Column: The Presidential Race: A Greenwich Perspective

By John Blankley
Sentinel Columnist

How will Greenwich be impacted by national elections this year? Who should Greenwich vote for? This may strike you as a parochial note, but elections really do have consequences and Greenwich, as well as the whole state, could be mightily affected.

But before diving in, here’s a famous caveat: a week is a long time in politics—the dictum of former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Several days hence, who knows how the political world will have changed? But for now, “Super Tuesday” has confirmed Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as the front-runners.

A presidential election is always important, but that is even truer this year, with so many social and economic issues at stake. We Democrats will be voting to preserve great advances, such as our first shot at universal health insurance and marriage rights for all, regardless of gender. We’ll vote for a leader committed to universal immigration reform and women’s health, embodied in Planned Parenthood. How ironic that a Republican patriarch from Greenwich, Senator Prescott Bush, was instrumental in the founding of Planned Parenthood! Even the most uninterested citizen must be aware that the choice of the next Supreme Court justice will have ramifications for the life and direction of our society for decades to come and most must be aware that Republicans are once again obstructing progress. Only President Clinton will move us away from the stultifying legal philosophy of originalism in future appointments to SCOTUS.

In the end, however, the big issue is still jobs and the economy, and that goes for Greenwich as much as anywhere else. Only a major fiscal stimulus that invests in new infrastructure will really make a difference that most people will notice in their daily lives. We all know, even Republican “austerians,” that Connecticut’s aging roads, bridges and rail system need to be upgraded for the 21st century. Our Washington representatives, Senator Blumenthal and Congressman Himes, both Greenwich residents and both pushing hard for this much needed infrastructure renewal, will work with a newly elected President Clinton to reinvest at home to create jobs and boost our national and state economies.

Let me hammer the point home: domestic spending will be good for the country, good for Connecticut and good for Greenwich, and only President Clinton will do this. President Trump will waste money on a wall to keep out immigrants when all the statistics show a net outflow of illegals in recent years. And in what alternative universe does he think Mexico will pay for his wall? So the right kind of investment will achieve the much-desired economic multiplier effect. Trump’s wall is the wrong kind, and by the way, so was Mitt Romney’s plan to spend an extra $2 trillion over 10 years on defense. This military Keynesianism would have given an incredible boost to Connecticut’s defense sector; great for us, of course, but what a waste of resources for the country as a whole.

What about Trump’s plan to reduce taxes, I hear you ask? Like all the Republican candidates, he’s pushing tax breaks for the wealthy, and clearly some in Greenwich would be better off. But for the rest of us, his plan is trickle down, supply-side economics, and it has always failed. Look at the latest experiment, the damage done to Kansas by Governor Brownback. When will Republicans ever listen to empirical evidence? The Laffer curve theory doesn’t work in practice.

What has been the local reaction to Donald Trump? Democrats I have polled informally think he is a laughable and shameful candidate. Among my Republican friends and acquaintances, I can sum it up by saying he is the new Palin. McCain lost Greenwich largely because of Palin. Trump is actually worse than Palin, because he is deliberately pandering to a disaffected layer of white society by scapegoating ethnic and religious minorities. Building a wall to keep out Mexicans; “rounding up” illegals; denying entry to Muslims—these constitute a nationalist and not a conservative policy, and no Republican I know subscribes to the bigotry inherent in these views. I don’t wonder that the national Republican establishment is panicking. Out of step, the chair of the local Republican Party endorsed Trump last week, but I think most local Republicans would agree with eBay’s Meg Whitman, who called him a dishonest demagogue.

So now you know the answers to my opening questions. Greenwich will vote for Hillary, and we’ll be saying Madame President for the first time in our history.

John Blankley came to America with his young family 32 years ago and has lived in Greenwich ever since. A former corporate executive and now small business owner and entrepreneur, he has served on the RTM and currently sits on the Board of Estimate and Taxation.

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