In January 2016, then-Republican frontrunner Donald Trump boasted about nothing being able to hurt his campaign, saying:
“I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”
Apparently, what he can not do is threaten their livelihood.
According to a new report by NBC News, the GOP could face a crisis come November concerning farmers and Trump, and they could be in deep trouble if Trump’s rural supporters come to believe that his trade policies hurt more than they help.
According to one farmer, the president’s volatility – his chief attribute – could be the very factor driving an upturn in anxiety among his rural voters.
“‘This kind of chaotic volatility in our trading relationships damages the market,’ [Ben] Steffen, who runs the farm with his wife, his sister and four full-time employees, said in a telephone interview with NBC News. ‘The market responds and the prices are erratic and that’s destabilizing for people out here on the bottom end producing feed and food.'”
Unfortunately for Steffer, the president has a seemingly virtuosic ability to craft policies that are “destabilizing” for those on the “bottom end.”
Early in his presidency, Trump bragged about saving over 800 jobs at a manufacturing plant called Carrier. However, the company promptly used the $16 million it saved to invest in automation, which, according to the CEO, will eventually replace those workers.
Trump looked good for saving the jobs, the company got a pay boost, and the workers got raked over the coals.
Agriculture threatens to follow a similar pattern for him, and according to the report, the GOP faces a big problem in the midterm elections if rural voters start feeling the sting of Trump’s aggressive (and ill-advised) trade agendas with Mexico, China, and Canada. And GOP candidates will have a hard time supporting the president while denouncing the trade policies he espouses that hurt their constituents.
However, it still seems incredible for some that there, in fact, is an issue, any issue, that could cause Trump’s voters to break with him, after supporting him through minimizing the negative impact of Nazis, weeks-long racist attacks on NFL players, and sexual and financial scandals of monumental proportions.
The answer lies in why they voted for him in the first place.
According to a piece in The Guardian published during the 2016 campaign:
“For his rivals, Trump has become a hard target to criticise because not all of his supporters are conservatives and many are most interested in his projection of strength, not where he stands on a particular issue.”
Trump’s supporters during the election had the luxury of prizing his shows of strength over his concrete promises, but now that he’s president, he must deliver. This is why trade threatens to be such a hot-button issue for Trump and the GOP in the 2018 midterms.
His supporters will either see dividends from policies he promises will be successful, or they will not, and no amount of bluster will be able to camouflage the numbers they see in their bank accounts.
At that time, they will have to make a choice between the ephemeral benefits of a persona, or the tactile consequences affecting their families, and it will not be a difficult one.
Eventually, if rural and farming voters become too anxious that the president and his party will not look out for their best interests, they will find someone who will.
Featured Image Via Pixhere.