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A presentation in the Honors College and International Center held Thursday afternoon informed students, faculty and others about 2020 presidential candidates and their views on socialism and capitalism.

A crowd gathered on the first floor of HCIC Tuesday afternoon for a presentation entitled “Capitalism vs. Socialism in the 2020 Presidential Race: Where do the candidates stand?” from Brian Strow, a professor in the economics department. Following the presentation was a question and answer portion, led by Roger Murphy, an associate professor in the political science department.

The presentation was put on by the WKU BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism and the WKU Political Engagement Project and was introduced by Saundra Ardrey, who currently serves as head of WKU’s African American Studies department.

“This is an opportunity to get some additional information to inform your decisions about whom to vote for,” Ardrey said.

The 229th anniversary of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution is Sept. 19, Ardrey said. To recognize the day, she said there is a week of events at WKU known as "Constitution Week." 

Strow defined a few economic terms, such as individual autonomy, private property and free market, for the crowd to refresh their memories. He then presented "grades" for presidential candidates on a 25-point scale based on their viewpoints on economic issues such as the Green New Deal, big tech regulation and the weaponization of tariffs.

Based on their stance on each issue, candidates gained points - the closer they were to zero, the more capitalist Stowe classified them. The closer they were to 25, the more socialist. 

 The rankings were as follows:

        Donald Trump | 6.5

        Joe Biden | 7.5

        Beto O’Rourke | 7.5

        Andrew Yang  | 9.25

        Pete Buttigieg | 9.75

        Cory Booker | 10.75

        Kamala Harris | 11.25

        Julien Castro | 12.5

        Tulsi Gabbard | 13.5

        Elizabeth Warren |18.5

        Bernie Sanders | 19.7

“There are no pure capitalist or socialist running for president,” Strow said.

Freshman international affairs and Chinese major Olivia Blackmon took notes as she learned from both the presenters and other students.

“I can see the complexity of each individual candidate’s stance, that they’re not just on one side for everything and that while there’s a difference between Republican and Democratic themes, that’s not always the same as socialism vs. capitalism,” Blackmon said.

Blackmon, who will be voting for the first time in the upcoming election, explained that she came to the Constitution Day presentation because she’s new to politics and wanted to know more about the candidates.

“I feel like it shows that students being engaged in the political process, not just voting that the way their parents or friends vote, is something really important to our democracy,” Blackmon said.

News reporter Abbey Nutter can be reached at 270-745-6011 and abbigail.nutter168@topper.wku.edu. Follow her on Twitter at @abbeynutter.