The 2020 elections in the United States are about to take over the news in the western world for the better part of two years. It will be exhausting to many who prefer not to follow politics closely – or who would rather follow candidates on their own terms than through the endless “hot takes” of media punditry.
If you fit this description – interested in the election cycle and the potential candidates, but not willing to dive head-first into the 24-hour news cycles, Twitter arguments, and endless deluge of written analysis – good old-fashioned books may just serve as a perfect outlet for you. It’s an old cliché at this point that everyone running for president writes a book (hey, they get good sales out of it even if they don’t win!). But even if it’s almost an obligation at this stage, these books can also sometimes offer the purest or most interesting perspectives on candidates’ ideals, pasts, or simply how they think. The books, though undoubtedly planned and edited carefully, are unadulterated by the aforementioned punditry.
Furthermore, these books are often very important! After all, there’s really no denying that the last two American presidents had extraordinarily impactful books, whether you like them or not. Barack Obama’s The Audacity Of Hope was a bold and inspiring introduction to a man who was at the time a little-known politician with soaring ambitions. Donald Trump’s The Art Of The Deal, despite the fact that many doubt its veracity (including the man who wrote it alongside Trump), crafted the image of an expert businessman unparalleled in negotiations. Both books played enormous roles in American politics; Trump’s, in particular, in a roundabout way, may well have gotten him elected.
If the idea of books like these intrigues you – books that can have such substantial impact and which concern political figures directly – there are certainly some that you may want to dive into over the course of the 2019-2020 election cycle.
Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden
As of this writing, former vice president Joe Biden hasn’t announced a run for president, though many assume he will. He has consistently led in polling among potential Democratic candidates, many still wish he had run in 2016, and some have even mused that he could run alongside Mitt Romney in a “unity ticket” meant to forge the two political parties. One way or another, it seems he’ll eventually be in the race, but even if he isn’t this is a book worth reading. Promise Me, Dad is a chronicle not just of Biden’s time in office serving under Obama, but of his career and relationship with his family, which, sadly, has known immense struggle and tragedy. It’s a powerful portrait of a man with everything to give, who seems to have given quite a bit of it.
Where We Go From Here by Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders will be one of the most polarizing 2020 candidates, but also one of the best known. Indeed, international betting markets featuring speculation on the elections are already covering his infant candidacy, suggesting reasons to back or not to back him. And he recently smashed the fundraising records of the other Democratic candidates who have announced their candidacies. However you feel about him, he’s likely to be a serious contender, which makes this a book worth reading. It’s essentially a continuation of Sanders’s “political revolution” pushing the Democratic Party left and resisting Trump’s presidency, in audiobook for, but again, it does feature thoughts from a man who has better odds than most to be the president in 2021.
Two Paths by John Kasich
Not all of the potential candidates with books available are on the Democratic side. Naturally most of the primary election coverage will be on the Democrats given that they are gearing up to challenge the incumbent Republican president. But some Republicans – most notably former Ohio governor John Kasich – are poised to challenge Trump themselves. Two Paths is Kasich’s recap of his experience running for the Republican nomination against Trump in 2016, as well as his concerns about and vision for the future. Ultimately, with the subtitle “American United or Divided,” it’s a fairly clear setup to a potential challenge in 2019 or 2020, and an interesting if somewhat idealistic take on how we can bridge our divides.
This Fight Is Our Fight by Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren is poised to be another serious contender on the Democratic side, though some see her as clashing with Sanders such that one or the other will be in it for the long haul, but not both. This Fight Is Our Fight is fairly unique on this list in that it focuses not on a general biography, campaign recap, or vision of the future, but rather on Warren’s core goal as a politician: to solve income inequality. It’s a direct, impassioned argument, and one that paints a fairly clear picture of the president Warren might become, whether or not you would be for her candidacy.
The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris
If there’s a book on this list that strikes a similar note to Obama’s The Audacity Of Hope, it’s this new release by California senator Kamala Harris. Like Obama, Harris avoids making an overt political play in this book, and instead gives readers an idea of the kind of person and leader she is in general, and the breadth of experience that goes into her voice and actions. It’s perhaps the most personal book on this list aside from Biden’s, despite the fact that Harris historically hasn’t been in the habit of getting personal. Whether or not you’re a fan of Harris’s politics or a potential voter in the Democratic primaries, it’s a fairly inspiring and interesting read simply as a good piece of nonfiction writing.