Guess what all of those products (except pork) have in common? They’re among the chief agricultural exports of California. Nuts and wine are almost entirely California commodities in the United States, and California produces most of the fruit and vegetables.
California has become China’s wine cellar and grocery store. It’s also fairly clear that the initial Chinese response to Trump’s trade war instigations would not be to slap high tariffs on goods and staples they desperately need, like crude oil and beef, but rather on comparative luxury goods. That means goods primarily coming from California.
Trump might not have been fully aware of this dynamic, but his advisers would have been. And it’s important to remember that Trump announced the steel tariffs in order to protect Rust Belt swing state jobs, and in particular as a failed attempt to help Republican candidate Saccone defeat Conor Lamb in a Pennsylvania special election last month.
So Trump’s trade volley amounts to an attempt, just as with the tax bill, to assist his own voters and red states at the expense of blue states and Clinton voters, particularly in California. Launch a levy on Chinese steel to ostensibly help white men in Ohio whose support he cares about, and get in return a levy on agriculture that hurts mostly Latinx workers in California whose lives he cares nothing about.
Just more par for the course from the President of the Republican Base of America.