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Trump Voters Who Are Most Economically Fragile Will Feel Worst Results Of Policy Shifts

November 10, 2016

For years when working in local politics, and later during my years at the Wisconsin Statehouse, it was a fact that farmers would vote Republican and then complain about the policies that were implemented.  But come the next election those same voters had not learned anything and repeated the same pattern at the ballot box.  That was due to not enough attention paid to the actual policy needs of the communities where these voters lived.

On Tuesday–as we heard through much of the primary and general election season–a very strong statement was made about trade deals.  Voters who heard sound bites or read headlines, but for the most part never entertained the facts, let emotions sway their voting.  A vote that–this year more than ever before–should have been a most cerebral undertaking.

What so many of these angry white people failed to understand is that trade is such an elemental part of the modern global economy.  Upending those international links will produce the opposite effect of what they hoped for when voting.  What they were thinking, in fact, would damage economic growth.  If Trump’s policies were to be placed into effect it would diminish prosperity for all–not only here but with nations we have trading agreements with, too.  And that then impacts the stability of world partners.

During the election Trump threatened to slap tariffs on Chinese imports and to punish American companies that manufacture their products in Mexico. Those words brought shrieks of pleasure from the mouths of those at Trump rallies and made for a winning vote total in the Electoral College.  But such policy ideas would not make for sound policy choices and will not create viable job creation strategies.  And jobs seem to be the very thing Trump voters desire the most.

What the angry under-informed voters fail to grasp is our economy depends on access to a global supply chain.  One can not start to rip, tear, and bluster these agreements apart and not face serious and damaging consequences.  Regardless of what Trump supporters think the facts are–and facts do still matter even after Tuesday–Mexico and China are central actors in our inter-connected trade apparatus.

Therefore when there is tariff threats or an attempt to curtail private industry from working overseas it will increase costs for American households.  It Trump were to try too much with his bombast it might even ensnarl us in a trade war with China that would upend economic growth, perhaps on a global scale.

All this of course is more than what the average Trump supporter wants to hear.  I readily admit trade is not a sexy topic and there are no fun ways to gain knowledge on the fundamentals.   But taking the wrong path on trade will impact those most vulnerable in the nation–and it seems many of them turned to Trump in the presidential race.

I understand there is disgust for folks who have lots of books on their shelves at home and try to talk rationally about the affairs of this nation. We were shouted down and voted down this election.  I get it that those same voters are not going to regard the words like mine above with any sense of respect.  But I think it important we say it.  Not so we can later proclaim  ‘I told you so’, but instead to keep a sane conversation going now in this nation in the face of insanity.

If one were to champion a proposal for economic growth it would be a massive government funded infrastructure bill along the lines proposed by President Obama.  His bill was decried by the GOP Congress but it remains a most sound idea.  Get the blue collar workers engaged in solid jobs at remaking our airports, bridges and schools.  As a strong advocate of government spending to spur the economy this is one idea that Trump would find allies with in the Democratic Party.   (And support from this blogger.)   If Trump voters want to feel a positive impact they will stop mouthing the words of anti-free traders and embrace more government spending that will impact their wallets and improve the nation’s infrastructure.

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