From the Publisher: This One is Hard to Call

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Arnold G. York

I’ve been conducting a totally non-scientific survey of my Republican friends to try and get a feel of how they’re going to vote in the presidential contest this November. This is not an easy time to be a Republican. Some absolutely can’t stand Donald Trump, and the thought of supporting him makes them nauseous. At the same time, many can’t stand Hillary Clinton, and the thought of supporting her makes them equally as nauseous. It’s very difficult to compare relative nauseousness.

At the same time, it’s becoming apparent that this presidential race could be a lot tighter than many thought. First, I believe that there are many more Democrats — particularly in labor — who might very well go for Trump. They are white, they are older, they are in craft unions, which are in decline and they feel it slipping away from them, which is pretty much the profile of the Trump voter. On the other hand, there is a not inconsiderable amount of Republican establishment voters who are appalled by Trump’s style, and might feel more comfortable marking the ballot for Clinton.

So to try and figure it out, I drilled down a bit. 

How do you feel about Obama? Well, they hate him. They believe the country has gone to hell. The economy is collapsing. No one respects us anymore. It’s a story I’ve heard from Republicans many times before. When I try to give them some facts that contradict their narrative, they simply don’t believe it, which is an indication of a major problem in our world. Everyone appears to have their own facts. Most people believe that their belief is a fact.

The deeper you go, the more it feels like people are blaming their leaders for a world that is changing, and if change is scary, the fear that no one can control the change is even scarier. That is the area that Trump stepped into. His mantra is that it’s not that complicated; I can fix it. What have you got to lose? Take a flyer on someone different. 

With all that’s going on in this world, you can begin to understand why that message is resonating. The world is globalizing, which means a lot more people are in the game. The U.S. is still the biggest player in the world game but China is moving up quickly, although their economy may be a little shaky and going into a bust cycle. Free international trade may be good for America and American industry but not so good for many American workers, and we’ve failed to provide them a safety net and things are worsening for many of them, which is why they are so angry. 

You can count among those angry people both Trump supporters and Bernie Sanders supporters who feel the same way. The theory was that technology raises all the boats and creates opportunity for all. Maybe so. Perhaps it enhances opportunity for kids who can program and work at Yahoo, but for the average factory worker, technology is a killer, and the next generation of robots is going to make it even worse. We’ve made progress, and woman and minorities are now in the workforce, but at the same time, it has pushed a bunch of guys, especially older guys, out of the workforce, probably before their time. The environmental movement has helped clean up our air and water, but it also has moved a great deal of manufacturing out of the LA Basin. No more steel mills, no fabricators, no plating shops, no dirty but well-paid industrial jobs. We have also passed all sorts of laws to block rampant growth and urban sprawl, and protected the coast, and now Los Angeles is one of the least affordable cities in the country. We’ve actually just passed San Francisco on that unaffordable list.

So if the Republicans have a dilemma with Trump, the Democrats have an equally large dilemma with Clinton.

Our changing world has produced winners and losers, which is what this presidential election is all about. Business as usual is not going to fly, and, frankly, unless Clinton gets her “A” game going, she could lose this one.