I have a hard time dealing with stories of white people realizing that their Trump votes may have negative consequences, of which there are so many in the media. First, to my very favorite part of the country, small-town western Pennsylvania, where it turns out that steel tariffs will actually hurt American workers employed by foreign owned plants:
Dan Moore, a 58-year-old steel mill worker, gives the president an A+ on everything from tax cuts to foreign policy, but he is not so sure about tariffs.
“We need tariffs, but when it starts to impact the company where you work … you’re thinking, well wait a minute, time out!” he said.
Moore is worried the tariffs might cost him his job. The mill where he works, NLMK Pennsylvania, in the town of Farrell, not far from the border with Ohio, employs 750 workers and is a subsidiary of Novolipetsk Steel, or NLMK, Russia’s top steelmaker.
But even though NLMK is creating American jobs, the company is being hit with a 25 percent tariff on steel because it imports raw steel slabs from Russia before turning them into coils in Pennsylvania and then selling that steel to customers that manufacture cars or pipes, for example.
Bill Almashy, a 48-year-old crane operator at the mill, worries that NLMK might not be able to survive the tariffs.
He knows what it is like to lose a steel mill job. This is the third mill he has worked at in recent years. One of the previous mills went bankrupt; the other moved most of its jobs to Mexico. Along the way, Almashy lost his home, his pension and his 401(k).
“A lot of steel in America is gone,” he said. ” Basically our politicians failed us.”
And so when he first heard about President Trump’s tariffs, he “applauded” the president. He says he still does but doesn’t understand why his company should be punished for importing steel.
“Even if they’re foreign-owned, but they have a factory in this country and they’re employing American workers, to me, that’s an American company,” Almashy said.
To him, exempting this Russian-owned steel mill from tariffs would be a matter of putting “America First.”
And that’s the crux of the debate.
Moore voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, but during the last presidential election, he became enamored with Donald Trump’s promise to bring back jobs and renegotiate trade deals. He thought tariffs in the abstract would be beneficial, but now that they could hurt the company he works for, he thinks the Trump administration needs to re-evaluate the idea.
“Tariffs — they may help some people, but they’re gonna hurt a lot of people too. I don’t know exactly how you balance that,” Moore said. “Maybe it’s not the right time for tariffs.” Maybe, he says, the president ought to focus more on wages and jobs instead.
Moore is about to head into the mill down the road for his shift. He is wearing a dark blue work uniform shirt over his round belly and a Trump hat over his graying hair. It’s a souvenir he picked up during Trump’s inauguration.
Moore insists he has “no regrets” about his vote, even though he knows some might think that’s strange given the precariousness of his current employment due to the very tariffs Trump introduced.
Of course he has no regrets, even though he might lose his job! White supremacy is a hell of a drug. Speaking of this, off to another area in which I have lived, east Tennessee, where it turns out Donald Trump saying he will deport immigrants means he will deport immigrants and thus hurt small towns who rely on them, but whose voters went overwhelmingly for Trump anyway:
But Morristown, a town of 30,000 northeast of Knoxville that was the boyhood home of Davy Crockett, has drawn migrant workers from Latin America since the early 1990s, when they first came to work on the region’s abundant tomato farms. As stepped-up security has made going back and forth across the border more difficult, many of these families have settled into the community, enrolled their kids in school, and joined churches where they have baptized their American-born children.
So the day Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided the Southeastern Provision plant outside the city and sent dozens of workers to out-of-state detention centers was the day people in Morristown began to ask questions many hadn’t thought through before — to the federal government, to the police, to their church leaders, to each other.
Donations of food, clothing and toys for families of the workers streamed in at such volume there was a traffic jam to get into the parking lot of a church. Professors at the college extended a speaking invitation to a young man whose brother and uncle were detained in the raid. Schoolteachers cried as they tried to comfort students whose parents were suddenly gone. There was standing room only at a prayer vigil that drew about 1,000 people to a school gym.
Hamblen County, where Morristown is the county seat, voted Trump 77-20, the highest margin of victory that county has ever given to a presidential candidate. This is the America white people voted for. It is the America they are receiving.