by Charlotte Allen
I went to Stanford, and I voted for Donald Trump. So did my husband. He went to Yale.
And so we spent more than three hours standing in line to vote in Washington, D.C.’s Republican presidential caucus on March 12. We suspected that this would be time spent quixotically, as Washington is the bullseye of the anti-Trump GOP political and intellectual establishment. Sure enough, establishment favorite Florida Sen. Marco Rubio won the majority of the delegates, and Trump finished a poor third. Still, we wanted to be part of the nationwide rebellion against the establishment that has resulted in Trump’s becoming the clear GOP front-runner practically everywhere else in America. And we weren’t alone. Trump is actually enjoying surprisingly strong support among highly educated people like us — and for good reason.
The common wisdom is that the majority of Trump’s supporters are barely literate knuckle-draggers. They’re “low-information,” in the words of Trump’s leading GOP rival nationwide, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. And it’s true that the largest education-level cohort among the Republicans who have consistently given Trump a double-digit lead in the primaries consists of people with high-school educations or less.
But in Massachusetts, home of Harvard and MIT and ranked as the No. 1 state in the union for residents possessing at least a bachelor’s degree, a CNN exit poll for the March 1 Republican primary showed Trump winning over 46% of voters with college degrees and even edging out Ohio “moderate” Gov. John Kasich (29% to 28%) among voters with postgraduate sheepskins. Exit polls in other states show similar results
For nearly 25 years — since President George H.W. Bush lost his bid for a second term in 1992 — the Republican Party has been unable to field a presidential candidate who could excite enough of its own party members to the ballot box so as to secure a majority of the popular vote. (In the lone exception, George W. Bush squeaked by with 50.7% in 2004 in a patriotic surge following 9/11.) The main reason: the GOP establishment’s suicidally inexplicable but intractable commitment to “comprehensive immigration reform” (amnesty for 11 million illegal immigrants and continued mass migration) and so-called free trade.
Voters of both political parties cite the U.S. economy, faltering since 2008, as one of their top concerns. And Republican voters can see perfectly well that it makes no sense to import around 400,000 illegal immigrants annually, the vast majority of them unskilled, into a labor market where, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the real unemployment rate is close to 11% if you count people who have given up looking for work because they can’t find it, or who are working part-time because they need the money but would prefer to work full-time. Furthermore, only the most Pollyanna-ish of economists would argue that unlimited immigration in a weak economy doesn’t depress wages.
Free trade is an elegant concept in the 18th-century pages of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. The Portuguese export wine to Britain, and the British export woolen goods to Portugal — a win-win situation, your Econ 101 professor would say. In the real world of the 21st century, “free trade” means 25 years’ worth of treaties and arrangements in which the U.S. hews to the Adam Smith playbook while China, for example, puts its thumb onto the scales via rock-bottom wages, allegedly ignored labor violations, poison-level air and water pollution and a manipulated currency. And “free trade” hasn’t exactly delivered Smith’s promised export benefits to the U.S. We currently run an almost $366 billion trade deficit with China alone and a $484.1 billion trade deficit worldwide.
I’ve been a journalist by profession for more than three decades, and my reporting trips have taken me on many occasions across the vast coast-to-coast Rust Belt left behind as one U.S. company after another has outsourced its manufacturing operations to low-wage havens abroad. I’ve seen the construction industry, once a decently-paying bulwark for skilled working class American men without much educational aptitude, be turned over to non-English-speaking illegal immigrants toiling for labor contractors at under-the-table wages a fraction of what on the record employees make. The Republican establishment’s response to this has been pathetic: a “reformicon” agenda of using the refundable earned-income tax credit to hand out welfare to the displaced American workers.
Trump promises to turn America into a country that does what nations ought to do: Put the interests of its own citizens first. That’s why he’s promised to build a wall along our southern border and to change our tariff practices to comport with export-import reality. He has also managed to grow the Republican Party, apparently generating record primary turnouts and inspiring thousands of onetime Democrats to switch to the GOP. That’s why my husband and I will be casting our ballots for Trump in November should he become the Republican nominee. Some would call that “anger.” I call it “hope.”
Charlotte Allen is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter: @MeanCharlotte
SOURCE: USA Today