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What you should know ahead of the next DNC Debate + Ways to Stay Informed

woman putting up signboard encouraging people to vote. similar to upcoming dnc debate

Image via Pinterest–original source unknown.

After I wrote this post commenting on gun violence in 2017 (only to have to update it and re-publish it last month) I knew it was time to take the leap and start using this platform not just to talk about cute sweaters, Trader Joe’s, or skincare products–but for inspiring and fostering real change that can make our world a better place. 

If I think of myself as a true “lifestyle blogger”–then I should be covering politics at a top-line level, because politics are a huge part of LIFE. Being politically aware and involved can easily get dismissed when we feel like “we’re too busy to watch the news” or “we don’t know enough to make an informed voting decision anyway.” (Believe me, I’ve been there.)

I voiced this sentiment to Kendall (my new editorial manager, if you missed that announcement!) and we both agreed that there was a way to do this that could greatly benefit readers on both sides of the aisle. I’m excited that we will both be contributing to these articles! 

Our Goal

Our goal is NOT to get overly political. The beauty of this country is that we have the freedom to choose who we vote for. The point of these posts are to help you become more informed (and if you wish, more involved) while balancing everything else you have going on in your life. To remind everyone that their voice matters and that there are things we can all do (big and small) to initiate change and make this country a better place for our children. 

The media, politics and frankly the world right now, can seem very polarized, and I want to use this platform and engage in this community to share resources, understand varying perspectives and ultimately, help us all to become more informed and politically-aware citizens.

As election season picks up, there is more and more news and noise each day, and I think it’s important to be informed and confidently know where you stand on big issues. These posts aim to help achieve that — what you need to know, tips for how to incorporate news and politics into your daily life, places to find out more and a community to engage in dialogue.

With the upcoming Democratic debate tomorrow, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to start! Regardless of which party you affiliate with, it’s important to get to know the people who are running for president — and what they have to say about the hot-button issues that our country currently faces.


A lot has happened since the last DNC debate on July 31. Note- it will broadcast on ABC and Univision. You can also live-stream it here. Here’s an overview:


When: Sept. 12 from 8 to 11 p.m. ET.

Where: Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas

What: Each candidate will have one minute and 15 seconds to directly respond to questions from moderators and 45 seconds to respond to follow-up questions and rebuttals. Candidates will give opening statements, but no closing statements.

Who: A much smaller group than last time, and the first time that all the top candidates will be on stage at once. To qualify for this DNC debate round, each candidate had to earn: 1.) 2% or more support in at least four DNC-approved polls between June 28- Aug.28), 2.) At least 130,000 unique donors (with 400 unique donors per state in at least 20 states). Here’s who made the cut. You can click on any of their names and it will take you to their campaign sites to learn more about their stances! 

*Note- there are 10 other democratic candidates still running that didn’t qualify for the debate.


And how to quickly research them ahead of time

Of course, there are many important topics that will arise in the next DNC debate, but here are some big ones to anticipate and research ahead of time if you haven’t had time to do so yet: 

Climate change

Expect this topic to continue to dominate the election conversation. Most especially as this DNC debate comes in the wake of disastrous Hurricane Dorian. More globally — the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Summit is later this month on Sept. 23. UN Secretary Antonio Guterres is calling on all leaders to come to the summit with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally-determined contributions by 2020. This is in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 455 over the next decade and to net zero emissions by 2050. Needless to say, presidential candidates will have thoughts on how they plan to tackle climate change. This Vox article gives a good overview of how each candidate is approaching the topic. 

Gun control 

Similarly, gun violence will continue to be one of the largest issues discussed among candidates in the upcoming DNC debate. Several mass shootings have occurred just since the last debate, including the El Paso shooting on Aug. 3 that killed 22 people and injured 24 — the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. this year. A stat to note: 53 people died in U.S. mass shootings in Aug. alone.

It’s also important to consider the fact that mass shootings, while horrific, are only a tiny portion of the gun violence problem in this country right now–resulting in just 2% of gun-related deaths in the US. (The majority being homicide and suicides). 

For more info: check out Gun Violence Archive for free, public access to accurate information about U.S. gun-related violence. 


Ah, health care. The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that the current health care system isn’t working. But, unfortunately, there is no shortage of disagreement over which solutions are best. Expect candidates to touch on the role private insurance should play and how they plan on keeping health care costs down — especially prescription drugs. NPR has a great overview on where each democratic candidate stands on this issue.


These days, it’s difficult to talk politics without discussing immigration. President Trump has made immigration a central issue of his presidency after campaigning for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico during the last election. Tensions on how to handle immigration have only escalated since he entered the Oval Office (including a travel ban on many majority-Muslim countries, declaring a national emergency to seek funding for the border wall, and the media coverage on the conditions that immigrant children are in while detained at border camps). Expect candidates to reveal their ideas and plans for handling immigration. The Washington Post has a helpful quick-reference graphic for an overview on where candidates stand on top-line immigration issues. 

Economy — 

Recently, there have been whispers that the country may be headed toward a recession. And trade tensions between the U.S. and China elevate this fear/possibility. Here are some of the signs economists look for to alert them to a coming recession: the yield curve, unemployment (the U.S. unemployment rate is currently near a 50-year low), GDP output gap (used to gauge the health of the economy: the difference between actual and potential economic output) and consumer confidence (historically, consumer confidence dips during downturns). The hot topics of free college and debt elimination also come into play here. Business Insider has a VERY top-line article that sums up each candidate’s stance in just a few sentences. Polico’s guide allows you to see candidates’ stance on more granular issues. 


These debates tend to move quickly — and as a result, a lot of “facts” get thrown around that may or may not paint the entire picture. Use or to confirm validity, accurate numbers and sources.


In the midst of everything you have going on day-to-day, it can be difficult to stay informed on every news story. This happens especially when the news moves fo fast. And let’s face it, most of it can be really hard to hear, which doesn’t help! Here are some tips to fit the news into your daily routine so you can become informed and stay informed — especially throughout the election season. 

Look for opportunities in your daily routine

Have a long commute? Listen to a news podcast! (See below!) Do you scroll through Instagram while eating breakfast? Swap the app for a scroll through The Skimm‘s morning newsletter (Pro tip- follow them on Instagram — they’ve reached out to all 2020 candidates for their “Interview for the Oval” series and you can find them on their IG TV). Do you scan your favorite bookmarked sites before diving into emails? Add a political site to the mix! 

Figure out the best way you like to consume content 

Experiment with a variety of platforms to see which one you best relate to or complements your schedule. Firstly, there’s traditional print, which may work for morning people who ease into their days. Or websites for those of us who catch up on news at our desks. Podcasts, on the other hand, are great for multitasking and commuting. Want to try a political podcast? Business Insider rounded up the best 10 political podcasts. 

Sign up for newsletters

Newsletters can be a great way to consume content without having to search for it — especially on crazy days. Even if it takes a while to cross off your list, you can easily access the content you haven’t gotten to yet.

Here are some great political newsletters to consider signing up for: 

  1. The Skimm: morning newsletter that breaks down what’s happening on big issues and why they’re happening.
  2. Politico 2020 Elections: Follow this newsletter for Politico’s election coverage.
  3. The New York Times’ On Politics: A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics and conversation with voters across the country — telling you what you really need to know.
  4. CNN’s Five Things For Your New Day: Perfect for a quick morning digest: five minutes for five things you must know for the day. 
  5. NPR’s Morning Edition: Catch up on the latest headlines and unique NPR stories, sent every weekday.

Diversify your news sources

While it’s great to know where you stand, it can be tempting to only consume content that mostly aligns with your views. Moreover, it’s important to understand different perspectives in a world that has become so incredibly polarized.

If you’re already consuming specific political content, consider broadening your horizons to learn what other media is saying. It’s important to hear what other citizens are absorbing and to understand where other sides are coming from. 

I hope this post was helpful! I would love to hear which political topics/issues you’d like to see broken down next. DM me @jesskeys_ and let me know!