WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- Far left versus center left. That is the clash of ideas Democratic presidential candidates are having in the primary process. The difference of opinions on issues divides the party made up of socialists, progressives, liberals and moderates.
"The Democratic Party is in a war for its soul right now," explained Trevor Brass, a Sioux City attorney and part of the group Channel 13 has nicknamed, "The Deciders."
That "war," as Brass described it, pits far different ideas from the candidates on issues like health care, education and taxes.
Health care: The far left wants "Medicare for All," which could eliminate private insurance as a way to make health care more affordable and prevent it from bankrupting the sick. Moderates would rather offer people a choice of whether to keep private insurance or opt into a federal government-run health insurance system and says this would be far cheaper for taxpayers.
Education: The far left calls for tuition-free public college for students and eliminating most, if not all, of accumulated student loan debt to allow greater access to higher education without burdening students with future debt. The center left offers ideas like more Pell Grants to help families with fewer financial resources to pay for college and says wealthy families shouldn't have taxpayers subsidize their education by paying for tuition-free college.
Wealth tax: The far left wants to levy annual taxes of the accumulated assets of the extreme wealthy. The center left thinks that idea is not realistic to carry out and instead calls for plans like higher income taxes on the wealthy.
"This is America," Hannah Drollinger, an Iowa City musician declared, "Why is this happening?"
Drollinger, like others in the group, wants politicians to address income inequality, which has worsened over the past three decades. Whatever the solutions, she wants a greater focus on helping those in the lower and middle-income levels. "It breaks my heart to think that in today's America some people, and even politicians, try to pretend that this (income inequality) isn't happening."
Sandy Glenn, a retired college professor in Cedar Falls, believes the issues and candidate positions on them are important in the president race. But she also cautioned about political reality of campaign promises. "I think it's important to recognize that no matter what one candidate says, they’re not going to be able to achieve it by themselves," she said.