Will economic stress trump the future of American democracy in November? • Ohio Capital Journal

Will one of Donald Trump’s many potential dealbreakers be a deal-breaker for citizens who still haven’t decided who to vote for in November? The economy, which is seen negatively by most Americans, could be the biggest dealbreaker of all – but for Joe Biden, not for Trump.

With an incredibly important presidential election underway, many Americans, including myself, are concerned about the future of this country. Our primary concern is the continued threat to democracy, truth, and core American values ​​posed by Trump and his likeable allies inside and outside Congress.

In this never-ending nightmare, I’m beating my head against the wall wondering how millions upon millions of Americans can ignore the blaring warning signs announcing exactly what to expect if Trump wins, and, alternately, what to expect if he loses and – to the surprise of exactly no one – refuses to give in. If you think his and his allies’ knee-jerk reaction to his hush-money conviction was alarming, brace yourself for their response if he loses in November.

Since 2016, Trump has committed to what would be dealbreaker after dealbreaker after dealbreaker for any other candidate in any other era. Even his frequent, fact-based hate posts on social media would be enough to undermine the campaign of almost any other candidate. But ultimately, after the 2020 election, it turned out that he had gone too far. Inciting a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn a legal election would surely be the last straw for Americans already exhausted by years of Trumpian drama.


But what about all those crimes he faces in federal and state courts? What about his new status as a convicted felon after the recent trial in New York?

While it’s too early to say how that 34-felony conviction will affect Trump’s support, his poll numbers leading up to the trial were not affected by his many pending criminal cases or the civil cases already decided against him . With all that legal smoke wafting around this man, it’s a wonder his election prospects haven’t been dashed by smoke inhalation.

MY FAULT AND THAT OF MANY Like-minded concerns forget James Carville’s famous directive to Bill Clinton’s campaign in 1992, when Clinton successfully tried to oust President George HW Bush. Carville, then a strategist for the Clinton campaign, told campaign volunteers to do so remember three things:

  1. The economy, stupid.
  2. Change vs. more of the same.
  3. Don’t forget healthcare.

While #2 remains relevant in this election and #3 less so, history has preserved the first rule in stone: When voters see a bad economy, they will hold it against the current president, regardless of who is to blame. Sure, the US economy is doing well by many measures, and President Biden doesn’t get enough credit for getting the US through a tough pandemic/post-pandemic economy without a feared recession happening. Yet these evidence-based arguments tend to dissolve when household budgets struggle to stay in the black.

For many Americans who have doubts about the upcoming election, one trip to the grocery store is enough to push them off the fence and straight into the lap of the former president. All those $4.99 products that sold for $2.99 ​​a year ago, and gadzooks, a watermelon quarter that sold for $6.99 at the local Kroger!

High grocery prices, stubbornly high gasoline prices — still around $3.59 per gallon in much of Ohio at the time of this writing — and other painful cost increases could dim prospects for the aforementioned Trump dealbreakers. Sure, our democracy is under threat, Trump is a lying, lawless thug who could face years in prison, and he’s an unrepentant authoritarian to boot. But damn, what about two dollars for an avocado?!

THE TRUTH IS A LOT of the Americans who will decide these elections are not breathlessly following the latest news reports. What they see at the grocery store, the gas station, the car dealership, the monthly rent and on their paychecks is far more convincing than the news bulletins they half hear as they go about their daily lives. A young breadwinner making $14 an hour with no benefits and working the counter of an auto parts store will pay far more attention to immediate economic factors than talking heads wringing their hands about the future of democracy.

If called out for being Trump supporters, they might respond (with a strong dose of selective/repressive memory): “I don’t like him, but I sure miss his economy.”

And let’s face it: After years of Trumpian drama, many Americans are jaded. His latest outrage is just, well, his latest outrage, and nothing he can do surprises anyone anymore.

The November 2024 presidential election will test James Carville’s rule. How badly can the presidential challenger behave before that bad behavior overcomes the daily economic stress and sends that candidate home?

In a commentary posted on May 23, David DeWitt, editor-in-chief of the Ohio Capital Journal, pondered a similar question about the state of Ohio’s deeply dysfunctional politics.

In his thrilling opinion piece“Ohio Statehouse Republicans are determined to prove how toxic gerrymandering is,” DeWitt asked how corrupt, extreme, irresponsible and abusive the Republican-dominated Ohio Statehouse must be before the state’s voters finally say “enough.”

There are obviously different issues between presidential politics and state politics in Ohio, but both situations present defining tests for voters. In the presidential election, will they stand up for democracy, decency, truth, and historic American principles, or will they follow the path of least resistance – we need to do something about those high prices! – and let democracy fall by the wayside?

Whatever the answer, one thing is indisputable: we’ll find out soon enough.


Back To Top