Andrew Smith (OH): ‘The Federal Response Has Been Pretty Good Under the Circumstances’
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.
What do you think about the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic?
The federal response has been pretty good under the circumstances and getting better as time goes on. The emergency federal legislation will provide some relief to industries and individuals most affected, such as travel, hospitality, most retail, foodservice, etc., and hopefully will calm the great anxiety out there.
What do you think about the response in your state/community?
The local response is also pretty good under the circumstances. It changes every day and I have mixed feelings, for example, about closing the polls in the Ohio primary.
Has the threat from the virus been overblown?
This is very complicated, if for no other reason because the dramatic responses to limit social interactions will reduce the number of cases, and we will never know what would have been the case otherwise. Certainly, the reaction will save lives, and there will be a high social cost to these actions. The unanswerable question is whether less drastic actions would have saved about as many lives, but at a lower cost of disruption.
What measures have you taken in your own life to protect yourself and others from the virus?
Social distancing, including no-touch greetings where they still even take place; limiting commerce; reducing/eliminating in-office work hours; disinfecting more surfaces more often; greater attention to personal hygiene; more vitamins and rest.
If you are a Trump supporter or leaning toward voting for Trump, has his administration’s response to the pandemic affected your support for the president?
I don’t really qualify here as I am leaning towards Joe Biden, but the early Trump response was weak. He has improved in the last few days, but this should not be about Trump. The arms of the U.S. government that are charged with public health and emergency response are doing a good job and getting better each day. Trump failed to become an inspiring leader to assuage our concerns about the crisis as it was developing. Now that it is fully here, the crisis team seems to have found their footing.
Are you concerned about casting your ballot during the pandemic? Have you or did you already vote absentee?
Ohio’s vote was cancelled. I was planning to vote for Biden and will do so in person when the vote is held in June.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
The speed at which everything is moving here has surprised me, but I think it is appropriate: everyday government, businesses, and individuals are all making dramatic new changes in how they operate. I suspect this will continue for some time before we reach a steady state, but for now I expect continued uncertainty and intense social anxiety for some time.