After plenty of political figures officially started their presidential campaigns throughout June, it’s time to sort out the serious contenders from the crazies. A population of informed voters is an absolute necessity for a democratic nation. Getting to know the candidates early is the best way to avoid a last minute choice based solely on name recognition.

The Republican Party presents more than enough candidates from which voters can choose. With Donald Trump and another Bush running, it can be hard to find a candidate to get behind. Luckily, there is Rand Paul. He’s a conservative when it comes to many aspects of governing, yet he’s not afraid to stray from his own party. On the issues of spending and taxes, Paul sticks to conservative ideas of cutting spending and lowering taxes. He is also an adamant supporter of small government and the second amendment. However, liberals can get behind some of the policies Paul supports like encouraging clean energy development, a plan that other candidates including Jeb Bush don’t plan on pursuing. Paul’s strategy to reduce man-made climate change is far better than the skepticism and disbelief other candidates have shown towards an important national and global issue.

Enacting term limits on politicians is another goal of Rand Paul’s presidency. Politicians working to maintain their position in government instead of working for the people undermines the purpose of a democracy. In order to keep politicians working for the people who elected them, Paul’s proposal of term limits might be the needed fix.. Rand Paul also backs policies that would change the justice system by decreasing penalties for non-violent offenders and changing drug possession charges from felonies to misdemeanors. The war on drugs costs the United States billions of dollars each year and it’s been seen as ineffective. The proposed policies aim to greatly reduce government spending on these unsuccessful tactics. On the other hand Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry don’t suggest any changes towards prosecution of low level drug offenses. In no way is Rand Paul the perfect presidential candidate, but he’s the best the GOP has.

For the Democratic Party, one name stands above all others: Hillary Clinton. When she released her book a full year ago, she began prepping the nation for her 2016 presidential campaign. At first glance, her efforts seem to be relying on the fact that she is a woman, and the United States is ready for a female president. As you can expect, Clinton addresses closing the wage gap with the Paycheck Fairness Act, and is the most progressive candidate when it comes to this inequality that still exists in America. However, it’s not the only thing for which her campaign stands. She takes an aggressive stance on climate change, rampant capitalism, and foreign affairs. Unlike one of her close competitors, Bernie Sanders, Clinton has clear views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as pro-Israel, but in support of a two-state solution.

She is the perfect candidate for all age groups as she hopes to make college affordable again, provide childcare for working families, and prevent social security from being cut. Compared to Martin O’Malley, Clinton takes a more moderate stance on NSA surveillance by supporting transparency, which is a reasonable compromise between security and privacy, instead of reforms that could leave the United States vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Even those with no interest in politics could find at least one thing to support in Clinton. The other Democratic candidates make some serious promises too, but more than a few of them seem to be running for voters who simply do not want Clinton. All of the Democratic candidates take very similar stances on most issues, but Clinton’s candidacy represents much more. She stands for greater change as a strong female politician in a male-dominated government, and as potentially the first female president. In that sense, and as a supporter of progressive policies she has more to offer than any of the candidates, Democrats or Republicans.

Featured Picture: The candidates as their respective parties’ mascots. Picture by Jyoti Lama

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