I don’t know about you, but I am loving the Democratic primaries so far, especially the collateral benefit. And the benefit of having 20+ presidential candidates scurrying hither and yon, with a Halley’s comet tail of reporters behind them is, that the candidates are only speaking, especially to reporters a finite amount of time. Which leaves the reporters with oodles of empty time to fill, which they do mostly by talking to people who actually live where they are. And who knows what juicy tidbits you can discover when the “man on the street” shares what’s on his widdle mind.
For instance, a few weeks ago I wrote an article about a farmer in Wisconsin who headed a farmers association. He was mickle displeased because he had just learned for the first time that Mexicans didn’t actually pay for those farm buyouts through tariffs, like Trump claimed, he was actually receiving a handout from US taxpayer dollars. “Farmers don’t want handouts, farmers want markets to sell their goods” was the prevalent theme. He was actively educating his fellow farmers about the insidious con that had been played on them by Il Dupe.
Another one popped up in an interview the other day. This farmer was a soy and corn farmer in Iowa, and he also had soured significantly on Trump after voting for him in 2016. Like the Wisconsin farmer, his beefs were similar, but he added another wrinkle that hasn’t gotten much attention. Iowa has been flooded with rain, and the majority of his crop wasn’t even in the ground yet. He was more than ready to acknowledge climate change and global warming as the culprits, and wanted the Trump administration to wake up and start dealing with the issue. He too was educating brother farmers, and also had little to no interest in gibing Trump a second chance.
I also noted Trump’s difficulties in the northeast, where shrimpers and lobster men were taking it in the shorts two ways. One, they aren’t considered “farmers,” so they don’t qualify for the handouts that the crop farmers do. And two, they need those handouts desperately, because they lost an estimated $1 billion in foreign revenue last year, mostly victims of contracts they had spent years building and cultivating in China.
And now, Trump has added another enemy to his growing list, and this one may be the deadliest one of all, long haul truckers. Chris Jansing of MSNBC had 8 of them around a table at a truck stop diner last week for a chat, and they were definitely birds of very ruffled plumage. Many long haul truckers are actually a two man corporation. They have mortgaged themselves to the hilt to buy their rig, their spouse does the scheduling and the books, and they drive. They had two major beefs. First, Trump’s vaunted tax cuts hosed them badly. Mainly because the new law obliterated the “per diem” tax deductions that most of them survive on. One complained that not only didn’t his taxes go down, he lost more than $7,000 due to no longer being able to deduct things like meal expenses, lodging, and other necessities for life on the road.
Their second complaint was regulations. Many of them pointed out that for all of Trump’s blather about being a truck lovin’ fool, they were still laboring under regulations going back to the Obama era themselves, while Trump’s cabinet secretaries were unshackling deep pocket, big business donors from the evils of the Obama administration. Like almost every other Trump voter with 12 functioning brain cells, they feel that they have been betrayed, played for their votes, and tossed under the bus. The reason I say truckers can be so devastating for Trump is that unlike people in most sedentary jobs, truckers are bumping into other truckers all the time, and they’re usually different truckers from the last ones. Word of mouth can cause a real loss of votes from a group that Trump seems to think that he has in the bag.
Are these kinds of defections enough to cost Trump a deep red state like Kansas or Indiana? Probably not, But that isn’t what this is about. Remember, Trump won the electoral college by 77,000 votes in three states, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. All three flipped blue big time in 2018. Think there might by let’s say an average of 25,000 pissed off farmers, truckers, their spouses and their friends in each of those states? We shall see soon enough. And also remember this. In some of these deep red states, Trump’s strength comes from rural counties and districts, which are sparsely populated. Losing some farmers may not be enough to cost Trump the state, but it could be enough to flip some House districts, as well as seats in state legislatures.
The positive thing about this is that it’s a vicious, self repeating cycle. If Trump slaps Mexico with tariffs on Tuesday, it’s not just farmers and truckers who are going to feel it, it’s small parts manufacturers in Michigan who send parts for cars to Mexico to be assembled before shipping them back to be installed. Your Cerveza is going to cost more, and so is your guacamole. Even if you don’t buy guacamole, the price of your belly bomb burrito at Chipotle’s is going to go up.Trump is a man on a mission, and there’s so much to fuck up, yet so little time. Don’t touch that dial.