Trump Has Stayed True To His Voters

Gary Shapiro President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association
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President Trump was elected in what coastal elites consider flyover country – swing states rich with electoral votes but places where inequality between the rich and poor is perhaps most striking. In these states, Trump leveraged the dissatisfaction of older working-class Democrats. Exit polls confirm Trump won the hearts of union households, substantially narrowing the gap between union household support for Democrats versus Republicans, compared to the 2012 presidential election.

Many of these Trump voters are salt of the earth. They’re hard workers who build things with their hands, put out our fires, work in our factories, pave our streets and drive our trucks.

Contrary to Hillary Clinton’s dismissal of Trump voters as a “basket of deplorables,” these voters chose Trump because he speaks their language, recognizes their frustrations and offers hope that our once-great nation can shift away from decades of ivory tower Washington solutions. Trump voters were fed up with Obamacare raising their health care costs, Washington meddling in state-level issues and the federal government siding against local police.

And while some Democrats belittle Trump voters, many of those same Trump voters are willing to listen politely to Democratic ideas. Liberal speakers – including Senator Bernie Sanders – are welcome at conservative campuses such as Liberty University, while conservative speakers have been shouted down, blocked and cancelled at schools across the nation.

In fact, the weakness of the national Democratic Party’s ideas is reflected in how they refuse to even engage with the Trump administration. Following Trump’s election, Democrats agreed to work with him on issues such as infrastructure and tax reform. But now some Senate Democrats have made it clear they will fight Trump’s every move.

Indeed, the official Democratic strategy appears to encourage “resisting” every Trump nominee and every health care, tax relief and infrastructure proposal. This strategy jeopardizes the Democrats’ opportunity to participate in the conversation in Washington to find solutions to national challenges. And, more importantly, it’s not what voters want. A May Harvard-Harris poll found that 89 percent of Americans want the two parties to work together to solve national problems.

Rather than marginalizing and criminalizing every Trump move, Democrats should focus on rebuilding their party. They should follow the lead of several smart Democrat House members who have joined an equal number of Republicans in agreeing to work on major issues through No Labels’ Problem Solvers Caucus.

After eight years of uncritical fawning of President Obama, the media has actively sought to destroy Trump, bloviating on banalities – from slanted reports of Ivanka getting booed in Europe to a hyperbolic focus on the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

Many of us have been wrong in underestimating Trump. Yes, he is still learning the political ropes as president and making mistakes anyone new to politics could make. But he has also quickly changed the foreign policy dynamic in positive ways. In his first 125 days, Trump has met and spoken to numerous world leaders. His bombing of Syrian airfields was approved of overwhelmingly by Americans and other nations. On his first foreign trip, he received respect in Arab countries, kudos from Israel and even kind words and blessings from the pope.

And Trump is even willing to shift from his own party to protect his base voters. The Border Adjustment Tax (BAT) pushed by House Republican leaders would impose a 20 percent tax on imports, increasing the price on many everyday items Americans buy at big-box retailers, and Trump has repeatedly emphasized his opposition to it.

He also appears willing to reverse course and move forward on an Obama-era rule imposing a fiduciary obligation on financial professionals who give millions of hard-working Americans financial advice. President Trump may want to protect Americans from seeing their savings destroyed because advisors are getting huge commissions or kickbacks for pushing inappropriate investments. Despite initial indications Trump would kill the proposal, the administration is now seeking public comment on the rule.

Who wants employees’ retirement nest eggs eroded by unethical advisors pushing high commission products? Part of Trump’s thinking may be that several big investment firms have said they already adjusted to comply with the rule. Or maybe Trump realizes he will be keeping his promise to ordinary Americans if he agrees to protect them from investment advisors with hidden incentives to push high commission low return products.

In any case, thank you, President Trump. Keep creating great jobs with high wages by cutting back on choking rules. Modernize our trade agreements. Let us get our prescriptions filled in Canada. Cut health care costs by encouraging competitive pricing. Reform entitlement programs. Stop promiscuous student loans. Unleash entrepreneurs and the power of innovation. Encourage investment. Protect the most vulnerable among us. Most importantly, make us stronger as a nation.

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)TM, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,200 consumer technology companies, and author of the New York Times best-selling books, Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Businesses and The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream. His views are his own. Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro