Skip to main content

Ahead for 2013: Tea party, gay marriage, guns

By Timothy Stanley, Special to CNN
January 2, 2013 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Tim Stanley predicts gay marriage will be front and center this summer when the Supreme Court takes up the issue.
Tim Stanley predicts gay marriage will be front and center this summer when the Supreme Court takes up the issue.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tim Stanley: There are a few reasonable political predictions that can be made for 2013
  • For one thing, he says, the 2016 election will start early; Biden already dropping hints
  • He says gun control and gay marriage will be big issues in coming months
  • He says the tea party will rise again, and we will all realize we miss Newt Gingrich

Editor's note: Timothy Stanley is a historian at Oxford University and blogs for Britain's The Daily Telegraph. He is the author of "The Crusader: The Life and Times of Pat Buchanan."

(CNN) -- For me, predicting the future is a family business. My grandmother was a professional clairvoyant (called, unimaginatively, Madam Clair) and used to offer palm readings and crystal ball gazing in her living room. Growing up around tarot cards and horoscopes has left me a bit cynical about making firm predictions, if only because they always seemed to be "You will meet a tall, dark stranger." But it's not impossible to make some intelligent guesses about the political world in the coming months based on the information we already have. Here are five of them.

1. The 2016 presidential election will start very early. In fact, it sort of began before the last election even ended, when Vice President Joe Biden told reporters that he didn't think 2012 was the last race he would run. In recent weeks, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, have laid out some philosophical visions, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has tried to brand himself as the Republican Party's Mr. Sane. We can expect some casual visits to Iowa or New Hampshire by outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but an outsider candidate worth watching will be Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland. He has yet to establish himself on the national stage, but he has a strong reputation among grassroots liberals.

What Americans want in 2013

Timothy Stanley
Timothy Stanley

2. Guns will become a big legislative issue. We're not going to see the kind of action that Piers Morgan wants, but the tragedy at Sandy Hook has certainly started a debate that should be continued by the new Congress. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, has promised to introduce legislation on Day One that will be similar to the federal assault weapons ban, which passed in 1994 and expired in 2004, and she has likely support from the White House and conservative Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. But we'll see tough opposition from Republicans.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



Gingrich: Romney 'gifts' comment 'nuts'
Fiery debate over guns in America
"Godfather" Of Gay Marriage On SCOTUS

3. No, the tea party won't go away. It's true that the anti-government movement has had a very bad year in 2012 and that it has been somewhat sidelined by House Speaker John Boehner, but that doesn't spell the end. First, the tea party has planted some strong roots in online activism and fund-raising: The big conservative event of 2013 will be CPAC, and only the tea party has the resources to dominate it. Second, Boehner might find his leadership challenged on January 3 and be forced to accept the movement's continued influence within the GOP. Third, the issue agenda remains favorable to the tea party. Tax cuts, balanced budgets and gun control are exactly the kind of mobilizers that are likely to revive the right. The tea party disappeared from view in 2012 only because it was eclipsed by the drive to elect Mitt Romney. Now that the debate has moved back from the party/personal to the substantive/legislative, the tea party will capitalize.

A big year for issues in the courts

Kerry Kennedy on the Tea Party

4. Gay marriage will return as a big talking point in the summer. In June, the Supreme Court will likely make a decision on the fate of California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. My instinct is that the justices will make decisions that satisfy no one, perhaps ruling against DOMA but accepting Proposition 8. Certainly it feels unlikely that they'd want to give a definitive ruling on the constitutionality of gay marriage, which would mean pushing the law in a direction that very few state governments seem willing to go. Either way, President Barack Obama's victory in 2012 didn't end the culture war; it just evened the odds a little. From the perspective of a European, America remains a remarkably socially conservative country that has yet to be sold on marriage equality.

Opinion: America on the cusp of social change

5. We will come to miss Newt Gingrich. One of the real joys of the 2012 race was covering the campaign of "The Newtster," a man with a chin for every insult he delivered. He jumped to the front of the nomination pack in early 2012 partly because GOP conservatives had few other options (one South Carolina operative described him to me as "an imperfect vehicle") but also because of the sheer strength of his personality. And while the rest of the party limited itself to discussing petty matters such as health care or the federal budget, Newt's plans ranged from getting school kids to work as janitors to building mines on the moon. He seemed genuinely surprised that the cash-strapped voters didn't buy his idea of conquering the galaxy, but a prophet in his own land is always without honor. In a hundred years time, when the American colonists of Sirius 3 are still debating gun control, don't be surprised if Newt isn't revisited as a man before his time. Perhaps he'll make the back of the $10,000 bill.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Timothy Stanley.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1259 GMT (2059 HKT)
You could be forgiven for thinking no one cares -- or even should care, right now -- about climate change, writes CNN's John Sutter. But you'd be mistaken.
September 21, 2014 -- Updated 2132 GMT (0532 HKT)
David Gergen says the White House's war against ISIS is getting off to a rough start and needs to be set right
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
John Sutter boarded a leaky oyster boat in Connecticut with a captain who can't swim as he set off to get world leaders to act on climate change
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1917 GMT (0317 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says making rude use of the Mexican flag on Mexican independence day in a concert in Mexico was extremely tasteless, but not an international incident.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1359 GMT (2159 HKT)
Michael Dunn is going to stand trial again after a jury was unable to reach a verdict; Mark O'Mara hopes for a fair trial.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 2315 GMT (0715 HKT)
Is ballet dying? CNN spoke with Isabella Boylston, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, about the future of the art form.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 2147 GMT (0547 HKT)
Sally Kohn says it's time we take climate change as seriously as we do warfare in the Middle East
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1927 GMT (0327 HKT)
Laurence Steinberg says the high obesity rate among young children is worrisome for a host of reasons
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Dean Obeidallah says an Oklahoma state representative's hateful remarks were rightfully condemned by religious leaders..
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1922 GMT (0322 HKT)
No matter how much planning has gone into U.S. military plans to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Arab public isn't convinced that anything will change, says Geneive Abdo
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1544 GMT (2344 HKT)
President Obama's strategy for destroying ISIS seems to depend on a volley of air strikes. That won't be enough, says Haider Mullick.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Paul Begala says Hillary Clinton has plenty of good reasons not to jump into the 2016 race now
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1501 GMT (2301 HKT)
Scotland decided to trust its 16-year-olds to vote in the biggest question in its history. Americans, in contrast, don't even trust theirs to help pick the county sheriff. Who's right?
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0157 GMT (0957 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1547 GMT (2347 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says the foiled Australian plot shows ISIS is working diligently to taunt the U.S. and its allies.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1958 GMT (0358 HKT)
Young U.S. voters by and large just do not see the midterm elections offering legitimate choices because, in their eyes, Congress has proven to be largely ineffectual, and worse uncaring, argues John Della Volpe
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0158 GMT (0958 HKT)
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1831 GMT (0231 HKT)
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1427 GMT (2227 HKT)
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1448 GMT (2248 HKT)
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 2315 GMT (0715 HKT)
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 0034 GMT (0834 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
ADVERTISEMENT