By Justin Wier
We are living in uncertain times, at least with regards to what will happen when President-elect Donald Trump takes office.
That was the underlying theme at the second meeting of the City Club of the Mahoning Valley. The discussion revolved around the election results and their effect on the country, the state and the Mahoning Valley.
The panel comprised journalists from the national, state and local level as well as Paul Sracic, chair of the department of politics and international relations at Youngstown State University.
Tim Francisco, professor at YSU and director of the Center for Working Class Studies, moderated the conversation. It touched on what the first 100 days of a Trump administration would look like, Supreme Court appointments, changing voting patterns in the Rust Belt and the Electoral College.
Karen Kasler, bureau chief for the Statehouse News Bureau in Columbus, said Trump has made a lot of promises to the people that backed him, and it will be difficult for him to put all of that into motion immediately.
“In 100 days, I think we’re going to get a sense of what he’ll do,” Kasler said. “But I don’t know how much will actually be accomplished, because that’s not a lot of time beyond setting a tone.”
Panelists suggested we would start to see some movement on renegotiating trade, investing in infrastructure, loosening regulations and cutting taxes.
Looking at changing demographics, Marilyn Geewax, senior business editor at National Public Radio, said the aging population in the Great Lakes region makes it difficult to imagine a future in which the Rust Belt plays a significant role in elections.
“How many people are moving to Northeast Ohio?” she asked. “Is Donald Trump’s argument for steel and coal going to bring young people to this region? … That might be a tough sell.”
Sracic said Ohio reflects the nation, having voted for the president in every election since 1964, but it’s beginning to diverge, because the Latino population hasn’t grown in Ohio at the same rate it has nationally.
He also said arguments that whoever won the popular vote would have won the popular vote without the Electoral College overlooks the fact that candidates would have campaigned differently under those rules.
“Your strategy is based on the rules of the game,” he said. “And the rules of the game right now are win the majority of electoral votes, not the popular votes.”
On issues of diversity, Geewax said the coarsening of political dialogue might deter potential future female candidates from following in Hillary Clinton’s footsteps and running for president.
Youngstown resident Gary Davenport asked why no people of color were present on the panel given the prominence of race in this year’s election.
Doug Livingston, political reporter for the Akron Beacon Journal, responded by addressing the lack of diversity among journalists.
Francisco added that they invited Henry Gomez from Cleveland.com to participate on the panel, but he was not available. But he agreed that diversity in journalism is an issue.
“The playing field at the [major market] level is frankly unlevel,” he said. “Really, institutionally, mainstream journalism is not representative of the diversity of America.”
Another questioner asked the panelists whether America and the rest of the world is in for a bumpy four years.
David Skolnick, politics reporter for The Vindicator, agreed with the rest of the panel that the next four years will be unpredictable.
“We’ve got a guy who’s going to be President of the United States, who’s never run for township trustee,” he said. “So I’ll [say that’s] true.”