawkish approach to foreign policy.

Massachusetts Peace Action endorsed Bernie Sanders in 2016, and he has made his antiwar positions far more specific in his run for the 2020 nomination. At the speech announcing his candidacy, he made cutting the war budget to use the money to meet domestic needs a central theme. He has consistently named the military-industrial complex one of the corporate power centers the people will need to organize against to achieve an economy that works for all of us.

Bernie has opposed every proposed military intervention and is proposing to use US military aid as leverage to force Israel to desist from human rights abuses. In the Senate this year, Bernie led the successful struggle to pass a War Powers Resolution preventing US military cooperation with the Saudi/UAE war on Yemen, although Congress failed to overturn Trump’s veto. And at CNN’s Climate Town Hall, he proposed that Russia, China, and the US sit down together and discuss whether the $1.5 trillion they are collectively spending on military confrontation could be better used to address the climate emergency.

Elizabeth Warren is another top-polling candidate who is better than most on peace issues. She filed and led on a bill for no first use of nuclear weapons.  She has also made it clear she would favor some cuts in the military budget, and has opposed US involvement in Yemen. Yet, unlike Sanders, she voted for most of the military budgets and has chosen advisors from the foreign policy establishment.

Tulsi Gabbard has earned the support of some peace activists because she is the only candidate in the race who emphasizes her opposition to regime-change wars and makes it her primary campaign issue.

Massachusetts Peace Action and national Peace Action are currently evaluating the candidates and deciding whether to make an endorsement in the 2020 Presidential race.

For further reading on the Democratic candidates’ foreign policy positions, see National Peace Action’s overview at www.peaceaction.org/positions/, and its 2020 Foreign Policy Platform at www.peaceaction.org/platform/.

—Cole Harrison is the executive director of Mass. Peace Action.