Trump Attacks His Base

Donald Trump and Jerry Falwell Jr at Liberty University

President Trump is directly attacking his base, with the expectation that they will be unwilling to recognize his responsibility. It’s not the first time this has happened.

The most glaring example has been the American farm community. The trade wars initiated by the President have resulted in a twofold strike against American farmers; primarily, the loss of international markets for their products, which has driven down the return on crops like soybeans and corn. Secondarily, higher costs for farm equipment and construction supplies. The Des Moines Register had an article on May 10, 2019 that summed up the Iowan attitude: “It can’t get any worse.” A similar refrain is heard from those who farm pork, dairy products, seafood and more. Despite the pain, Trump retains the general support of farmers, although his popularity has slipped among them.

Another example is the white supremacist movement. While a case can be made that they supported Trump without Trump’s knowledge and against his desires (a poor case indeed, considering Bannon’s efforts to end the internal fighting among the groups and bring them aboard the Trump campaign) it is inarguable that Trump did, in fact, make statements which encouraged them. They felt he was their ideal candidate. After being elected, he has embraced Israel and has failed to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. The abuses of those attempting to cross the border and the labeling of African and Asian nations as “shithole countries” have been enough to maintain a general level of support, but for some the betrayals have been too much to bear, resulting in incidents like the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre and the Poway chabad attack.

The base of his support in Washington hasn’t been immune from the effects, either. Those who were among the first to promote him, like Jeff Sessions, Bill O’Reilly and Chris Christie, have learned all too well the Rick Wilson adage of “Everything Trump Touches Dies” applies first and foremost to political careers. Still, in keeping with the trend, even though there are more rumblings than ever about disapproval of Trump, the Republican Party machine is still firmly behind the man who is attacking it.

Fox News was the latest to feel the burn as Trump, momentarily given less than fawning praise and endless excuses, tweeted negatively about the organization which has been the linchpin of his media support because they released the results of a poll which showed him faring poorly. As expected, Fox continues to enthusiastically support the President.

None of these groups begin to approach the size or percentage of Trump’s true base, however. That base is the elderly, especially elderly Republicans.

A Pew Research study analyzed the voting data from 2016 and found that Trump won seniors 65 and older in the last Presidential election by a margin of 53-44. Arguments can be raised about how much of that group has fallen away from Trump over the course of the last two and a half years and their relative concentration for statewide races, but the fact remains that the elderly form the center of Trump’s fan base. Unsurprisingly, his support is highest among elderly working-class Republicans.

These are, for the most part, retirees. And those retirees are set to be the primary victims of Trump’s demanded interest rate cuts.

Rising interest rates hurt borrowers who are doing things like starting small businesses (profit or non-profit); buying houses, buying cars, and taking on new debt. These are all actions which are geared more toward youth than the elderly.

Rising interest rates increase the amount of money gained on existing capital… which is the main funding mechanism that many retirees were instructed to plan for, throughout most of their lives. “Have a half million in the bank, and you can live comfortably off of the interest”, they were told. At 2% interest, that only generates about $10K/year.

Rising interest rates also increase the market influence of those who lack outstanding debt, which tends to be retirees. This allows seniors to get greater benefits out of a market-based system, allowing the greater returns on their investments to go farther.

It also tends to keep housing prices from jumping erratically… which in turn keeps property taxes lower. In many locations throughout the country, property taxes are the key financial burden faced by the elderly.

Trump’s elderly base would be best served by allowing rates to rise normally, ending the artificially low rates put in place a decade ago in an effort to stimulate the stock market. That effort was successful, though, and Americans – including the elderly – typically view the strength of the economy through the prism of the Dow Jones. Keeping rates artificially low will continue to provide that stimulus, and Trump and the Republicans are placing their reelection hopes on the appearance of a strong economy.

Trump is screwing his base again; this time, out of their savings. There was considerable dissatisfaction with Obama because of the same policy, but at that time the complaints were stoked by Republican media. It is uncertain how many of those who were desperately concerned about their finances four years ago will remember their reasoning in the next election…. but if the pattern holds, many will forget.

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.