Immigration and Tariffs: Keys to Victory in ’18

Donald Trump is under siege. He is being hounded by a dogged, partisan special counsel intent on leading a witch hunt. Trump’s own party is lukewarm about his presidency (and many are looking for the exits). The Democrats, obviously, are out for his blood. Trump’s staff keeps shifting at light speed. And, of course, the media is adding fuel to all of these fires, in order to get ratings and satisfy their own ideological interests.

Currently, President Trump’s approval ratings are at historic lows when compared to several of his predecessors at similar points in their administrations. Also, we must keep in mind, Trump did lose the popular vote in 2016 by a substantial margin.

As I have argued repeatedly, the 2018 midterms could be the make-or-break moment not only for President Trump but also for America’s future.

Currently, the Democrats believe they are leading a wave election akin to the one Republicans led in 2010. Whether true or not, one thing is apparent to even the most casual political observer: the Democratic Party’s base is energized. In January, I argued that the Democrats may need to reassess their hopes for 2018, based on the success of Trump’s tax cut. It is now clear that the strategy of Democrats to redouble their incessant efforts to shout down the president is galvanizing the party faithful. Regardless of how obnoxious their campaign may seem to those on the Right, the fact is the Democrats are making considerable headway in their attempts to turn-out-the-vote in 2018.

Republican consultants (yes, yes, I know) are debating whether the president should take an active role in campaigning for candidates this year. At the moment, it appears after the outcome of the special election in Western Pennsylvania, the president will keep a low profile on the campaign trail (though we’ll see how long that lasts).

Run on What Works
In reality, the best thing President Trump could do to bolster the GOP’s chances in the midterms is 
double-down on the issues that won him the presidency.

The talk is cheap. Also, forget about the tax cuts. They did some good, but they didn’t go far enough—and the voters likely aren’t going to focus on that issue, since the media is intent on making this a popularity contest. Trump is going to need to turn out significant numbers of the coalition of blue-collar voters that showed up for him in 2016.

Midterms notoriously are elections where the party in power suffers turnout problems. The average presidential election sees only around 60 percent of the voting population turn out to vote. The numbers are halved for most midterms. Thus, the key to winning for either party is to do a better job of galvanizing their bases.

Right now, the Democrats are far more inspired and encouraged to show up and vote against Donald Trump than Republicans are willing to turn out and vote for Trump. The issues, such as illegal immigration and tariffs, are what will get the vote out for Trump and the GOP in most contests. Trump’s greatest strength is that he appeals not only to Republicans but also to blue-collar workers who usually vote Democratic.

In 2016, Trump focused on matters that concerned America’s blue-collar working-class communities. Resisting open border anarchy, free trade wrongheadedness, and combating the opioid epidemic—these were all issues that pushed Trump over the finish line.

Don’t Lose Your Nerve
President Trump has already initiated the tariff program. Although
 a trade war remains possible, as I’ve written for the last two years, protectionism itself is not the problem (the world’s most successful economies are protectionist). In fact, protectionism is the only thing that will defend critical American sectors from foreign usurpation. Whatever happens with America’s manufacturing communities in the long-term, the reality is that America’s steelworkers “will not forget” how Trump went to bat for them. Ditto for most of the other forgotten men and women in America.

But, the president cannot stop there. And now that China is unleashing its former anti-corruption tsar, President Xi Jinping’s so-called “firefighter,” Wang Qishan, on Sino-American trade disputes, Trump will need to hold fast to his protectionist stances and hold firm against a tough Chinese backlash.

Yet, the most important issue that Trump fixated on in 2016—immigration, illegal and legal—remains relatively unchanged. Yes, illegal immigration into the United States has declined since Trump took office. No, it has not stopped. Neither has the flow of illicit narcotics into the country. What’s more, the wall is a long way off. And Trump’s travel moratorium keeps meeting stiff resistance in the courts. Unless Trump visibly breaks ground by building the wall (both metaphorically and literally), the blue-collar worker who made Trump’s election a possibility will be disinclined to turn out again. Why support tariffs if blue-collar jobs will end up with cheaper foreign-born workers?

Trump could help to ensure a Republican victory in 2018 (even if he chooses not to campaign actively for candidates) by pushing his nationalist-populist agenda. That is the only way he will galvanize his supporters to come out in droves and vote for the GOP candidates, despite his name not being on the top of the ticket as it was in 2016.

If Republicans cannot achieve a solid victory in 2018, then the Democrats might just get the votes they need to impeach the president. (Remember: impeachment is a quintessentially political act.) That would not only be bad for Trump personally, but it would be a disaster for the United States.

For the GOP to win, Trump had better return to the core themes that won him the presidency, no matter what the damned establishment says.

Photo credit: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

About Brandon J. Weichert

Brandon J. Weichert is a geopolitical analyst who manages The Weichert Report. He is a contributing editor at American Greatness and a contributor at Asia Times . He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers). His second book, The Shadow War: Iran's Quest for Supremacy (Republic Book Publishers) is due in Fall of 2022. Weichert is an educator who travels the country speaking to military and business audiences about space, geopolitics, technology, and the future of war. He can be followed via Twitter: @WeTheBrandon.

Photo: US President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the Make America Great Again Rally on March 10, 2018 in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. President Trump travelled to Pennsylvania to speak at a " Make America Great Again " rally on behalf of Republican candidate Rick Saccone. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

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14 responses to “Immigration and Tariffs: Keys to Victory in ’18”

  1. Statements like ‘Currently, President Trump’s approval ratings are at historic lows when compared to several of his predecessors at similar points in their administrations’ need to be placed in the ‘consider the source’ folder.

    Gallup did not call the 2016 election, therefore they cannot be charged with failing to do so. This was a smart (but somewhat cowardly move) as it was obvious that virtually every polling effort failed to come close to calling the election.

    Polling companies have come up with all sorts of technical reasons for their failures, but rarely mention the most obvious: Polling results represent the interests of those paying for the polls.

    When it comes to understanding polling results, the rule is simple: If you do not understand the methods used for the poll and cannot access the poll questions, you cannot know whether the results are valid.

    Here is an example from American Thinker of a quick-and-dirty dissection of a poll:

    • I used to work on campaigns. While there is certainly truth in the concern of bias in favor of the paying party, I can tell you that the reason polls fails is, simply, because of the methodology: no matter how “scientific” their polling may be, pollsters are never able to take HUMAN NATURE into account nor are they able to ever ask the right number of people in the right variation of questions. Plus, in terms of bias, we mustn’t forget the biases of the pollsters themselves. That’s a huge and overlooked issue.

      • You cite very good reasons to not trust any public poll results where (a) the information regarding the wording and sequence of questions and (b) information about the polling population is not available to the public.

        But, all statistical products that use sampling suffer from the same problems: Margins of error.

        I have seen many polls where, despite the wording of the ‘headline’ summary being full of unqualified declarative statements of in the form of ‘X is more popular than Y’, where the actual data show that the data was inconclusive due to the supposed popularity of X being within (or very close to) the margin of error.

        Most campaigns do ‘internal’ polling (though often by a firm contracted to perform this task). Since this data is not available to the public, my assumption is that the results are more likely to be reported accurately to the client as real world decisions will have to be made on the results.

        Polls for public consumption are, today, little more than another vehicle for propaganda. Perhaps this was always the case to some extent. However, when scores of polling agencies got the 2016 election results wrong and simply said ‘oops’ (in more sophisticated language) and then continued on their merry way, I think the problem of polls as a means for creating rather than describing public sentiment has been fully revealed to anyone who cares to pay attention.

        There was one poll that I know of that at least predicted that Donald J. Trump would be the winner of the election: LA Times/USC Tracking. However, they got the scale of the victory (‘+3’) wrong. Still, you can look at the link below to get a sense of just how far off some polling organizations (and their concomitant polling methods) were in this list of polling data from the 2016 election from Real Clear Politics:!

  2. The first thing Trump should do is to stop endorsing anyone suggested by McConnell and Ryan. The second thing he should do is to replace McConnell’s wife at DoL The third thing he should do is to stop taking about the wall and sill more wars and start talking about E-verify and slashing the number of green cards. And then he can stop talking about death to drug dealers and stop feeding Sessions’ obsessions about pot smokers.

    God, the list gets long fast. What is Trump doing these days?

    • ‘The Wall’ is both a symbolic and real policy objective. Mexico is virtually a failed state. At some point, it could fail entirely and the wave of ‘refugees’ from Mexico would be staggering. The Wall might help in this circumstance. The alternative will be to put Mexico under US protection. And we all know how well that has worked with Puerto Rico.

      What’s your gripe with Elaine Chau, other than that she is Mitch McConnell’s wife?

  3. Double down on the issue that really matters to America: the juvenile taunting of Joe Biden.

    • Perhaps you miss the irony of your being fascinated by trivialities while complaining about the President being fascinated by what you consider trivial. The irony remains nonetheless.

      Or are you saying that interest in what Joe Biden has to say is itself ‘juvenile’?

      • I take it you regard the question of whether the head of state conducts his office with dignity, gravity and decorum to be a triviality.

      • I think if a President has nothing more to offer, then they need to rely on such formalities. On the other hand, if they do have more to offer, I consider such things largely trivial.

        Would you say that Biden’s appeal to physical combat in response was resplendent in ‘dignity, gravity and decorum’? I certainly wouldn’t.

        POTUS Trump is must following the old maxims — so beloved of the Left — that ‘the personal is the political and the political is the personal’ and ‘by any means necessary’. He’s turning Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals against his opponents.

        You may decry this state of affairs, but it’s where we are now and I, for one, am pleased.

        Politics is a bloodsport. Get used to it.

      • So the dignity of the United States is merely a trivial consideration for you. Something secondary to whatever you mean by “more to offer”.

        And Alinsky was hardly the first revolutionary to hold to “any means necessary”. Robespierre, Lenin, Hitler – they all believed that too. But I’m glad you understand the proper historical context of the current administration, at any rate.

      • Americans used to be a pragmatic people, concerned with appearances where appropriate and indifferent to such considerations when appropriate. I continue in that tradition.

        I do not conflate the ‘dignity’ of the US with the ‘dignity’ of a specific r a specific President or the ‘office’ of the President. As long as the President functions with the normal constraints of the Constitutional order and the Constitutional powers of the Office of the President, I see little reason for complaint.

        Those Americans who voted for Donald Trump understood what we were getting, and, so far, his ‘base’ appears happy with the results.