As a child in the 1980s, I got my first taste of politics by watching Ronald Reagan do his thing. While the reality of his presidency didn’t quite match the legend that he’s become for Republicans, he was very clear in his convictions and stuck to his guns. At that point, I acquired the naive notion that people interested in politics had their views and could remain consistent in supporting them.
I was wrong. I now realize most Americans are sheep when it comes to politics. They don’t have their own views except on black and white issues like gun owner rights or abortion. When it comes to complicated issues, they simply support or oppose actions based on who else is supporting or opposing them. The most glaring examples of this are the tariffs imposed on China. The proof is a poll posted today on Axios:
A narrow majority of Americans think President Trump’s tariffs against China have been bad for jobs, and his overall trade policies are unpopular by a nearly identical margin, according to a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll.
Why it matters: Trump has a chance to improve his approval numbers now that he’s reached a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico to replace NAFTA. But this poll, taken before the agreement was announced, shows how much ground he has to make up due to the unpopularity of the tariffs.
Let’s make something very clear. The tariffs President Trump has imposed on China are straight out of Senators Bernie Sanders’ and Elizabeth Warren’s playbook. Both have been strong supporters of this type of action. Both have called directly for tariffs on China almost exactly as the White House has brought forth.
Who else supports these types of tariffs on China? Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer:
“I want to give him a big pat on the back,” Schumer said. “I have called for such action for years and been disappointed by the inactions of both President Bush and Obama.”
Despite the fact that far-left Democrats are the ones who have been trying to get tariffs on China for years, 80% of Republicans support it now while only 10% of Democrats support it. Why? Because Trump’s name is attached to it.
The vast majority of Americans apparently do not know what they support or oppose when it comes to complex issues like the economy. They simply wait for the people they follow to tell them whether they’re supposed to support or oppose a policy. For most Republicans, if Trump does it, then it must be good. For most Democrats, if Trump does it, then it must be bad.
As George Orwell put it, “The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.”