The Republican Battle Royale
At the height of the Republican nomination race, there were seventeen major candidates running. Only four have dropped out so far (Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and Lindsey Graham). The New York icon and real estate mogul Donald J. Trump has led the polls for months now. The first voting begins in the Iowa caucus on February 1. The question on the minds of many political analysts is who can defeat the Donald. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio seem to be his biggest rivals, but Chris Christie is putting all his eggs in New Hampshire is doing well in the polls there. This race will also be remembered for how angry the Republican base is at the establishment. The choice of the establishment, Jeb Bush, has run a failed campaign. I doesn't look like he can recover. Other candidates like John Kasich, Rand Paul, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina have small pockets of support, but not a lot to get momentum. January could be a month where the majority of Republican candidates drop out.
The Democratic Dinner Table
There were five major candidates running for the Democratic nomination. Two of these candidates (Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee) dropped out after the first debate. When a sixth candidate, Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, entered the race he ran a very short campaign because of the little support and funds he received. The failure of these three showed that the Democrats were aiming for a very small race. It is likely that the establishment didn't want their choice, Hillary Clinton, to have any major opposition. There was moment, however, when many people thought she would lose in another presidential bid. A scandal was produced over her using a private email server for important government emails when she ran the State Department. This fueled the rise of Bernie Sanders, but the anti-establishment Vermont socialist has started to sputter. Meanwhile, Martin O'Malley is desperate to rise in the polls, but so far that hasn't materialized. By the time Iowa hits, it might be too late for both of Clinton's opponents.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has continued to expand in the Middle East. This year has only added more violence and confusion to the problem. Terrorist attacks inspired by their radical ideology have hit Paris twice this year and another in San Bernardino, California. On the battlefields, ISIS has killed thousands of people and has destroyed stability in the region. Ancient historical structures that have stood for centuries are being demolished by them. Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, is now involved, but his interests are in supporting Syria's dictator Bashar al-Assad. President Obama says that he will continue to bomb the enemy with airstrikes, but it looks like that isn't enough. I'm currently reading a book about former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger. I read one of his commentaries recently in The Wall Street Journal. His thoughts on ISIS are exactly what we need to do now.
The debate isn't just about how to handle ISIS, but also about our own national security. Republicans don't want the United States to allow Syrian refugees because it is too risky that terrorists could infiltrate them. Democrats prefer to allow the refugees in for humanitarian reasons. Then there's debate over going after Assad. He's a brutal dictator who is influenced by the Russians. Would it be wise to go after him once ISIS is defeated or to let him remain in power? Should we continue to spread democracy throughout the region or favor dictators who are pro-American? The media will ask these questions to the candidates.
America's Energy Revolution
While there's bad news in the Middle East, there's good news at home. The shale oil boom, courtesy of fracking, has plunged gas prices rapidly. Prices could stay at this low for many years to come (maybe even lower). Many liberals are worried that this new form of production could increase climate change and destroy the planet. They shouldn't be worried. Mark J. Perry, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a professor of economics at the University of Michigan, has been tracking the many effects of shale for some time. He has found that shale gas has reduced CO2 emissions from the electric power sector to its lowest year since 1993. Unleashing this new way to produce energy wasn't some government initiative from the Obama administration. It was created by the private sector and free market capitalism. In 2016, Democrats and Republicans will debate about government regulation in the energy sector and the Keystone pipeline. This energy boom raises the question: Since entrepreneurs can do better at lowering pollution, should the government be involved at all?
|American Enterprise Institute|
The Truth vs. The Minimum Wage
David Neumark, an economist at the University of California, has published an important article on how the evidence is piling up that the minimum wage hurts the economy. Neumark is one of many economists who has spent years studying the minimum wage policy and have proved that it's a bad idea. Unfortunately, many young liberals think that a $15 minimum wage would be a splendid idea. It might seem good because they are getting paid more, but what they fail to realize is that it would increase the cost of labor. Businesses that specialize in retail and fast food have small profit margins. Doubling the minimum wage at any level will damage their business and cause heavy economic strains on the country that led to rising unemployment. A spike in the cost of labor wouldn't just hurt young people who have jobs now, but also children who aren't in the workforce yet. The worst part of the minimum wage is that there will be jobs that will never be created, thus limiting employment opportunities of students in high school who are looking for their first job to get experience.
African-Americans that will vote in the next presidential election are likely to prioritize race relations. Many Americans believe that race relations in the country are getting worse since Obama became president. The two major presidential candidates will have explain how they plan to ease relations between whites and blacks. Minority voters are not prioritizing other issues as the statistics show. One example is how the Black Lives Matter movement disrupted a Bernie Sanders campaign event months. Sanders clearly focuses on economic issues, but minorities aren't having any of it. That's why they currently support Clinton. Ben Carson, the only major African-American candidate running, would have drawn black voters to the GOP at a record pace, but his poll numbers are falling and his lack of experience has hurt his chances at becoming the Republican nominee.
"Lame Duck" Obama
A while ago I was at my local Barnes & Noble and I saw the cover for The Economist magazine's special edition on what to focus on in politics for 2016. The cover included many political figures with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the front and in the center of a group. She was flanked by Hillary Clinton and Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen. Next to them were China's Xi Jinping and India's Narendra Modi. Obama and Putin came after them followed by Japan's Shinzo Abe and Britain's David Cameron. The most fascinating part of this cover is that Obama has been moved several places back. On the cover featuring what to expect in 2015, which was published a year ago, he was where Merkel was. It just goes to show that Obama is on his way out as America's commander-in-chief. Germany has no term limits for their chancellors. Merkel has led the Germans since 2005. Obama was elected president when I was in middle school. He will be out of office when I'm a college junior in January 2017. This election is an "out with the old, in with the new" moment for the country.