Assessing the Candidates Running for the Presidential Nomination of the Democratic Party

Memorandum No. 3

One of the most significant elections in the United States of America is the one that voters of this young nation select as president. Since the early development of the United States, the office of the presidency has evolved into one of the most influential branches of the U.S. government. Given the immense power and control the electorate bestows (both directly and indirectly) upon that office, it would behoove every U.S. citizen to participate in the political process. However, Census Bureau records show that the voter population turns out only partially during each election cycle (File 3). Experts have offered several theories to explain the discrepancy between the numbers of those who are able to vote and the numbers of those who actually vote.

This memorandum will not contribute to the discussion of the alarmingly decreasing rate of voter attendance in U.S. elections. Rather, in an effort to rally voters to action, and at a time when the 2020 general elections is fast approaching, I have determined to draft this memorandum; it will primarily serve as a personal guide to understand the candidates running for the presidential nomination for the Democratic Party. The hoped end-state is I will become more self-assured in my decision on who ought to be the 46th president of the United States. My other hope is individuals who stumble upon this paper will find motivation to make their convictions known at the polling stations come Nov. 3, 2020 (Almukhtar, Sarah, Jonathan Martin and Matt Stevens).


The assessment will concentrate on the candidates competing in the Democratic primaries. The Democratic National Convention will take place in July 13-20, 2020 (Verhovek). I anticipate I must reach a final decision soon in order to give myself sufficient time to organize on behalf someone who I deem should succeed the 45th U.S. president, Donald J. Trump.

I will not endorse President Trump due to national security concerns stemming from a 2017 report published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and a 2016 joint statement by the Department of Homeland Security. Both of these organizations assert that the Russian Federation (by order of their head of state, President Vladimir V. Putin) interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections to aid Mr. Trump’s campaign. A U.S. Department of Justice investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III reinforces the aforementioned findings in the first volume of his “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election” (Mueller III).

Potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia aside, rejecting Mr. Trump is principally a symbolic refusal, which affirms the individual sovereignty of the United States. The Grand Old Party (GOP) or the Republican Party has exhibited inconsistent behavior in condemning foreign influence in the 2016 U.S. elections (actual or potential). Due to such irregularity, I have decided that I will not examine the primary candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination. However, I will compare both the Democratic and Republican candidates after the Republican National Convention (RNC) and DNC have selected their runners for the 2020 presidential race—in all likelihood, Mr. Trump and Vice President Michael R. Pence will win the Republican presidential ticket.



I will divide the time available between publication of this memorandum and Nov. 3, 2020 into three phases of analysis. The first phase or “preliminary round” will form the initial review of every viable contender in the Democratic primaries, followed by the semi-final round, and then the final round. The preliminary round will cover the months from September to December of 2019. By Jan. 1, 2020, I will have chosen which Democratic nominee should challenge the Republican nominee for president. The semi-final round will cover the months from January to July 2020. During the semi-final round, I will continue evaluating every Democratic candidate running in the primaries, but I will do so while publicly advocating for one of the candidates. The comparative analysis during this phase will revolve around the candidate I have announced to support.

As of Sep. 27, 2019, 20 people are running for the Democratic presidential nomination. For the duration of the preliminary round, I will only focus on those candidates who have qualified for the DNC-sanctioned debates. 12 people have qualified to participate in the Oct. 15 debate in Westerville, Ohio. I highlight these 15, because nationwide polls and donor contributions suggest they have a chance at winning the White House in 2020. With each passing month of the semi-final round (approximately six months), I will eliminate one candidate on my list of consideration each week. By April 2020, only one will emerge as the candidate to support. Between April and July 2020, I will employ my personal resources and time to promote a single candidate and their campaign. Upon the conclusion of the DNC and RNC (or the beginning of the final round), I will compare both teams by implementing the same types of analyses I used in the preliminary and semi-final rounds.

The Foundation

Determining which Democratic candidate to elect into the Oval Office is an exercise in self-reflection. I cannot arrive at an adjudication without dissecting the very values that inform me as a voter. Additionally, I cannot construct a framework for selecting the next president without thoroughly understanding the role of the executive branch. Therefore, I will discuss the powers and functions of the executive branch, in the hopes of constructing a rubric for grading the Democratic primary candidates.

To begin with the citation of Section 2 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution (I will briefly skip Section 1): “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.” The law designates the president as the leader of the U.S. military. As such, the American electorate would find the occasion behooving to ponder whether a person seeking the highest public office possesses any attributes formally recognized by the military service. The following paragraph of the same section also states, “He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.” This provision explains the president’s executive powers established in Section 1. In less explicit terms, the Constitution defines the president as chief diplomat of the United States. As chief diplomat, the president must represent the United States and her interests before foreign entities. The second paragraph of Section 2 suggests the president must also serve as chief executive by appointing ambassadors, heads of departments, justices, etc. to ensure operations of the executive branch.

Moving forward, Section 3 of Article II of the Constitution establishes a legal requirement for the president to address the elected officials of the United States on the endeavors and progress of the republic. “He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” The utility of the State of the Union address suggests the president must fulfill two fundamental responsibilities: the president must be accountable to the people, and the president must offer a vision or plan of action to lead the country.

The person who leads the country in such a capacity is the president. As declared in Section 1, the role of executive is the chief purpose of the presidency, “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” Sections 2 and 3 expand upon the meaning of those executive powers. Truly, the presidency is one of the vaguest yet prominent occupations known to humanity. Various organizations have already theorized at length the de facto and de jure obligations of the presidency. The Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History, through the Behring Center, has published an educational webpage titled “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden”, which lists seven official jobs of the president. However, for the sake of brevity, I will focus only on those requirements clearly expressed by the Constitution. Those requirements are as follows: chief executive, commander in chief, and chief diplomat.


I am a soldier of the U.S. Army. During my time in the service, I have become familiar with the Army’s philosophy on leadership. Many of the ideas of leadership taught by the Army are applicable to the conduct of the commander in chief. To help achieve the end-state of this memorandum, I will utilize two publications: Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 6-22 or “Army Leadership and the Profession” and Army Regulation (A.R.) 623-3 or “Evaluation Reporting System”.

So that I may more easily account for the various accomplishments and personalities of each candidates participating in the 2020 presidential election, I will implement the leadership concepts theorized in ADP 6-22. According to ADP 6-22, an Army leader (by extension the president) should possess the following attributes: character, presence, and intellect. A leader should also accomplish the following competencies: lead, develop, and achieve. Based on this leadership doctrine and the different jobs of the presidency discussed above, I have built a matrix of analysis. Table 1 below displays the matrix.

Table 1

The Presidency and Army Leadership Doctrine

The matrix will serve as a scorecard. I will allot points from zero to two. A point of zero in one box shows a candidate has not satisfactorily exercised or exhibited an attribute or competency. One point signifies a candidate has sufficiently done so. Two points: the candidate has exceeded in their demonstration. I will not award any points until after I have supplemented a diagnostic justification of the candidates’ documented experiences in each category.

A.R. 623-3 provides guidance on how rating superior officers and noncommissioned officers (NCO) are supposed to evaluate soldiers for purposes of appointment, promotion, or retention. Most importantly, A.R. 623-3 teaches the principle of considering an individual’s potential. Since no candidate has ever been a member of the executive branch—with the exception of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.—I am not just looking at the candidates’ resume, but also at their potential to be the next chief executive, commander in chief, and chief diplomat.

Table 1 counts for one of two matrices in this experiment. The second metric I will be using will measure the extent to which each candidate has thought about and treated different concerns facing the United States. The second model, titled “The Candidate’s Stance” will operate under the same point system as the first. Table 2 below displays the second matrix.

Table 2

The Candidate’s Stance

A point of zero indicates a candidate has no experience with handling an issue, and either has no plan or has offered an unrealistic solution. One point means a candidate has submitted a detailed proposal of what they would do to resolve a specific problem, even though they have little-to-no experience on the matter. Two points: a candidate boasts both a thorough plan of action and a consistent record of tackling said issue. I will endorse the candidate with the most points of both matrices combined. I will assign or remove topics as time progresses. A candidate with a low grade resulting from a point of zero in multiple components will no longer be a member of this process.

Information Collection

For this task, I need my knowledge of the candidates to be up-to-date as much as possible. To prevent the sheer volume of available information from overwhelming me, I will only refer to those materials cited in my “Official Open-Source Information Collection” and “Acceptable Sources” memoranda.


I will tally the score of those candidates who have qualified for the DNC-approved debates. I will officially announce whose campaign I will join by the beginning of 2020. I will contact the local campaign offices of the candidate I have chosen to support. I will contribute personal attention and capital to that candidate’s campaign. I will advocate for that candidate until they have ascended to the office of the presidency of the United States of America. I will study their tenure in power as closely as possible.

Works Cited

Almukhtar, Sarah, Jonathan Martin and Matt Stevens. “2020 Presidential Election Calender.” The New York Times, Accessed 17 Sep. 2019.

File, Thom. “Characteristics of Voters in the Presidential Election of 2016.” Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau, Sep. 2018.

Verhovek, John. “Milwaukee chosen as 2020 Democratic National Convention site.” American Broadcasting Company (ABC), Accessed 24 Sep. 2019.

“Joint Statement from the Department Of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security.” Department of Homeland Security, 7 Oct. 2016,

Mueller III, Robert. “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference Ini The 2016 Presidential Election.” Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, March 2019.

Schaul, Kevin. “Who has qualified for the fourth Democratic debate.” The Washington Post, Accessed 27 Sep. 2019.

U.S. Constitution. Article II.

Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 6-22. “Army Leadership and the Profession.” July 2019. Washington D.C.

Army Regulation (A.R.) 623-3. “Evaluating Reporting System.” June 2019. Washington D.C.

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