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No One Knows What the Big Political Issue Will Be Come 2016

Rand Paul at the 2014 Liberty Political Action Conference (LPAC) earlier this month

I find articles like this from the Washington Post, “Why it might be time to sell that Rand Paul stock” rather silly because no one has any idea what will be the big issue over a year from now.

Sen. Rand Paul’s best window for winning the 2016 Republican presidential nomination increasingly looks like it has passed.

A lot can happen over the next 18 months, but the renewed focus on foreign policy — and more specifically, the Islamic State — has reminded the Republican Party where its true views on international affairs lie.

And it is decidedly not with non-interventionists like Paul (R-Ky.).

While it is true that the country has been swept up in the anti-ISIS hysteria, which is not the best political environment for Rand Paul, we have absolutely no idea what people will care about over a year from now when the Republican’s presidential primary starts getting serious.

  • Three years ago – The country was focus on our involvement in the Libyan civil war and now most voters almost never think about it.
  • Two years ago – Our main foreign policy concern was Assad regime and now we don’t even see him as the biggest problem in Syria.
  • Roughly 18 months ago  – Our politics were dominated by the fiscal cliff and now I doubt 10 percent of voters even remember what its main components were.
  • A year ago – The country was consumed with the government shutdown but its political impact was very short lived because the political media quickly turned to the disastrous roll out of
  • 11 months ago – The technically problems plaguing dominated campaigns for awhile early in this cycle but now has slipped to a clear second tier campaign issue.
  • 4 months ago –  Stories of unaccompanied minors crossing the borders caused immigration to spike to one of the top concerns among Americans but already the public focus on that has dropped significantly.

I don’t know what the big political issue will be around December of 2015, but I doubt it will be ISIS unless our latest war goes bad. If it does, that might not necessarily bad for the candidate who has been skeptical about how effective military action can be.

Photo by Gage Skidmore under Creative Commons license

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at