2014: The Year in Politics

The holiday season is officially over and 2015 is in full swing. Even the United States Congress is back in session! Before we get too far into the New Year, I thought it would be good to look back on ten important American political issues and events that happened in 2014.

  1. Affordable Care Act: The continued rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) faced many setbacks in 2014. Kathleen Sebelius, former Secretary of Health and Human Services, resigned in April after becoming the scapegoat for a slow and buggy healthcare.gov, the website which housed the plan’s open enrollment. Despite the issues, the number of Americans who signed up for health coverage under ACA exceeded expectations.
  2. ISIS Attacks: ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, rolled across Iraq and Syria in 2014 vying for a unified Islamic state, or caliphate. ISIS is presumed responsible for the death of several American journalist and aid workers as well as for widespread civilian deaths across the Middle East. President Obama authorized additional troops and targeted airstrikes in ISIS held territory. As the recent attack in Paris confirms, ISIS sympathizers are active and extremely dangerous.
  3. Ebola Comes to the United States: The first case of Ebola in the United States was reported in Dallas, Texas in September of 2014. While state and local officials in Texas were primarily impacted, governments around the nation took precautionary measures and prepared to combat the disease on a wide scale. Though the Ebola scare begins to wane in the United States, the virus continues to affect thousands in West Africa.
  4. Ferguson and Race in the United States: The death of Michael Brown at the hands of officer Darren Wilson sparked an outcry from communities across America. The decision not to indict officer Wilson in November 2014 further flamed unrest and violence in the Ferguson suburb of Missouri and elsewhere. What does this mean for racial equality in the United States? What do you think the country needs to do to move forward?

    "Ferguson" by People's World (CC BY-NC 2.0)

    “Ferguson” by People’s World (CC BY-NC 2.0)

  5. Gay Marriage and the States: Key court battles struck down bans on gay marriage in multiple states in 2014. Gay marriage is now legalized in thirty-five states and the District of Columbia; more Americans live in states that allow gay marriage than in states that do not. The past year was not all-good news for gay rights advocates, however. Laws preventing gay marriage were also upheld in district and circuit courts. Because of the split among the circuit courts, review by the Supreme Court is likely.
  6. The 2014 Midterm Elections: On November 4th, 2014, voters went to the polls to elect United States Representatives and, in some states, Senators and Governors. The midterm elections brought many new Republican faces to the United States Congress, including nine to the Senate and thirteen to the House of Representatives. The elections were touted as a win for Republicans; Democrats look toward the 2016 elections. As the 114th Congressional session gets underway, it remains to be seen what the Republican controlled Congress will do.
  7. Executive Action on Immigration: Immigration continued to be on the political radar throughout 2014. Growing violence in South and Central America lead to widespread displacement of youth from these countries to the United States. In response to these events and others, President Obama announced a series of executive actions on immigration that bypass approval from Congress. Among these actions is the delay in the deportation of over four million unauthorized immigrants in the United States. Critics label the President’s actions as an overuse of presidential power while others believe that the President should do more to help the migrant’s plight. What about you, do you think the president’s actions are appropriate?

    "Not 1 More Deportation" By Michael Fleshman (CC BY-NC 2.0)

    “Not 1 More Deportation” By Michael Fleshman (CC BY-NC 2.0)

  8. Release of CIA Torture Report:  The December release of the CIA Torture Report sparked public outcry against the methods and tactics employed by the United States Central Intelligence Agency and the authorization of that force by American military leaders. How does this report affect American diplomacy abroad?
  9. United States and Cuba Relations: President Obama urged government officials to review United States relations with the nation of Cuba in December of 2014. President John F. Kennedy instituted the official embargo on trade relations with Cuba in 1962. Although this embargo can only be officially ended by Congress, President Obama made steps to “normalize” US-Cuba relations by working to reestablish embassies, ease travel restrictions, and review Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, among others.
  10. Sony hack, The Interview, and Cyber Terrorism: Also in December of 2014, news came that Sony was pulling it’s movie, The Interview, starring James Franco and Seth Rogan from theaters. The reason? A cyber attack that the FBI attributes to North Korea. The attack consisted of threats against Sony: it’s leadership and employees. Regardless of opinions about the movie itself, “the most serious cyber attack ever made against US interests” occurred. The United States has responded by imposing sanctions on North Korea. Fallout from the attack continues.

Of course, this list is not comprehensive; it simply aims to provide a broad overview of the past year. What do you think that this list/overview is missing? I welcome your questions and comments below.

Resources and Further Reading

  1. The Affordable Care Act
    1. Features of ACA year-by-year: http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/facts/timeline/timeline-text.html
    2. Kathleen Sebelius to Resign as Health Secretary: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/kathleen-sebelius-resign-health-secretary-n77341
    3. Is the ACA Working? http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/10/27/us/is-the-affordable-care-act-working.html#/
  2. ISIS Attacks
    1. ISIS fast facts: http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/08/world/isis-fast-facts/
    2. What a Pledge to ISIS means: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/iraq-war-on-terror/rise-of-isis/what-a-pledge-of-allegiance-to-isis-means/
    3. ISIS Trail of Terror: http://abcnews.go.com/WN/fullpage/isis-trail-terror-isis-threat-us-25053190
  3. Ebola Comes to the US
    1. Ebola Q & A: http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/09/health/ebola-q-and-a/
    2. Trial by Ebola: http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2015/02/ebola-us-dallas-epidemic
    3. Dallas closes the door on it’s Ebola scare: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/08/us/dallas-celebrates-as-ebola-monitoring-nears-an-end.html
  4. Ferguson and Race in the US
    1. Ferguson officer not charged: http://www.wsj.com/articles/ferguson-police-officer-not-charged-in-black-teens-shooting-1416882438
  5. Gay Marriage in the States
    1. Same Sex Marriage Map: http://www.governing.com/gov-data/same-sex-marriage-civil-unions-doma-laws-by-state.html
    2. Supreme Court Review Likely: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/06/gay-marriage-appeals-court-ohio-michigan-kentucky-tennessee/15712319/
    3. Gay Marriage Year-in-Review: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-year-ahead-gay-marriage-20141228-story.html
  6. The 2014 Midterm Elections
    1. 2014 Election Results: http://www.270towin.com/news/2014/12/19/2014-election-results_29.html#.VJRKk14AKA
    2. The 114th Congress gets it’s bearings: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/07/us/politics/the-114th-congress-brushes-off-the-snow-and-gets-its-bearings.html?action=click&contentCollection=Politics&region=Footer&module=MoreInSection&pgtype=article
  7. Executive Action on Immigration:
    1. Q & A Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration: http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/01/08/q-president-obama-s-executive-immigration-actions
    2. Executive Actions on Immigration: http://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction
    3. SNL on Obama’s Executive Order: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUDSeb2zHQ0
  8. Release of the CIA Torture Report
    1. Report Q&A: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/10/us/politics/q-and-a-about-the-torture-report.html?_r=0
    2. 7 Key Points from the Torture Report: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/12/09/world/cia-torture-report-key-points.html
    3. Senate report on CIA Torture Report: http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2014/12/politics/torture-report/
  9. United States and Cuba Relations:
    1. Cuban Embargo Questions: http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/17/politics/cuban-embargo-questions-answers/
    2. Obama’s options end at embargo: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/12/18/congress-cuba-embargo/20598199/
  10. Sony Hack
    1. Sony Hack: http://www.wired.com/2014/12/sony-hack-what-we-know/
    2. Sony Pictures Hacked: http://www.theverge.com/2014/12/8/7352581/sony-pictures-hacked-storystream
    3. New details on Sony hack: http://www.theverge.com/2015/1/7/7507981/fbi-director-comey-reveals-new-details-on-the-sony-hack/in/7116622

One thought on “2014: The Year in Politics

  1. Very well researched and written, Lauren. I do not think the President overstepped his authority in reducing deportations. In fact, I support the “road to citizenship” for law-abiding illegal immigrants who are living in the U.S., particularly those who were brought here as children. We are all essentially immigrants to this country, and that has what has made this country stronger. In addition, I am extremely concerned about the extremism in our current political environment. I hope the now Republican-controlled Congress can help move our nation back to the center…..but I’m afraid that won’t happen. I wish I had answers, which is perhaps what this blog is supposed to produce, but I confess I do not have them. Political power has become more important than what is best for the people of this nation.

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