Trump’s Trade War With China Is Yet Another Partisan Attack Against California

Par for the course from the president of the Republican base.

China has responded to Trump’s steel tariffs by responding in kind, except with levies on fruits, nuts, pork and wine, among 128 other goods.

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.



Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.