Election 2020

Some of the commonly used terms in public discussions of the 2020 presidential election can be confusing. In order to better educate ourselves and our membership, we have created a glossary of terms that you may hear this year. By providing context for each term, this glossary will help you have transformative conversations about this election and advance NETWORK’s 2020 Policy Platform.

Public Option

Some Democratic presidential candidates, including Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, and Michael Bloomberg, proposed creating a government-funded health insurance plan, which would compete with private insurers on the health care market. According to its supporters, this “public option” would expand health coverage for millions of people without disrupting the U.S. health care system. Access to quality, affordable health care for all is a fundamental human right. A Public Option is one method to ensure this right.

Single-Payer Health Care System

A “single-payer” health care system provides health care coverage to all residents by requiring a single government entity to subsidize all essential health care costs. Under some single-payer systems, such as United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), health care is “free at the point of use,” meaning that residents don’t pay out-of-pocket to visit most doctors. Access to quality, affordable health care for all is a fundamental human right. A Single Payer System is one method to ensure this right.

Medicare for All

Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren supported “Medicare for All” (S. 1129), or expanding Medicare to cover all U.S. residents. According to its proponents, Medicare for All would guarantee health coverage to all U.S. residents while saving taxpayers billions of dollars absorbed by private insurers. If enacted, Medicare for All would create a single-payer health care system. Access to quality, affordable health care for all is a fundamental human right. Medicare for All is one method to ensure this right.

Green New Deal

The Green New Deal is a 10-year plan designed to combat climate change, environmental racism, and economic inequality while moving the U.S. towards 100% renewable energy, net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, and universal employment. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced the Green New Deal into Congress (H.R. 109 & S. Res 59) in close collaboration with The Sunrise Movement, a youth-led environmental justice group. Besides creating millions of state-sponsored jobs, the Green New Deal calls for investing in electric cars, high-speed rail systems, clean manufacturing, energy efficient buildings, water purification systems, and ecological preservation. Additionally, the Green New Deal advocates for guaranteed utility service to all U.S. residents. When we advocate for the environment, we advocate ending many of the economic disparities in our world.

Free College

Some Democratic presidential candidates proposed reducing or eliminating tuition at public colleges and universities, claiming this would make higher education more accessible for low and middle-income students. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren supported eliminating tuition at every public college or university in the United States. Joe Biden supported making 2-year community colleges tuition-free. All candidates would fund these reforms by closing tax loopholes and ensuring that the wealthy pay their fair share.

Wealth Tax

Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Julián Castro advocated for implementing a “wealth tax,” or an annual tax on extremely wealthy individuals’ assets minus their debts. According to its supporters, a wealth tax would reduce income inequality and increase the federal government’s revenue. The concept of a progressive tax system, where those who benefit most also contribute the most, is the most just way to collect taxes. As Pope Francis said, “Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy. It is a moral obligation.”

Universal Basic Income (UBI)

Universal Basic Income is a form of social security, which guarantees a minimum income to all citizens, regardless of employment status or personal income. Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang supported implementing a UBI in the United States, arguing that the federal government should pay every U.S. adult citizen $1,000 each month. UBI proponents claim this policy would increase productivity, reduce demand for state-funded social services, and offer relief to workers whose jobs will be automated in the upcoming decades. Catholic Social Justice supports an economy that puts people, not profit, at the center, where every person can provide for their family.

Election Process:

Democratic National Convention (DNC)

The Democratic National Convention (DNC) is a presidential nominating convention held every four years. At the DNC, Democratic delegates nominate a Democratic presidential candidate and party officials adopt a comprehensive party platform. The DNC will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in August 2020.

Republican National Convention (RNC)

The Republican National Convention (RNC) is a presidential nominating convention held every four years. At the RNC, Republican delegates nominate a Republican presidential candidate and party officials adopt a comprehensive party platform. The RNC will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina in August 2020.

Pledged Delegates

Pledged delegates are representatives who vote for a presidential candidate at the DNC or RNC. These delegates are “pledged” because they represent particular states, territories, or congressional districts—they must vote in accordance with their state, territory, or congressional district, as determined by primary contests. In 2020, approximately 83% of the 4,750 delegates at the DNC are “pledged” (3, 979), while approximately 95% of the 2,550 delegates at the RNC are “pledged” (2,443).

Super Delegates

Super delegates are party leaders who vote for a Democratic presidential candidate at the DNC. A mixture of Democratic politicians, former presidents, and party leaders, super delegates vote according to their personal preferences, rather than the will of voters. In 2020, approximately 17% of the 4,750 delegates at the DNC are “super delegates” (771).

Due to recent rule changes, super delegates do not vote in the DNC’s first presidential ballot. If no Democratic nominee wins more than 50% of the pledged delegates in the first ballot, then super delegates and pledged delegates vote in the second ballot.