FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Trump Told the Truth Where It Counted…for His Reelection

Much of the liberal commentary on Donald Trump’s State of the Union address a few days ago has focused on the outright lies he made, especially his saying that his administration was promoting the interest of people with pre-existing conditions from the medical insurance companies seeking to disqualify them. Yes, he lied, and he lied about undocumented immigrants being mainly “criminal aliens” and sanctuary cities as harboring criminals.

But where it counted for him, he told the truth. He began his speech with the state of the economy, and here he engaged in the usual exaggeration. But amidst those exaggerations were truths directed at the people who made him president, the white working class in the Rust Belt who accounted for the 79,000-plus votes that put him over the top against Hillary Clinton in 2016.

He said during the 2016 campaign that he would take the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). He did. He said he would scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He renegotiated it to brazenly benefit the United States. He said he would stand up to China, which he said was stealing American jobs and technology. He could point to his initiating a trade war with Beijing as a fulfilment of that promise.

Whether or not those acts will actually benefit the Rust Belt will long be a subject of debate. Neoliberals will continue to hold that, according to their theory, “on balance” or “in the long run,” the “aggregate data” will indicate a “loss” for the United States. But that is not what matters for those workers who deserted to Trump or stayed at home on election day in 2016.

What matters is that Trump stuck to his promises on reversing those policies that they felt were responsible for their loss of jobs or income. And to remind them that he kept the faith and that he expected them to keep the faith in return, he even mentioned some of the states by name in the course of the speech: Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

There’s much theorizing out there that Trump’s social media disinformation machine brought him victory in 2016 and will bring him victory again in 2020. Sure, the machine blasted out and is blasting out the lies non-stop. But hey, people are not stupid. The workers in those states will probably take the rest of the speech with a grain of salt, but their key takeaway will be Trump’s reminding them he kept the faith on the TPP, NAFTA, jobs, and China.

In the coming elections, the Democrats will again win the popular vote, perhaps by an even wider margin this time, despite the Trump disinformation machine. But the final outcome will again hinge on the Electoral College vote. With the blue state/red state divide remaining firm when it comes to most states, the 2020 elections will again turn on the swing states of the Mid-West, on the white working class in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and other Rust Belt states.

They’ve had four years to work on it, but Democrats still have absolutely no strategy to counter Trump’s triumphalist message to the workers in those states that deserted their traditional party of choice in 2016. They have to get their act together, or it’s four more years of Trump insanity.

This article first appeared on FPIF.

More articles by:

Walden Bello, a columnist for Foreign Policy in Focus,  is the author or co-author of 19 books, the latest of which are Capitalism’s Last Stand? (London: Zed, 2013) and State of Fragmentation: the Philippines in Transition (Quezon City: Focus on the Global South and FES, 2014).

Weekend Edition
August 07, 2020
Friday - Sunday
John Davis
The COVID Interregnum
Louis Yako
20 Postcard Notes From Iraq: With Love in the Age of COVID-19
Patrick Cockburn
War and Pandemic Journalism: the Truth Can Disappear Fast
Eve Ottenberg
Fixing the COVID Numbers
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Every Which Way to Lose
Paul Street
Trump is Not Conceding: This is Happening Here
Robert Hunziker
The World on Fire
Rob Urie
Neoliberal Centrists and the American Left
John Laforge
USAF Vet Could Face ‘20 Days for 20 Bombs’ for Protest Against US H-Bombs Stationed in Germany
Andrew Levine
Clyburn’s Complaint
Kavaljit Singh
Revisiting the Idea of Pigou Wealth Tax in the Time of Covid-19
Paul Ryder
Here Come the 1968 Mistakes Again
T.J. Coles
Fighting Over Kashmir Could Blow Up the Planet
David Macaray
Haven’t We All Known Guys Who Were Exactly like Donald Trump?
Conn Hallinan
What’s Driving the Simmering Conflict Between India and China
Joseph Natoli
American Failures: August, 2020
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid or One State: Has Jordan Broken a Political Taboo?
Bruce Hobson
The US Left Needs Humility to Understand Mexican Politics
David Rosen
Easy Targets: Trump’s Attacks on Transgendered People
Ben Debney
The Neoliberal Virus
Evelyn Leopold
Is Netanyahu Serious About Annexing Jordan Valley?
Nicky Reid
When the Chickens Came Home to Roost In Portlandistan
Irma A. Velásquez Nimatuj
The Power of the White Man and His Symbols is Being De-Mystified
Kathy Kelly
Reversal: Boeing’s Flow of Blood
Brian Kelly
Ireland and Slavery: Framing Irish Complicity in the Slave Trade
Ariela Ruiz Caro
South American Nations Adopt Different COVID-19 Stategies, With Different Results
Ron Jacobs
Exorcism at Boston’s Old West Church, All Hallows Eve 1971
J.P. Linstroth
Bolsonaro’s Continuous Follies
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
Right-Wing Populism and the End of Democracy
Dean Baker
Trump’s Real Record on Unemployment in Two Graphs
Michael Welton
Listening, Conflict and Citizenship
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump Is The Only One Who Should Be Going To School This Fall
John Feffer
America’s Multiple Infections
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Thinking Outside the Social Media Echo Chamber
Andrea Mazzarino
The Military is Sick
John Kendall Hawkins
How the Middle Half Lives
Graham Peebles
The Plight of Refugees and Migrant Workers under Covid
Robert P. Alvarez
The Next Coronavirus Bill Must Protect the 2020 Election
Greg Macdougall
Ottawa Bluesfest at Zibi: Development at Sacred Site Poses Questions of Responsibility
CounterPunch News Service
Tensions Escalate as Logging Work Commences Near Active Treesits in a Redwood Rainforest
Louis Proyect
The Low Magic of Charles Bukowski
Gloria Oladipo
Rural America Deserves a Real COVID-19 Response
Binoy Kampmark
Crossing the Creepy Line: Google, Deception and the ACCC
Marc Norton
Giants and Warriors Give Their Workers the Boot
David Yearsley
Celebration of Change
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail