2016 will be a watershed year in American politics. The next president will take office during a period of significant uncertainty domestically and around the world.
Questions of religious freedoms and of America’s role in the global community will have to be answered. The winner will likely have a chance to shake up the Supreme Court.
We will also see a concrete test of new campaign strategies.
The slew of rhetorical aggression toward “the other” has kick-started crucial questions for the U.S. Will we retain our founding principles of freedom and due process or cave under the pressure of religious fundamentalism? With Americans now more worried about terrorism than any other issue, will our next Commander in Chief embody the will of the American public on security issues while making us feel safe?
With the TPP, Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement in the books, the 45th president will be obliged to either engage further with the international community or revert to isolationist policies reminiscent of the first half of the 20th century.
At a time of conflict and crisis, U.S. policy will have a spotlight shone on it. The world will be looking to see whether we stay on a similar track or jolt to the reactionary right.
Of significance is the very real possibility that the next president will have the chance to nominate up to three Supreme Court justices. Justice Ginsburg is 82 years old, but is not expected to step down anytime soon. Justice Kennedy, who is often a swing vote, is 79, as is Justice Scalia. Nominating a justice to the bench offers the ability to concretely shape legal precedent for decades to come.
Expect very different outcomes for the court's decisions, and long-term societal impact, depending on who wins the presidency.
With voting starting in exactly one month, the increasingly digital-centric strategies employed by campaigns will be under scrutiny. Is digital going to take over marketing and advertising budgets moving forward, or will it remain a cog in an increasingly varied strategy?
Whatever the 2016 outcome, let us wish for a more positive and encouraging new year.