Understanding the 2016 Election (Part 1): The Issues

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– by Alexa Goins, Contributor

While Americans aren’t known for being well-versed in the realm of political knowledge, we seem to either be loud and proud for “our side” or completely indifferent to what’s going on with our government. 2015 was a big year for American politics with headline-making law changes coming into effect (namely same-sex marriage). Now that that long-waged issue has been decided upon, where will the focus shift for the 2016 election? Maybe you’re absolutely clueless, or you’ve just written off voting and totally given up on trying to figure out the whole “politics thing,” but you shouldn’t. Here’s the scoop on key issues of the 2016 election.

Where We Are:

President Obama’s presidential run has been historic, to say the least. Aside from being the first black and minority president, he brought in some major changes with the Affordable Care Act and marriage laws. It is unknown whether or not he will change anything else in his last year of presidency, but the focus for the 2016 election will likely make a shift from social issues (abortion, gay marriage, free health care) to economic issues.

Health Care

Parts of the Affordable Care Act are still up for debate and subject to change, depending on who is elected in 2016. The section on abortion and government-funded care at Planned Parenthood (especially after controversial videos, which revealed that the company was selling fetal tissue, leaked a few months ago) are most likely to change. Many Americans are still confused about what the Affordable Care Act entails, so it’s likely that change will happen simply for clarification’s sake as well.

The Economy

It’s no secret that the U.S. is in deep, deep debt and many Americans are still suffering from the effects of the 2007 recession. Women are only paid 79% of what men are paid, as reported by the American Association of University Women. There is much debate over whether or not congress should raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour. A large majority of candidates in 2016 are also looking at how to reform the tax system, with some even wanting to throw out the current tax code completely.


President Obama vowed to reform immigration by allowing four million undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. and work legally in the country. There is a large chance that he will not accomplish this before the end of his presidency, which would leave immigration reform in the hands of the next president.

With both the first Republican and Democratic debates complete, it’ll be interesting to see where the candidates continue to fall around these issues and more.

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