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Dec 29 2016
by Diana Pope

Top 10 Political Events to Remember this Year

By Diana Pope - Dec 29 2016

This past year, a number of highly unprecedented events have unfolded in American politics due to the presidential election. The Republican and Democratic National Conventions experienced conflict among both parties; eventually, the American government concluded that Russia did interfere with the Democratic National Convention. Trump's victory in the election spurred a whole round of protests and demonstrations at college campuses across the country. In global news, one of the most important conferences for environmental protection was held this year to actively reduce carbon emissions. The international community has coped with the repercussions of Great Britain's vote to leave the European Union and Syria's violent civil war. Fresh U compiled a list of the most important events in both national and global news for 2016. 

1. Republicans Experience Turmoil in the Presidential Primaries; Bernie Sanders Leads a Political Revolution

During the presidential primaries, both political parties experienced a whole range of interesting events that have never happened before in previous elections. In the beginning, a total of 17 Republican candidates entered the primaries; by the end of the long-fought battle, only four candidates remained on the election ticket (Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and John Kasich). Overall, the GOP primary was characterized by a divided establishment, Super-PACS and a whole host of wild-card candidates. 

Democrats, on the other hand, only had three major candidates running in the primaries: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley. Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist, led a "political revolution" that largely appealed to millennial voters and college students. He urged for a fundamental reassessment of America's political system and raised awareness about issues such as the high cost of college education and income inequality.

Mopaw Foundation via Flickr Creative Commons

2. The #BlackLivesMatter Movement Spreads to the Public Sphere & Colin Kaepaernick Holds a Silent Protest

The #BlackLivesMatter movement held several notable demonstrations and protests in 2016; this year was important because it allowed the movement to gain widespread public attention. BLM protests and marches have occurred all across the country in major cities like San Francisco, New Orleans, Dallas, Pittsburgh and Charlotte. In July, the BLM protest in Dallas sparked national controversy when several police officers were wounded and killed by protesters; President Obama condemned the ambush of Dallas police officers. However, Colin Kaepaernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco, showed renewed support for the movement when he didn't stand up for the national anthem during a major football game. 

Prachatai via Flickr Creative Commons

3. Major Controversy erupts at both National Conventions

Debbie Wassermann Schultz, the major chairwoman of the Democratic National Convention, resigned after investigation into emails that were leaked before the convention. The leaked emails exposed Schultz's efforts to assist Clinton's campaign at the expense of her political rivals. The Republican National Convention also began in disarray with the disposal of major Presidential endorsements; Trump's prospects appeared to be anything but hopeful. Ted Cruz, a former Presidential candidate, received a number of complaints when he refused to endorse Trump.

Photo by Alex Hogan via Flickr Creative Commons

4. The International Community Negotiates the Paris Climate Agreement

This October, the European Parliament finally ratified the Paris Climate Accords; the United States and China finally agreed to join this important negotiation. President Obama was one of the main architects behind this international agreement to combat climate change. Global leaders who agreed to join the Paris Accords are planning to take measures to stymy carbon emissions. However, various researchers, scientists and politicians have stated that the aims of these agreements are too far-fetched in nature, and are unlikely to be achieved by countries in the international community. 

@EnergyDesk via Twitter

5. Great Britain Leaves the European Union 

Due to a close vote among its citizens on June 23rd, Great Britain announced that it would sever all ties with the European Union. Since the referendum, Great Britain has ushered in a new Prime Minister (Theresa May) who took over for David Cameron. The country has suffered economic downturn and an overall decrease in foreign investment due to Brexit. Great Britain will invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty so that the country will be able to leave the EU by 2019. 

@Brexit via Twiter

6. Syria's Citizens Experience Chaos; Turkey's Government Deals with Massive Coup

In global news, the governments of Syria and Turkey have experienced turmoil due to civilian revolts and bombings. The Syrian Civil War has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, and incurred costly damage to infrastructure and schools. The violence against civilians has been criticized by the United Nations and Arab League, and the problems in the country have prompted an international refugee crisis. This past April, Turkey experienced a violent coup that almost overthrew the government, with state officials calling for a national emergency. Since the failed coup, the Turkish government has incarcerated thousands of supporters who are associated with the Gulenist Movement. 

@AJUpFront via Twitter

7. Donald Trump Scores "Unprecedented" Win in the 2016 Presidential Election; Republicans Dominate Congressional Elections 

Republicans had a groundbreaking year in the national elections and now hold the majority in the House, Senate and the White House. Even though Donald Trump did not win the popular vote, he still was able to keep a high margin of electoral votes. Trump won highly contested swing states  like Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan. Republicans currently hold 51 out of the 100 seats in the senate, and 239 seats in the House. Even though Democrats suffered crushing blows this election season, females and minorities had enormous wins  in the House and Senate. Catherine Cortez Masto will be the first Latina woman to serve in the Senate; Pramila Jayapal will be the first Indian woman to serve in Congress. 

Michael Vadon via Flickr Creative Commons

8. CIA Concludes that Russia Interfered with the 2016 Elections

After the election, every major newspaper was plastered with a headline concerning Russian interference with the presidential elections because this was a national and global phenomenon; never before had a major country tried to stage a cyberattack on the American elections. The Russian hacks resulted in the release of thousands of stolen emails that revealed horrifying details about the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton. Mitch McConnell, the senate majority leader, has received complaints for failing to stop Russian leaders when they were attempting to interfere with the Democratic Party. 

@CBCAlerts via Twitter

9. College Students Stage Major Protests in Reaction to Donald Trump

All across the country, college students were angry at Trump's rhetoric towards various minorities and staged demonstrations to protest his victory in the presidential elections. In California, students at UC Davis and University of Southern California were able to lead peaceful, but powerful protests that gained attention from state officials. Roads and major intersections in the city of Chicago were shut down due to swarms of protesters from Columbia College. Movimiento Cosecha, an organization that advocates for the protection of undocumented immigrants, empowered students from over 100 colleges to call for "sanctuary campuses."

10. Donald Trump Ushers in New Cabinet Appointments; Speculation about Court Appointments Looms

Donald Trump intends to shake-up what's currently occurring in the White House with his new list of cabinet appointments. Most notably, he appointed Rex Tillerson, a prolific CEO of ExxonMobil, as his Secretary of State. Critics are concerned about his history of business ties with Russia, and worry that his professional history could prevent him from being sworn into office. Betsy DeVos will be the Secretary of Education, and plans to introduce vouchers and change Common Core. Trump also appointed Steven Mnunchin for the Secretary of Treasury position based on his long history with Goldman Sachs. In the coming year, Trump is expected to make over 100 judicial appointments and will have to fill the seat of deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. 

Rex Tillerson. PC: Texas BBA via Youtube

All things considered, 2016 has been a year of political unrest in the United States and global community. Trump's candidacy motivated American citizens to stage important protests and demonstrations before and after his election to call for protection of various groups. Many individuals are questioning the legitimacy of the American government after Russian interference with the elections. Syria, Turkey and Great Britain are all countries who have experienced political turmoil due to public discontent with the presiding governments. 

Lead Image Credit: Joe Brusky via Flickr Creative Commons 

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Diana Pope - University of Tennessee Knoxville

Diana is a political science major who also enjoys journalism, history, and philosophy. She loves writing, researching, and debating about politics. In her free time, she enjoys Grey's anatomy marathons and reading detective fiction.

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