How Will The Paris Attacks Affect American Elections?

Photo: Matt Baron/REX Shutterstock
Friday night’s devastating terrorist attack on France may prove to have political ripples far outside Europe, as American presidential candidates turn their attention from the economy to issues of national security. CBS News, the network hosting tonight’s Democratic debate, already announced a change in its plans, with questions focusing more on terrorism, national security, and foreign relations.

The 2012 election cycle, much like what we have so far seen of 2016, focused primarily on issues of jobs and economic security after the 2008 banking crash that sent the United States into an economic spiral. The recession caused long-term unemployment to rise to 10% by late 2009, leaving most voters more concerned about what was in their wallets than foreign policy.

The shift in focus will likely benefit Hillary Clinton, the only candidate with significant experience in foreign affairs. Clinton served as Secretary of State under the Obama Administration from 2009 to 2013, when she was replaced by John Kerry. Clinton’s term as Secretary of State saw a significant amount of international turmoil, from the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama Bin Laden to the rise of the Arab Spring movement. She will have a solid history of international experience and dealing with terrorism to draw from. Her Democratic challengers, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, are less experienced.

On the other side of the aisle, Republican candidates will have to attempt to refrain from allowing anti-immigration stances to turn xenophobic and nativist. In an interview with Fox News, candidate Ted Cruz used the Paris attacks, which have been claimed by the Islamic State group (ISIS) as its doing, as an excuse to call on Obama to not allow refugees from the Syrian civil war into the United States. Candidate Donald Trump also brought his personal brand of nuanced rhetoric to bear on the topic, saying that France’s strict gun laws contributed to the tragedy.
Advertisement

More from US News

Throughout history, Americans have used activism as a tool to seek positive change in communities and in government. That's no different today. With ...
Election Day lasts just one day — a 24-hour culmination of the seemingly never-ending campaign season. But we’ll spend the next two, four, six years ...
1. Here At Home: A teenager killed his father before opening fire at a school in South Carolina where he wounded two students and a teacher. ...
If the chaotic party politics of the 2016 election have left you feeling completely birdbrained, this video is for you. The Founding Fathers (presented ...
California passed a law Wednesday removing the state's 10-year statute of limitations for filing of child molestation and rape charges. Governor Jerry ...
Monday night was the personification of media bias and rigged politics
If you had to describe the current political climate in America, what word would you choose: volatile, toxic, or divisive? Perhaps all of the above. ...
Hillary Clinton has been a role model for our generation for years, and now she’s laying out a master class in taking on workplace sexism
1. Major News: A bill to prevent the government from shutting down and to fund the fight against Zika was stalled in the Senate. With a 45-55 vote, the...
But take heart. There won’t be a President Trump. Not if I and millions of other women in this country have anything to say about it
A young girl delivered a powerful message of peace speaking at the first Charlotte City Council meeting since violence threatened to rip the city apart ...
Hillary Clinton long ago learned to let the insults roll off her back. And in doing so, she’s uncovered Trump's Achilles' heel
Donald Trump believes that climate change is a hoax. Sorry, Donald Trump does not believe that climate change is a hoax. Are you confused yet? I don't ...
Less than 12 hours after being criticized for calling out a former Miss Universe about her weight, Donald Trump is doubling down on his body-shaming ...