Andrew Smith (57), a Republican from Columbus, OH, grew up in Maine where he was raised Conservative, “because that’s pretty much all we had up there.” He is a long-time Republican who can’t stand Trump, and he voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. When he married Lavea Brachman, a Democrat, who is also being interviewed for this project, he went to work in his in-laws’ paint and resin business in Columbus. He is now CEO.
We are providing the unfiltered opinions of voters interviewed for this project. Those views are based on their understanding and perception of facts and information from a range of sources. In some cases, that information may be misleading or incorrect.
What are your reactions to the protests occurring across the country? It’s a legitimate point to make about police using excessive force. Protesting is an honorable and appropriate way to express great concern.
What are your reactions to the looting, curfews and the police response of pepper spray, rubber bullets and arrests? I am saddened and disheartened by the looting. The curfews are necessary. The pepper spray is better than non-lethal force but should be used carefully while the rubber bullets are potentially lethal and should not be used except as a last resort. Arrest should happen only if necessary, but sometimes it is necessary.
What do you think about the call to “defund” police departments? It is impractical, unrealistic, and unsafe. There are many potential reforms available as an alternative.
Have you participated in any demonstrations? While other family members have participated, I have not, mostly because I do not agree with many of the objectives of the protesters which have been somewhat vague. I find there are other ways to make my views known. Also, I generally do not like large crowds, which in this case could potentially be unruly ones, even without the risks of COVID-19.
How do you think the president has handled this crisis? How has Joe Biden handled this crisis? The President has handled this crisis poorly. Joe Biden has not handled it at all.
Have the events that have taken place over the last week changed your views on the upcoming Presidential election? It has solidified my view that Trump is simply not up to the job of being President, in many ways.
Do you think recent events will push people to one candidate or the other? I think this will affect people at the margins, but there’s a long way to go and it looks like it will be a long, hot summer. However, if the movement to radically restrict policing becomes more widespread, and is actively supported by Biden, I fear it will lead to a backlash against Biden by suburban voters, particularly if there is more violence. Those voters have generally been up for grabs, and Democratic strength in 2016 with this demographic was what turned the House. If a soccer mom must choose between a crazy, incompetent man who will protect her kids and a doddering but likable fellow who wants to take her cops away, I fear for the result.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us? The killing of George Floyd was horrible and disgusting, but I do not feel the criminal behavior of even a few bad cops is characteristic of policing generally. And while I acknowledge that blacks in America have had it rough, and that police relations with minority communities have a lot of room to improve, I am skeptical of the argument that it is as systematic or as widespread as alleged.