By Daniel Smiechowski
On Nov. 8, 2016, at approximately 5 p.m., Californians were notified that the improbable had happened. Donald J. Trump had defeated former New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the must-win Keystone State — Pennsylvania.
Home to the Jesuits and priest-like Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, Pennsylvania lost more immigrant citizens during the Normandy Invasion than any state in the Union. The immigration wave from shortly before Word War I to the early 1920s brought Poles, Irish and Italians with conservative social values that continue today. It was a difficult environment for a female presidential candidate.
But in 2020, these same conservative voters will turn to the man from Scranton, former Vice President Joe Biden, whose mother was Irish. So will go the rest of the so-called Rust Belt.
The storm clouds are far and wide from the Twin Cities to Allentown. Conservative, salt-of-the-earth Democrats will break for Biden.
In Ripon, WI, where the Republican Party was founded, Hillary Clinton lost by a whisker in 2016. But in 2020 it is not unreasonable to expect Joe Biden to defeat Trump by 5 to 8 percentage points in the Badger State. The City of Churches, Milwaukee, home to Father James Groppi’s civil rights march in the Summer of 1967 which shook America to its core, is safe for Biden.
Donald Trump has miscalculated his signature campaign promise of avoiding international conflict. Instead he has brought conflict to our own nation through his nonsensical acerbic rhetoric and tone.
Fifty-two years ago, our cities burned over Vietnam. The religious left was impotent. Most young people did not even vote. There is no comparison to today’s America.
Republicans as diverse as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Sen. Mitt Romney, former President George W. Bush and possibly Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have given Trump the Jersey bounce. Mitt Romney’s Father was a former governor of Michigan and presidential candidate still beloved today in the Great Lakes State.
Former Senator and Secretary of State John Kerry’s razor thin loss in Ohio’s 2004 Presidential contest will not repeat itself. Kerry, a Democrat, only lost Indiana and Ohio against a sitting Republican President in the Rust Belt.
The battle for President of the United States will be in the Rust Belt. Trump’s berating of Biden as “sleepy Joe” is probably because the man from Scranton is giving him nightmares.
Daniel J. Smiechowski is a Bay Ho resident, prolific writer on education issues, and former candidate for San Diego Unified School District Board of Education and San Diego City Council. He grew up in Milwaukee.
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