As they navel-gaze, wondering why one of the biggest election machines in the country’s history lost to an under-funded, untutored, political outsider who was continually slammed by the media, Democrats should focus on -- Mrs. Perleman.
Mrs. Perleman, who owns and operates a successful skin care salon, voted for Donald Trump. She does not broadcast that decision because she lives in Manhattan and like so many others, has been shamed into hiding her choice. She is especially cautious since many of her clients are female and distraught that Hillary Clinton lost. (Respecting her discretion, this is not her real name.)
Her story, though, is worth telling because she is a voter who might not have emerged from the Democrats’ dissection of voter groups; she is not gay, nor black nor Hispanic. She is an immigrant here legally. She does not have a criminal record and does not have student debt. She does not get subsidies to pay the bloated premiums of Obamacare but instead has to manage that bramble on her own. In other words, she is not a party to any of the groups that Hillary Clinton most aggressively courted. She is, instead, a common sense hard-working American. And, yes, she is female, but that is, as it turns out, not a very compelling political motivator.
Mrs. P came to the U.S. more than 30 years ago from Russia. She arrived with her parents not knowing how to speak English, with little more than the clothes on their backs. They were Jews, escaping harsh treatment in their home country, and lured by the freedoms offered by the United States. They settled in a Russian community, learned to speak English, and made their way forward. Now, the family is prosperous and intensely patriotic. They know what the alternative looks like.
Mrs. P has voted for more than 25 years but never voted for a Republican. This time, she says, was different. She listened to Hillary Clinton and found little to like. She especially did not warm to Clinton’s vow to raise taxes. As a small business owner in New York, Mrs. P already struggles to make a living, paying taxes that are amongst the highest in the nation.
But it wasn’t all about tax policy. She also was offended by the ongoing charges of racism leveled by both Obama and Clinton. “I do not have a racist bone in my body,” says Mrs. P.; “I am tired of being told that I am racist and that this is a racist country. It is Obama who has brought race back to the conversation and who has divided the country.”
She is also not impressed with Obama’s management of the economy. She is not a fan of business regulations, which she claims have made life difficult. Instead of expanding her company, she must increasingly devote time and money on lawyers and accountants whose job it is to make sure she complies with a bewildering ever-expanding rule book.
Mrs. P is not alone, apparently. Small business owners, who have been repeatedly cited by President Obama as critical to job growth, are fed up.
They are fed up with federal dictates about pay and work rules and with spiraling red tape. They are frustrated by policies that complicate their efforts to grow their businesses, which employ about half of all private sector workers and which generated 60 percent to 80 percent of all net new jobs over the past decade. And they are really really tired of Obamacare.
Americans who do not operate their own businesses may not be aware of the thicket of new regulations that have threatened many establishments. Often it is not just the cost of new rules but the implementation that has so vexed those creating the nation’s jobs. For instance, a survey last year showed that it is not the dollars shelled out in taxes that small business owners resent; nearly 60 percent said it was the administrative burden of complying with a grossly complicated tax system. Do those folks cheer Trump’s promise to simplify the tax code? You bet.
Similarly, it is not only the cost of implementing Obama’s recent expansion of who is eligible for overtime pay – it is the administrative burden of complying with the new rules for millions of workers. Ditto the new rules on independent contractors, which emerging industries are struggling to master. There are some 10 million workers who currently fall into that classification; imagine the challenge for many start-ups charged with redefining their employees’ status.
It is not only the rules that sometimes defy logic; it is the threat of legal action by those exploiting the rules. For instance, it is not illegal for employers to ask if a candidate is married, is a smoker or has been in prison, but if such questions suggest an illegal bias, they could end up in hot water. In New York, the epicenter of nonsense, you are not allowed to ask an applicant about a gap on their resume. The employer, for instance, cannot investigate a multi-year void in someone’s life. Were they in prison? A mental hospital? In the Army? You can’t ask.
Like so many rules, these protections are meant well. But, they create uncertainty and make it harder to hire people. On the stump, Hillary Clinton paid lip service to cutting red tape for businesses, but then in the next breath advocated generous paid leave, a hefty hike in the minimum wage and other policies that are not only expensive but that require even more hours filling out forms.
Cutting red tape and lowering taxes on businesses have been derided by those on the Left as enabling dangerous behavior from corporate America. They have portrayed businesses as the enemy of working people. They totally lost track of the millions of people who are the bedrock of our economy, and whose frustration found an outlet in electing Mr. Trump. They too are working people -- like Mrs. Perleman – and they voted for change.