More often than not, political pundits and commentators are quick to describe any given presidential election season as being somehow “game-changing” or “paradigm-shifting.” Yet, the forces and figures at work in the presidential election of 2016 have already reshaped the American political landscape in ways that are irreversible, much more so than in previous election seasons. In many ways, this election has already defied conventional political norms in the United States, and nowhere has this been more apparent than in the weakening of the two major parties in America. The presidential election of 2016 may test the limits of tolerance in the United States, but it has already tested the limits of American politicians’ loyalty to the two parties.
The 2016 presidential election season has been filled with surprises, many of them unpleasant. Countless pundits and commentators have declared their shock at real estate mogul Donald Trump’s sudden rise to the Republican nomination, even in the midst of what used to be the most crowded partisan primary in recent memory. However, even as one can hardly escape coverage of Trump’s candidacy, the endless and impassioned attempts to interpret the so-called “Trump phenomenon” can actually distract us from recognizing what was probably an equally surprising development of the 2016 race: the severe (and, in one case, politically fatal) difficulties experienced by Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. In fact, as Donald Trump continues to bring the Republican rank-and-file even closer within his orbit, the failure of the latter might prove to be instructive for understanding the potential threat to the former.
For the next several weeks and months, lawmakers and policy experts in the United States will be debating the various merits and disadvantages of the recently-announced deal between the United States, along with several of its negotiating partners, and the Islamic Republic of Iran to have the latter nation take certain steps to curb the development of its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. The proposed deal has yet to undergo the necessary ratification by the United States Congress, and the New York Times has published a piece that briefly summarizes and explains the key components of the agreement.
It goes without saying that the discussion about the Iran deal by both public figures in America, and the American public in general, has occasionally been influenced by hyperbole that borders on the obscenely outrageous.
The Republican presidential primary field seems to be growing by one candidate every week, on average. Today, Scott Walker announced that he will seek his party’s nomination for the presidency, and at least two more Republicans are expected to declare their candidacies before the summer is finished. At the same time, even as so many GOP governors, congressmen, and businessmen have entered the race, there are still some Republicans whose absence from the primary field is somewhat notable. None of the four politicians who served on the party’s last two tickets are seeking the presidency this year. John McCain has remained in the Senate, continuing to strengthen his position as a leading voice in that body on issues related to foreign policy. Paul Ryan has remained in the House of Representatives, receiving the much-coveted chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee, from which he is able to exert incredible influence on the fiscal management of the United States federal government. While McCain and Ryan have held on to elected office, Sarah Palin translated her charismatic, conservative brand into fundraising dynamite for Tea Party candidates in the elections of 2010 and 2012. Meanwhile, where did Mitt Romney go?