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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Why Winning The War May Cost the Vote

Winning the Cold War, as George Bush likes to put it, is costing him this election. The main reason why this economic recession is different from all those dips in the business cycle that went before is that America is suffering the collapse of the Cold War economy.


Across America, Bush is 10 to 12 percentage points behind Bill Clinton in the polls. In California, the state where aerospace and defense plants and Pentagon research labs thrived with the Cold War, Bush is currently 21 percent behind.


"In all the polling I have done in this state since World War II, and I've been reviewing polls since the 1930s, I have never seen antipathy toward an incumbent president as great as this", said Mervin Field, the veteran of California's pollsters. Since February 1990, unemployment in California has doubled to just under 10 percent of the workforce, two points higher than the U. S. average. This has not happened since the 1930s.


California used to be immune from recessions. But this most populous of American states. with just over 30 million people and an economy that rivals Britain and Italy for the title of tne world's sixth largest, has lost 900, 000 defense and aerospace jobs in the last two years. For the first time in its history, more people are leaving California than are coming in (illegal immigrants from Mexico not included).


"California just isn't California any more", says David Hayes-Bautista, a sociology professor at U. C. L. A. and a prominent intellectual in the fast-growing Latino community. "The land of milk and honey has dried up, and the end of that dream means there is a psychological component to this recession which will not be easy to heal".


"And the reason for the great disillusion", he added, "is that this is our first middle-class recession. The end of the Cold War means that managers and executives, highly-skilled engineers and foremen and research scientists, are now the people losing their jobs".


Americans do not elect their president directly, but through an electoral college where each of the 50 states has delegates in proportion to it's population. It takes 270 votes to win, and California accounts for 54 of them - or 20 percent. No Republican has been elected president without winning California for over 100 years. Clinton's campaign manager, John Emmerson, is so confident of winning California that he is sending staff and funds to other, more marginal states.


The modern Republican Party was born here in California, where Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan built their political base on the promise of prosperity that would last forever, just like the California sunshine.


And now George Bush is discovering how much of that prosperity depended on a Cold War that has finally ended.