The Rev. Al Sharpton, a crowd favorite in
many of the presidential debates, has consistently been the most
animated and outspoken of the Democratic candidates. What he brings
to the campaign is as unique as his personality: While largely
without a well-developed domestic or international agenda, Sharpton
has been the common-sense candidate who has constantly grounded the
debate in real-world issues. His populism and love for the
disenfranchised is genuine — a reflection of his long history
as a political activist.

Mira Levitan

However, unlike his competition, he has never held a prominent
leadership position within the government. His domestic agenda
borders on nonexistent, and he has, on occasion, appeared to lack
an in-depth understanding of American government. When asked about
the policies of the U.S. Federal Reserve in a recent debate, he was
clearly dumfounded.

Additionally, Sharpton’s noted top ten reasons for running
are alarmingly vague, including reasons such as working to increase
voter registration, political consciousness and awareness. While
idealistic and laudable, these efforts fail make up for a platform
severely lacking in substance.

He does, however, have well established positions concerning
poverty, race and disenfranchisement. His primary issues have been
improving the conditions of the underprivileged class through
eliminating tax cuts to the rich and improving education.

The greatest asset that Sharpton brings to the table is his
uncanny ability to speak his mind and avoid the shameless pandering
that has become a fixture of the modern American political debate.
His dazzling, yet truthful statements and critiques on his fellow
running mates, while no doubt a reflection of Sharpton’s
abilities as an orator, have been critical in making each and every
candidate stronger.

He brings issues out into the spotlight that the other
candidates tend to gloss over. He has spent his whole life fighting
for the civil rights of all people, including minorities, women and
the poor. Throughout the campaign, Sharpton has made these issues
his focus, thus offering a perspective unlike the rest of the
field, most of whom have spent their professional careers in
politics, far removed from the political realities on the
ground.

His campaign for president has become an extension of this
fight. He talks about urban struggles, affirmative action and
relations among those of different ethnic, economic and religious
backgrounds. While most have written him off as a non-contender,
Sharpton has nonetheless been a key player in the campaign simply
by speaking his mind honestly and often.

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