After a staggering defeat in 2012, Republicans are looking for a big victory in the presidential elections of 2016 to re energize their party and their voting base. The following are a few of the big issues that the Republicans might push leading up to, and during, the next elections.
Arguably one of the most controversial of Obama’s national security policies, our military is currently shifting from manpower-based “boots on the ground” operations, to precision strikes by drones in hostile territory that can be controlled by people in a room hundreds of miles away. While this does prevent loss of life by keeping US soldiers out of harm’s way, it raises many ethical and practical concerns that Republicans will no doubt be bringing up in 2016. Most of the concerns are with using drones on US soil, which is worrying to many because of the fact that people sitting in a room with a video screen will be making decisions on whether or not to assassinate a US citizen (Council on Foreign Relations).
Most importantly, this will be an issue pushed by the Republican Party because rising star Rand Paul (R-Ky) recently conducted a 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination as CIA director, mostly in protest of US drone doctrine and the potential for drones to be used to kill Americans (Washington Post). Rand Paul is also strongly considering a run for the presidency in 2016, and if he does, this will no doubt be a cornerstone of his, and the Republican Party’s, platform. His high-profile opposition to using drones on American soil will be used as evidence of the Republican Party’s defense of civil liberties and government oversight.
The current drama unfolding on the Korean Peninsula will almost certainly be one of the Republican Party’s main talking points come the 2016 election. While Obama and the Democrats are lauding their successes in the War on Terror and making the world a safer place, North Korea is continuously threatening to revamp its nuclear program, and recently explicitly said that it is restarting its reactors for the sole purpose of creating nuclear weapons (Reuters). While the Obama administration has been involved in extensive talks and negotiations with North Korea, South Korea, and China, Republicans will say that strong words are not enough – that Obama is letting North Korea bully him with its threats and “brinksmanship” (The Atlantic). If North Korea does indeed continue its nuclear program, in 2016 Republicans will be repeating the following challenge over and over again: “How can you say the world is a safer place after 8 years of a Democratic president, when a rogue-state like North Korea is actively pursuing nuclear weapons with impunity?”
What makes this a lucrative issue for the Republican Party is the fact that a large percentage of their voting base is Christian. During the 2012 election they started crafting a narrative that the Democratic Party is waging a “war on religion”, by disallowing religious activities and imagery in publicly funded areas and schools (National Journal). This propaganda will only intensify leading up to 2016, especially with the increasingly heated debate that is raging over the issue of gay marriage. Democrats express much more support for marriage equality, while Republicans tend to defend the idea of marriage in the Christian sense. The Republican Party can lock down more votes if they successfully convince people that Democrats are waging a war on religion.