July 3, 2024
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Small business backlash fueled Trump’s victory


When the Business Times asked Labor Secretary Tom Perez last spring if the Obamacare mandates, new overtime rules and other new regulations amounted to a war on small business, he dismissed us with a wave of the hand.

“Predictions of disaster amount to exactly that,” he said.

On Nov. 8 the disaster arrived. And it will cost Perez his job. He, along with other Democratic Party insiders, will be swept out of office by the unexpected victory of Donald Trump.

The Democratic Party suffered a stunning loss as voters in rural parts of Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania staged a revolt against big government and big business. They also revolted against a media establishment that was in denial about the mood of the nation and never saw that voters were taking the assault on small business as real.

There will be a lot of talk about race, Brexit and rising populism as the experts wonder what when wrong with Hillary Clinton’s campaign and with the pollsters. It is also true that in California and the Northeast, Democrats ran up enough votes to win the popular contests.

But looking at the places on the map where Donald Trump pulled off his Electoral College upset underscores the fact that these are cities and towns and counties where small and medium-sized businesses predominate.

These are not the areas that benefited from the trillion-dollar bailout that went to Wall Street. These are places where businesses have found it harder and harder to get access to capital to grow — and their employees have found more and more roadblocks to buying a house, paying for college or starting a new venture.

Roughly half the workforce in the United States draws a paycheck from a company that’s considered a small business — most of us employ 25 or fewer people. The number of small businesses in the U.S. has been on the decline for years.

Our best guess would be that Trump outperformed Mitt Romney — a champion of big business — because his message of making it easier to succeed appealed to a wider group of Latino and African-American voters.

For California, it is worth noting that the state has gotten to the brink of delivering a supermajority to Assembly Democrats but pulled back. This should be a warning to the legislative leadership that it’s time for fiscal reform and figuring out how to cover our pension obligations. They increasingly will risk a backlash from the minimum wage hikes and farmworker overtime rules that have been put into place.

Election: The aftermath

Stunningly, it is now the Democratic Party that must conduct an “autopsy” on its disastrous defeat Nov 8.

The GOP, reeling after a divisive primary contest, managed to hold the Senate and continues to hold an advantage in statehouses across the country. A few thoughts:

• From Al Gore to John Kerry to Hillary Clinton, the Democrats have put up candidates who failed to energize a big enough group of voters in Midwestern swing states.

• The Clinton scandals and sense of entitlement were fatal. Voters in both the GOP and Democratic Party agreed that not having another president named Bush or Clinton again would be a good thing.

• Is there a built-in gender bias against women for president? Will it serve Democrats better to tack far to the left? Is there room for a new centrist party? These questions await another day.