Here’s what her small business supporters fear the most about Hillary Clinton

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

According to a recently released survey, more than 94 percent of small business owners intend to vote this election and about 15 percent remain undecided. The other 85 percent? They’ve chosen sides. I know and work with many of these people. And yes, they are loyal to their candidate.

Those who support Donald Trump do so regardless of his latest antics. Sure, some are perturbed by his behavior. But, as business owners, they like what he has to say. They want a harder line on trade and immigration. They are frustrated with the country’s slow economy. They desire less taxes and regulation. They are not fans of Obamacare and or even President Obama. They like Trump’s outsider appeal, his “I don’t care what they think of me” attitude and of course his business background. These people will vote Trump come November, despite (or maybe because of) what the media or anyone else has to say about him.

Hillary Clinton’s small business supporters can be just as loyal. Contrary to Trump’s following, they were and continue to be supporters of President Obama. Of course, they’re wary about taxes and regulations. And they’re concerned over whether her recent economic plan will spark the growth that they’ve been hoping for. But slow growth or not, they’ve still profited over the past eight years and appreciate the relative economic stability and scandal-free administration that the president oversaw. Maybe Clinton’s administration won’t be as scandal-free. But her appeal, of course, is that she’ll continue on with Obama’s populist policies. She’ll stand behind Obamacare and promises to go after Wall Streeters and the very rich. Many small business owners I know – shopkeepers, restauranteurs, freelancers, service providers – also resent the very rich.

As a business owner, part of the reason you’re voting for Hillary Clinton is because you support what she wants to do for small business. You buy into her “level the playing field” speeches. You like her ideas to create more capital and financing opportunities and for reducing the federal bureaucracy. Clinton has promised to be America’s “small business president,” helping entrepreneurs get paid faster from big companies and investing in incubators, mentoring and training. Hillary Clinton’s small business supporters also like her because she’s Hillary Clinton. They liked her husband when he was president. They like her experience, her toughness, her intelligence and her durability.

But they have a fear about their candidate. A big fear.

That fear is Hillary Clinton herself. She’s polarizing. Many in her own party don’t like her. Most Republicans don’t like her. If she wins in November she’ll bring decades of…well…the Clintons back to Washington. And they may not be welcome by a large contingent of those already there. These are the people who will do everything they can to stand in her way. And they will continue to do everything they can to pounce if ethical lapses occur. Some of this will be justified. But a great deal will be just politics. For her small business supporters, the reasons won’t matter. No one is expecting her to bring “hope” or “change” to Washington. She will likely not be a reconciler or a peacemaker. She is Hillary Clinton and she’s going to want to do things her way.

As I write this, Clinton is pulling away in the polls. Trump is alarmingly losing popularity in states like Texas. Even the Wall Street Journal raised eyebrows in an opinion piece this week, warning the Republican candidate to “stop blaming everyone else and decide if he wants to behave like someone who wants to be president—or turn the nomination over to Mike Pence.” And yet, Clinton continues to be disliked by as much as 60 percent of the voting public.

Clinton’s arrival in D.C. is likely to be greeted by decades of simmering, acidic and malicious loathing. She will be faced with a herculean task: how to unify a bitterly divided populace. Failure to do so will inevitably mean more of the same behavior in Washington that has alienated so many and caused such stalemate. The small business owners I know who support Clinton don’t want that. They want her to do what she plans to do. To do that they expect her to do is what they would do: compromise, deal, negotiate. Govern. Lead. Their fear is that this will not happen.


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