US Presidential Election
In the build-up towards the 2016 U.S. election, candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties are competing against each other to win their party’s support and nomination in the presidential primaries. And the current landscape of both parties could not look any more different.
The second coming of Clinton is all but certain. Hillary Clinton doesn’t just have the Democratic nomination locked up – she might as well weld the lock shut and rename the Democratic National Convention “Hillary Hype-Train 2016”. With her established track record, the only real contention Clinton faces is from Senator Bernie Sanders, whose social democrat values and grassroots support have built momentum. Expect the Hillary Hype-Train to steamroll the competition.
While the Democratic winner seems like a shoe-in, the Republican primaries are political pandemonium. With over a dozen serious candidates and no true frontrunners, no prediction can be made confidently. Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker have all raised and dipped in popularity. Donald Trump’s candidacy was initially lampooned, but his blunt remarks have resulted in high polls that should give him a spot in the GOP debates.
Results will depend on who can best capitalize on current events. I expect Trump’s paper-thin platform to cut him out of nomination, and the large selection of far-right Tea Party candidates to water down their chances. Expect a familial rematch of the 1992 Bush-Clinton election; both may represent the despised establishment, but that strength will allow them to easily weather any storms.
Greek Financial Crisis
This summer’s news headlines were dominated by Greece’s financial crisis. Since Greece’s depression hit in 2009, the country has been through years of financial difficulty. In late June, the country came to the end of its loan agreement with no way of being able to pay it back. Greece became the first country to miss an IMF payment (not the prettiest label).
With Greece in panic mode and lenders threatening to raise austerity measures and interest rates, the country took to a vote to decide what course of action would best serve their citizens. An increase in austerity measures would leave Greek citizens with higher taxes and little to no pension, not to mention more budget cuts. Although past austerity measures managed to decrease Greece’s debt, they also significantly slowed its economy.
After a majority NO came from Greek citizens to accept the international bailout, the government came back to explain that no, actually, it had no choice but to accept a new loan, increasing austerity measures across the country. Many high ranking members of Greece’s new government who promised to cut back austerity measures arguing that they only worsen the country’s economy, stepped down after the new loan was accepted.
With Greece narrowly missing its final exit from the Eurozone, the country is far from out of the red zone. Europe’s big leaders, France and Germany, had different views on how to deal with the debt this time around, with Germany (one of Greece’s largest creditors) taking a more hardline stance. However, a “Grexit” is unfavourable as an exit from the eurozone (where Greece returns to its own currency) is filled with uncertainty and a possible negative ripple effect for everyone in the Eurozone. Whether it’s extending loan periods or reducing the amount of the loan, there is no quick fix for Greece.
The Pan Am games took Toronto by storm this summer, for two weeks of jam packed fun…and controversy. As the games approached more Canadians realized they knew basically nothing about the event–“wait what countries are coming again?”–and ticket sales for the event reflected it.
Spending controversies also surrounded the games. Stories about taxpayer money being used for frivolous expenses by CEOs and the city going $1.1 billion over budget weren’t the best messages to market the event.
As June rolled around, only 1 million of the 1.4 million tickets available prior to the games had been sold. Thankfully as anticipation grew, so did sales, leaving game officials to sleep peacefully as they hit their goals days before the games.
Traffic in and out of the city was at an all-time high during the games as athletes and fans alike crowded the highways to see events and ceremonies. Toronto’s decision to introduce temporary HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes on several major highways to alleviate congestion left daily commuters aggravated at the changes. The games also faced criticism for hosting events outside of Toronto, like the soccer stadium in Hamilton – an hour away from the city.
Controversy continued when Mayor John Tory announced Kanye West would be one of the performers for the closing ceremonies. Fans reacted in horror at the idea of West rapping his explicit lyrics on-stage to the family centered audience and how the opportunity to showcase Canadian talent was lost. A petition was formed gaining a whopping 50,000 signatures in less than a week to have West removed from the program.
Despite all the many ups and downs of the games, Toronto came out unscathed compared to the many other controversies surrounding international sporting events including, but not limited to, Qatar 2022, Brazil 2014, and Sochi 2014. All in all, most of the city came together to celebrate and cheer on its country. And nobody hated the abundance of athletes roaming the streets of downtown Toronto either.
Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Marriage
On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage federally legal in a historical 5 to 4 vote. This decision came just two years after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which had federally defined marriage as a union strictly made between a man and a woman. Several states retaliated, claiming that the federal government was unfairly controlling state jurisdiction. Alabama, Louisiana, and other states demanded that no marriage licenses be issued until citizens had time to protest the decision. In more liberal areas, major cities hosted their Pride celebrations in the following month with extra fervour. The phrases “Love Wins” and “Love Has Won” became a common part of the media discourse. Despite the historic win, LGBTQ+ are globally an at-risk demographic. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are four times as likely to attempt suicide as heterosexual youth, and 25% of trans youth attempt to take their lives. Conversion therapy, that is ‘psychotherapy’ to turn a child or adult heterosexual, is still legal in most parts of Canada and the US. It is illegal to be gay in 79 countries and punishable by death in 10 of them. The Supreme Court ruling was a major win for the LGBTQ+ population of the US, but love definitely has not won.