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Steve Novotney Says, "Now What?"

By now you've at least digested the results even if you don't know what to expect from a Donald Trump presidency over the next four years.

No one does.

If someone insists he or she does know what the immediate agenda will include, the individual is merely dreaming of campaign promises about a wall and a ban and deportation and repeal of executive orders, the Affordable Health Care Act, and of free trade agreements with most of the free world. He spoke of isolationism, and people approved because, it seems, many have grown tired of America as the world's melting pot.

The presidential election was close by one count but not very by the system that was prescribed for the United States from the very beginning. The Electoral College (not the popular vote) determines the winner, and that is why Donald Trump became the president-elect. Secretary Hillary Clinton, as of this past weekend, was leading the individual count, but Trump secured enough from the Electoral College on Election Day to claim his highly doubted victory.

No one saw this coming, and if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, that person is again fantasizing about a bordered-off nation where political correctness was erased by a businessman who insulted everyone who dared to oppose his views on immigration, terrorism, the use of nuclear weapons, foreign relations, the trade deficit, and domestic policy. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, one of the original 18 GOP candidates in the presidential primary, even refused to attend the Republican's national convention in Cleveland and told reporters he wrote in Sen. John McCain, President Obama's opposition eight years ago. But it did not matter; Trump collected Ohio's 18 Electoral College voters, and he also won favor in battleground states like Wisconsin, Florida, and North Carolina.

So now what?

Before this week the president-elect had never met President Obama, and both men invoked hard and harsh terms when discussing each other. Following their first meeting, one that extended a little more than 90 minutes, both softened and talked about respect, future counsel, and success. There's no telling what "The Donald" learned that day because, while he was a political insider for more than two decades, only a few truly know our nation's place with the rest of the world.

Ohio County followed the state's other 54 counties and President-elect Trump claimed a decisive, two-for-one victory, and he recorded 69 percent of the vote in West Virginia. He won the Mountain State's five electoral votes so easily national news networks proclaimed the triumph even before voting locations closed. How that will translate as far as the coal industry, the overall economies, and for military members native to West Virginia and Ohio is even an unknown to municipal and county officials and to local labor leaders, too.

"After seeing what he has done over the last 30 years, I really don't know what to expect," said Fuzz LaRue, a representative of the West Virginia Building Trades. "I mean, other than P.T. Barnum is in the White House."

In May, voters in the city of Wheeling elected a new mayor and returned only one incumbent to its city council in Ward 2 representative Ken Imer. Mayor Glenn Elliott, a former Capitol Hill staff member for the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd during the 1990s, was confident Trump would win the Mountain State, but what promises he actually can keep is in question.

"President-elect Trump will enter office in the unusual position of having lower approval ratings than the outgoing president," Elliott said, "and while he will have a Republican Congress to implement his agenda, I expect him to have some difficulty delivering many of his campaign promises in an increasingly divided country."

Wheeling's Vice Mayor and Ward 1 Councilman Chad Thalman is concerned about the partisan atmosphere that continues to linger large over America.

"I'm not sure what to expect out of a Trump presidency, but I do hope that he can heal a divided county," he said. "His success is now our nation's success."

In Belmont County the residents and everyone connected to government are anxiously awaiting the final decision from Thailand-based PTT Global concerning the possible construction of a petro-chemical (cracker) plant in the Dillies Bottom area of the county. A "yes" from PTT would be a game-changer here in the Valley, on both sides of the Ohio River, because of the construction and permanent jobs AND because of the business that would likely follow such a project.

Mark Thomas, one of three Belmont County commissioners, said the cracker project is an example of the realities President-elect Trump must accept before his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017.

"I'm not sure if anyone really knows what to expect," he said, "but I know it's going to be interesting just based on what he promised and the fact that now he has to soften the rhetoric because our economy is a global economy, and that is something he cannot change no matter what he does or says."

- Steve Novotney

Categories: Commentary