A Quick Guide to the 2024 Presidential Primaries

Not sure who to vote for? Here’s a quick rundown of each candidate and their policies, so you can exert your civic duty responsibly.

10 mins read

With the 2024 Presidential Election coming up in November, the primaries mark an important step in the process of electing our next president by dictating who will appear on the ballot this Fall. Primaries will be happening across the country until late August, and the actual election will occur on November 5th. The most important steps in preparing for this election are getting registered to vote and getting familiar with the candidates and their policies. I hadn’t even considered who I would vote for before writing this article, but researching these candidates helped me refine what policies are important to me. If you feel unhappy with the candidates in your party, or aren’t sure which policies you like, hopefully this article will help you compare their different stances to see with whom you best align. 

There is no shortage of candidates aspiring for the Republican nomination in each state this spring, but the most relevant across the board are Nikki Haley and Donald Trump. These two candidates have been battling for the nomination in states across America, and soon the time will come for the party to pick a favorite. While Haley and Trump share many Republican ideals, they have very different approaches when it comes to actual policy. For example, Trump insists on expanding military funding, but does not support the aid of Ukraine, while, similar to her colleagues across the aisle, Haley would continue aid to Ukraine and Israel. Haley has differing approaches to climate change and abortion as well; Haley recognizes human-caused climate change, but will not take responsibility for it in her policies, and she doesn’t believe in securing abortion rights, but also doesn’t think it should be demonized. It is generally more moderate stances such as these that cause Haley to lose the votes of Strong Right Wing Republicans, but it could win her votes from others instead. Trump, on the other hand, is very clear that he does not support climate initiatives, or immigration, focusing his campaign much more on economic and First Amendment freedoms. It is important to note that neither of them support gun reform.

The Democratic party has less competitive contenders for the nomination, and sitting President Joe Biden will almost certainly be the party’s nominee. Biden’s presidency is fresh on all of our minds, and his campaign focuses are very similar to his focuses these past four years. His main policies are on issues like abortion, the economy, gun reform, LGBTQ+ rights, medicare, and climate change. He has already set forth plans to cut America’s carbon emissions in half and make our power grid carbon free in the next 6 years. He will continue to cut student debt, fund climate initiatives, and finance COVID relief packages, which will help millions of Americans, but also majorly impact our economy. It is important to be aware of recent inflation rates and how these initiatives have arguably increased them. He also continues his support for Israel and Ukraine. 

As the incumbent (current sitting president), Biden has the advantage in this election. However, if you don’t align with his policies, there are a few other Democratic candidates worth considering. For voters who are very passionate about climate change initiatives, Marianne Williamson is likely the strongest candidate in this arena, since her campaign is largely centered around protecting the environment, and allocating more resources to fostering world peace. Her most unique policy would be her proposal to create a Department of Peace and a four-year Peace Academy, modeled after the various military academies, but with the goal of achieving world peace through diplomacy rather than war. This aligns with her sympathy for both Israel and Palestine, and her call for peace in the Middle East. Unfortunately, although her policies are unique, they lack foundation and details, turning them into idyllic promises that likely won’t pan out during a four year term.

Dean Phillips, another Democratic contender, currently represents Minnesota in the U.S. House, and carries the issues for which he has already advocated into his Presidential campaign. His major focuses are the economy, responsible gun ownership, medicare access for all, and helping immigrants achieve citizenship. His passion for accessible health care is inspired by the health issues his daughter has had and their family struggle. It is important to note that while he supports gun reform, he is a gun owner himself, so his stance focuses more on responsible gun ownership, rather than eradicating guns in general. 

If the candidates in either party don’t appeal to you, there is a diverse group of Independents running in this election as well. While some independents, such as Cornel West, an extremely well educated and involved activist, have policies that are strictly idealistic, others propose genuinely important solutions that aren’t being put forth by Democrats or Republicans. Robert F. Kennedy Junior – yes, the same family of Kennedys – for example, has proposed practical and well-developed plans to address issues such as illegal immigration and the crisis at the Southern Border by hiring more asylum judges to expedite the approval process while also improving security at commonly-exploited border-crossing points. His plan is much more compassionate than Trump’s wall, but also more regulated than Biden’s immigration policy. Kennedy originally ran for the Democratic nomination before declaring himself as an Independent candidate, because some of his views don’t align with the party, such as his stance against vaccines.

Jill Stein is a third-party candidate who is running for the Green Party, and her main focuses are on improving the health of Americans and the planet. If climate change is an issue that is very important to you, Stein is likely a good candidate. Cornel West, as I mentioned before, is a very inspiring candidate, because his campaign focuses on justice and makes many great points, but his policies are unrealistic and more based on ideals rather than practical solutions. Some of his better policies, though, include eliminating coverage gaps to qualify for affordable housing and creating a national gun registry database for all citizens. Importantly, he is very pro-Palestine and would cease giving military aid to Ukraine, which is where his views most differ from that of the Democratic party. These are just a few of the many independent and third-party candidates who offer voters an option outside of the two-party system.

Although the Electoral College can often make it feel like your vote doesn’t matter, I promise you it does. The candidate you choose to represent this country holds a lot of weight. Currently, the leading candidates are Trump and Biden, but voters shouldn’t feel like they are trapped into reliving the same presidential race from four years ago. There are a multitude of qualified candidates hoping to have your vote in November, and in order to remain true to our democracy, we must vote based on policy rather than party. These are just a few candidates and a sample of their policies, so I would encourage you to look further into anyone who interests you. Your vote matters, so use it, and use it wisely!

Register to vote here!


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