Will Trump’s Base Really Reject Their Harleys?

Will Trump’s Base Really Reject Their Harleys?


Leonard Zwelling

Now he’s really gone and done it. President Trump is forcing his dedicated base to choose between him and their motorcycles. The tariffs on imported steel have forced Harley-Davidson to move some its manufacturing to Europe to supply the European demand for its motorcycles. That will cost American jobs and more importantly off-shore one of the most iconic of American brands. Who would have ever thought that such a thing could happen under a Republican president? But it has.

Mr. Trump profoundly doesn’t understand how the modern global world operates. There are not American markets and foreign markets. There are just markets. The lower the barriers to free trade, the most likely Americans will have access to reasonably priced goods from all over the world and the rest of the world will have access to what we make and grow.

For some reason Mr. Trump has in his head that trading is unequal between us and the rest of the world. Maybe it’s because a lot of stuff is cheaper elsewhere. If the problem is tariffs being placed on American goods in foreign markets, that should engender a negotiation, not a trade war.

The balance of payments with China is favorable toward the Chinese because they make all that low cost stuff we buy at WalMart and Target. That’s okay. We send them dollars in exchange which they have to use to buy what they want. American dollars are one of our most prized exports. What the heck is wrong with that?

Undermining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and NAFTA won’t help American farmers or carmakers. It won’t help anyone and no, it doesn’t mean we win. We lose.

That a Republican Administration is not backing free trade is truly remarkable. It surely supports the notion that the GOP has become three parties, the traditional Republicans, the Freedom Caucus of extreme social conservatives, and the Trumpees. More and more the latter group is dominating and the Democrats have no idea what to do to combat this. Neither do the traditional Republicans—the few who are left.

The country really is on the verge of a civil war between the minority who back the president and everyone else who has no idea what to do. And that really includes the Democrats who are less than two years away from the Iowa Caucuses with not a declared candidate running for President and no obvious front-runners at all.

I am not at all sure the country can handle another two years of Trump, let alone another six.

I am quite certain, however, that if middle America has to choose between its Harleys and its Trumpees, it will go for the former.


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