Representative Bynum Reviews Candidates

Representative Janelle Bynum

Representative Janelle Bynum

Phoenix Smith, Reporter

With the 2020 presidential election honing in and still many Democratic contenders left in the race, stories filled with each contrasting candidates’ proposals and ideas are flooding the news every day. When observing each one of these candidates’ ideas and beliefs, it appears the Democratic party has shifted more left, becoming more progressive, with proposed changes involving healthcare, climate change, and gun control, since n the last presidential election in 2016.  

One of the biggest topics being discussed throughout the political debates in American healthcare, and there has been increasing support of Medicare-for-all from Democratic candidates. In contrast to the 2016 election, where only Bernie Sanders supported a single-payer system, 12 of the 19 Democratic candidates now support Medicare-for-all in 2019. This is not the only topic to suggest a more progressive shift in Democratic ideology. Another issue pressing the Democratic primary is climate change. Since the last election there has been increasing concern for the environment, and many ideas on how to help; the most ambitious and controversial of these ideas being the Green New Deal. 12 of the Democratic candidates have expressed support for this Green New Deal, only 4 opposing the policy. Along with supporting the Green New Deal, these candidates have pledged far more money and time towards combating climate change, in comparison to previous elections, representing a change in priorities among Democrats. The party has also become more united and forceful on gun control, another topic being prioritized in the primary.

Along with shifting more to the left, the Democratic party has become more diverse in recent years. Janelle Bynum, the representative of Oregon’s 51st district, explains she has noticed a more open atmosphere among democrats, especially in this recent presidential race. She has seen this, especially with the candidates themselves since there are more women, people of color, and even an openly gay man running for president. When asked how her own views had shifted since the beginning of her career, Bynum explained that she had also become more open. Since being involved in politics, she had often worked with people of many different views and opinions and was sometimes hesitant to share her experiences as a woman of color. But, as time has progressed, and people’s views have become more open and accepting, she has become more open with sharing her experiences.

While the democratic party may appear to be experiencing a more radical shift when looking at mainstream news, State Representative Janelle Bynum, who represents constituents in the Happy Valley area,  warns that “it is just a lot of noise.” She explains that the candidates represent the extremes of the party, whereas most people, like her, are more moderate democrats. Bynum, like the majority of American citizens, just want Democrats and Republicans to “focus more on outcomes, rather than ideologies” and wants to remind people that although it may seem we have drifted into a moral abyss, it is pertinent to concentrate on the soul and character of our country. Janelle Bynum does not necessarily categorize becoming more progressive as becoming more open and does not think that the Democratic party appearing more progressive is a good thing, as it creates a larger divide between the two political parties.