What does a Trump win mean for the adult nightclub industry at large? ACE Executive Director Angelina Spencer spoke to club owners Jerry Westlund and Joe Redner—both of whom spoke on the “Election” Legal Panel at EXPO 2016—and others to get their take on what impact this stunning election may have.
In one of the most shocking upsets in American political history, Republican nominee, Donald Trump beat his Democratic opponent Hilary Clinton to become our 45th U.S. President. Almost every political pundit, poll and media outlet had written off the billionaire businessman as a sure loser but he secured a whopping 290 electoral votes while losing the popular vote 46.1% to Clinton’s 48.1% [Clinton had over two million more votes than Trump—Ed.].
President-elect Trump is the first person voted into his position without having served in the military or held political office. He was helped along by an unexpected surge of support from mostly white, rural voters (he won 58% of them compared to Clinton’s 37%), easily sweeping victories in Rust Belt swing states such as Ohio, and picking up Pennsylvania, Virginia, Nevada, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Will Trump’s win mark a ‘thunderous repudiation of the status quo’ as the Financial Times reports? Or will it usher in a new era of unprecedented inequality and deepen the already heavy cracks in our “melting pot,” as the New York Times predicts? What does a Trump presidency mean for us?
Most media outlets claim no one really knows because the President-elect hasn’t had an opportunity to focus on a particular issue, but if temperament is any indication of his leadership style, some fear our diverse nation of 320 million people will wind up under the thumb of this new president’s nuclear winter.
“People need to relax,” says Jerry Westlund, ACE National Board member and owner of the Pony Clubs and Fantasy Show Club chains. “This is not going to be as bad as everyone thinks it will be and in fact, will likely be very good for us.”
In addition to owning clubs and serving on the ACE National Board, Westlund worked for several years as a highly respected and influential California lobbyist and still has extensive connections, including those that now lead straight up the White House steps.
Westlund cites some Libertarian cabinet picks, marijuana reform and a four-state raise in the minimum wage as examples of how “We the people…” still chart our own course. He says that although a conservative shift has taken place at the national level, states’ rights and “the people” will have better standing to prevail on issues such as job growth, small business, taxes, and government staying out of consenting adults bedrooms.
“I think we’ll see, as business owners, bigger tax cuts, an increase in defense spending, which always drives more business to clubs where bases are near, and major deregulation of U.S. business,” Westlund says. “That’s a good thing.”
Westlund may be onto something. In October, the Obama administration requested record funding from Congress for both the Department of Labor and IRS to work together to
go after those businesses they deem “regularly and willingly” misclassified employees, which included a list showing adult entertainment clubs. Request denied.
Clinton made misclassification a platform topic, hoping for a federal mandate on minimum wage and increased taxes on small business. She did not believe in the use of arbitration agreements either and none of her campaign staff had to sign them. Trump, on the other hand, always uses arbitration agreements.
“Trump and his businesses seem to have been big proponents of arbitration, using it as a way of getting disputes out of courts and therefore out of the public eye,” defense attorney Liz Kramer told Bloomberg BNA. Kramer, of Stinson Leonard Street LLP in Minneapolis, writes for her firm’s blog Arbitration Nation.
“Given his overall ‘change’ message, and repeated criticism of all things Obama, my gut tells me his administration will roll back these regulations,” she says.
Additionally, Congressional House Resolution 6326, introduced in November, prohibits any new major rule on wage and hour regulations from taking effect until the Secretary of Labor conducts a study to determine the impact of such rule on wages and employment. This resolution was quickly followed by a federal judge’s decision to grant a preliminary injunction and delay implementation of DOL overtime regulations. This injunction and the uncertainty that follows it may initially cause confusion with companies but is expected to hold and be a boon for business.
Alternatively, The Communications Workers of America filed a December complaint with the Labor Department’s Wage & Hour Division claiming that government contractors such as the Lionel Corp. “has misclassified and underpays workers.” President Obama took action to protect contract workers in his 2014 “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” executive order, that allows agencies to bar federal contractors with workplace violations, but it was struck down by a Texas federal judge. Another executive order raised the hourly minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 and the administration announced that all federal contractors must offer “sick leave” to employees.
Whether or not these orders will become reverse directives is unknown under President-elect Donald Trump but he did promise to “cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama.” Additionally, Trump has vowed to kill the Dodd-Frank banking reforms and President Obama’s “Clean Power” plan.
Other club owners do not share Westlund’s enthusiasm and fear Trump and his cronies are about to embark on a reckless and radial experiment in greedy and impulsive ignorance masquerading as conservative government.
“This is bullshit,” Joe Redner, owner of Mons Venus in Tampa, Florida, SEA member and recent Florida state senate candidate says. “We’ve got a liar and a con man headed to the White House. Everything he says is a lie. He’ll curtail freedom of speech and the press, load the Supreme Court with loonies from the Stone Age and completely pollute our country with his promise to tear up any progress we’ve made on climate change. How in the hell can a bunch of idiots elect a guy who insults women, promises to break up families with massive deportations and supports racism, anti-Semites and white supremacists? This isn’t a revolution, it’s a fucking train-wreck.”
One thing is clear: Trump’s ride to power gives Republicans a big boost in Congress. They retained majorities in both the Senate and the House, giving the GOP complete control of Capitol Hill. In fact, Republican senators will head into 2018 midterms with a map so favorable that a filibuster-proof, 60-seat majority may be within easy reach, according to CNN.
“America will be fine,” says Westlund. “I think his crude, no-nonsense, anti-politically-correct rhetoric will actually turn out to work for the common good. It was time for the ‘establishment’ regime to go. They weren’t making any real progress and all of us have been miserable for years.”
“Trump’s proposals are un-American and wrongheaded, and many are unlawful, too,” Redner argues. “He’ll be back-pedaling on all of his promises because it’s not possible to keep them. There will be no wall, thousands of people won’t be deported, the rich will get richer, inequality will get worse, taxes go up for the worker and so does the cost of living and consumer goods. The only people who will be enriched under a Trump regime will be his family and his ass-kissing cronies. This guy does not care about you or me or America. He only cares about himself and getting attention.”
What happens next?
It’s likely Congress will get started filling Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat in the Supreme Court, left vacant after his death, working on ways to replace or fix the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and preparing whopping spending bills on infrastructure and the military.
Not every Republican is on the Trump train, though, or espouses shutting down free trade or dusting off Iran’s nuclear program. Senators such as Ben Sasse and Mike Lee are staunchly pro free trade. And although Republicans rode on Trump’s coattails to resurgence, some of them are quite moderate.
Consequently, Trump has created a mix of Libertarian and Fundamental conservatives in his cabinet, those who think social issues are best left to adults versus those who feel the U.S. should be led under their brand of patriarchal “Christian Values.” Somehow, they, and us, will have to find a way to work together, and perhaps that too, is part of Trump’s plan. Or not.
Angelina Spencer Executive Director of ACE National and is the President of Empowerment Enterprises, Ltd. a political management and media relations firm based in Washington, D.C., which manages the ACE National Account. She is also a registered federal and Florida Lobbyist. To contact Angelina, call (202) 220-3019 or email email@example.com.