The Unexpected Rise of Donald Trump
On June 16th, real estate mogul and reality television personality Donald Trump announced his presidential bid for the 2016 elections. Since then, Trump has held the national political stage. Over the past few months, Trump repeatedly has made headlines by uttering misogynistic comments (some even leveled at Fox News personalities), calling for the erection of a Southern border wall to be paid for by Mexico, promising to deport 11 million undocumented migrants, labelling the majority of those migrants as “rapists,” and endlessly attacking the GOP’s establishment candidate Jeb Bush.
Despite predictions of a quick political demise, Donald Trump has led decisively in polls of likely Republican voters. Trump’s lead has caused much hand-wringing within the party, while causing some to wonder if the whole campaign is just some ruse to get Hillary Clinton elected.
The thought of Donald Trump winning the Republican primary still seems absurd to many within the party, despite his poll numbers. The notion that he would defeat Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders seems to most voters even more unthinkable, particularly given his high negatives among women voters. No matter how this resolves itself in 2016, the nation can count on more headlines and provocative one-liners in the new year.
U.S. – Cuba Relations
The relationship between the United States of America and Cuba since 1959 has been anything but normal. But this began to change on December 17, 2014, when President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced that they would begin normalizing relations. Since then, much progress has been made, following the “new course” set out by the White House.
Through 2015, the countries re-opened their embassies and reached their first accord on protecting the environment. Raul Castro visited the U.N. and gave a speech. Deals were made to resume direct mail and long-distance phone service. U.S. travel to Cuba has increased 50% over the past year, presenting the country with its own host of challenges with the influx of visiting Americans. As recently as this month, Cuba and the U.S. announced that they will be resuming commercial flights between the two countries, and President Obama remarked that he would like to visit the country before the end of his second term.
Despite this progress, Cubans assert that they are not really feeling the benefits of the improved relationship, and that they won’t until the U.S. lifts its half-century-long trade embargo. Many Republicans, who owe their political lives to the conservative Cuban vote, oppose such a move. Besides, according to journalist Ann Louise Bardach, lifting the trade embargo may not be so simple: “[It’s] unlikely, because of the Republican control of it, the fact that both Rubio and Cruz are on the record for being willing to fight tooth and nail to keep it in place and it’s a political season. It’s possible after the November election, but I don’t see anything moving.”
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