Price on Politics: Four things to pay attention to this summer

Megan+Fisher

Megan Fisher

Price Wilborn, Commentary writer

As the semester ends and summer moves closer, I have started to look at what Americans can expect in the world of politics between now and the fall. There are many things to watch for, but as with anything, there will be many unexpected developments in the months to come.

Here are four issues or events that Americans should be paying attention to heading into the summer.

The Ukraine-Russia Conflict

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine shows no signs of slowing any time soon. Russian forces continue to surround Ukrainian cities in hopes of capturing them. Russia has captured some cities and has since lost control of some.

The world is still watching. On April 24, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. The two met with Ukranian President Zelenskyy, as well as other high ranking Ukrainian officials. While in Kyiv, the two secretaries reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Ukraine as they continue to fight Russia.

The future of this conflict is hard to predict. Ukraine has shown impressive resolve against Russian forces while keeping them at bay. This has not weakened the resolve of the Russians, however. If anything, they are more determined than ever.

Continued developments will no doubt continue to impact the United States. While still high, gas prices have stopped rising. The United States will continue to support Ukraine as much as it can without sending troops into the country. Should Russia take any drastic measures that threaten NATO and/or the United States, American forces will move in.

The Jan. 6 Committee

Since the attack on the Capitol on Jan 6, 2021, the House of Representatives has been investigating the causes of the insurrection. The committee is also investigating whether or not the Trump Administration or any members of Congress had any prior knowledge or involvement in the incitement or planning of the attack.

On April 21, the New York Times reported that in a phone call with other members of the House Republican leadership, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy condemned Trump and stated that he would urge him to resign.

This revelation shook political commentators around the country. Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, has stated that “the hearings will tell a story that will really blow the roof off the House.”

Promises such as these have many wondering whether or not the committee will produce results. I am not so sure that it will. The Republican party’s base will not be shaken, no matter what the findings are. Should the committee find damning evidence against high level government officials, however, the story will be different.

As the summer nears, the committee’s hearings grow closer. The committee is scheduled to begin hearings in June. These hearings will be the first time the public will be able to hear evidence from the committee and what it has found.

Evidence could be damning for Donald Trump and the Republicans and it could not be. Only time will tell, and by the end of the summer,  the picture will be clearer.

The Kentucky Abortion Bills

In early April, the Kentucky State Legislature overrode a veto by Governor Andy Beshear to make a new abortion bill law. House Bill 3 effectively banned all abortions in the state. The bill has since been temporarily blocked by a federal judge. The bill is seen by many, including Governor Beshear, as unconstitutional.

A similar bill from Mississippi has been debated by the Supreme Court and is awaiting a decision. This decision is expected by June of this year, the end of the Court’s term. The court’s conservative justices have indicated that they might allow Roe vs. Wade to be overturned, allowing for bills like Mississippi’s and Kentucky’s to stand.

Should these bills be allowed to stand, the landscape of women’s health could be changed forever in the United States. It will allow for individual states to ban abortion completly and open the door for the United States Congress to pass a national ban (more on my thoughts on this here).

By the end of the summer, changes in abortion laws could be in place in Kentucky and around the nation. This will be an important issue to watch.

The 2022 Midterm Election Primaries

Kentucky’s primaries for the 2022 midterm elections are on May 17. The biggest election taking place (aside from the biannual House of Representatives elections) will be the primary race between Rand Paul and Charles Booker. Booker has been the presumptive nominee for months now, but the primaries on May 17 will make him the official Democratic nominee.

This is going to be a close election, but Booker has a shot.

Elections around the nation will be holding primaries, as well. In Texas, former member of the US House of Representatives and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke is hoping to challenge incumbent Republican Greg Abbott for the governorship of the state.

In Florida, former Republican governor Charlie Crist is hoping to secure the Democratic nomination for his former position, challenging incumbent Republican Ron DeSantis (a possible Republican candidate for president in 2024).

While Democratic victories are unlikely in these states, should O’Rourke or Crist win–or even come close–it will show that Republicans are growing unhappy with the farther right views of the party. It will also show the Democrats’ need to seize the center, attracting more moderate Republicans and Democrats, while keeping in mind that there are many who wish the party to move farther to the left.

Elections around the country will determine whether or not the Democrats can keep hold of the House and the Senate. Historically, presidents holding a majority for the first two years of their term lose one or both of these majorities in their first midterm. Given the current political landscape, it is likely that President Biden and the Democrats lose their majorities in both houses. It is more likely, however, in the Senate, where Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaking vote in a chamber divided 50-50.

The upcoming midterm elections will shape the rest of President Biden’s first term in office. Leading up to the 2024 election, the majorities in Congress will be more important. Should the Republicans take even one chamber, Biden’s agenda will be effectively dead. Compromise will be even harder to reach. Biden will have trouble passing legislation, painting him as ineffective and hurting his reelection chances, should he run again in 2024.

The midterms, as with all elections, are very important. No matter your political views, make sure you get out and vote, and if you’re not registered, make sure to do so before the general elections in November!

Commentary writer Price Wilborn can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @pricewilborn.