On Tuesday, I wrote a little something called “Dear Wisconsin Harley-Davidson Workers: What In God’s Name Makes You Think Donald Trump Cares About You?”
I didn’t set out to pen an open letter to blue collar America, but that’s what it turned into as I put digital pen to digital paper. That was, frankly, a pretty popular post and judging by some of the e-mail feedback, it was generally well-received.
There are a number of important points in that piece, not the least of which is my contention that it is, was and always will be, patently absurd to characterize a billionaire real estate developer with a history of rubbing his wealth in the faces of those less fortunate than himself, as the savior of flyover America.
That’s not to say that wealthy people (and wealthy Republicans) are inherently unable to empathize with everyday Americans. All kinds of wealthy people (including conservatives) care deeply about wealth inequality and spend lots of money and time engaged in philanthropic enterprises.
Rather, my point was that this particular wealthy person (Donald Trump) has never demonstrated a propensity to help working Americans and if you believe New York attorney general Barbara Underwood, Trump and his children used their namesake charity as what amounted to a personal checkbook.
If you believe that suit against the Trump Foundation is hopelessly biased that’s fine, but it’s not like you have to look very hard for other evidence of Trump’s blatant disregard for working people. The details of the Trump U. debacle are heartbreaking from the perspective of the “students” who were duped.
If you delve into the details of his fundraising efforts, they’re equally heartbreaking. If you have a few minutes, skim “Donald Trump ‘Can’t Believe’ The Washington Post Knows He’s Ripping Off Unemployed Nannies” which details how small donations of as little as $3 have been diverted to pay Trump’s legal fees. And then there’s the time he sent Mike Pence to a Colts game as a publicity stunt in order to raise money in $5 increments from Pence’s decision to leave when players knelt to protest racial inequality during the anthem. And don’t forget that he spent $1.1 million in three months on lawyer fees and MAGA hats in Q3 of last year.
Oh, and you know that tax cut that Trump pitched as a “Middle Class miracle”? Yeah, well the benefits of that disproportionately accrue to the wealthy, but the truly egregious part of that charade is that Trump and his family will benefit to the tune of an estimated $1.1 billion or, to put that in perspective, 16,950 times the median annual income of an average American family.
Ok, so given all of that, it shouldn’t surprise you that as soon as the Harley-Davidson announced plans to move some production to Europe in order to mitigate the effects of the retaliatory tariffs necessitated by Trump’s burgeoning trade war with America’s European allies, he threw Harley under the bus.
Specifically, he accused the company of lying to their employees (detailed in the post linked here at the outset) before taking things up another notch by (essentially) threatening to drive the company out of existence by “tax[ing] them like never before.”
A Harley-Davidson should never be built in another country-never! Their employees and customers are already very angry at them. If they move, watch, it will be the beginning of the end – they surrendered, they quit! The Aura will be gone and they will be taxed like never before!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2018
That’s the same Harley-Davidson that was invited to the White House just 15 months ago and the same Harley-Davidson that Trump touted as “a true American icon, one of the greats.”
Now, just a little over a year later, Trump is threatening to relegate that “true American icon” to the dustbin of history by taxing it to death. And all because the company was forced to respond when Trump’s trade war elicited a response from Europe which, if Harley doesn’t do something, would effectively shut the company out of the European market. Throw in the fact that the company was already set to suffer from the steel and aluminum tariffs and you’re left to wonder what choice Trump gave them.
Well, on Wednesday, Trump did what Trump does best: he doubled down. Here, blue collar workers of America, is what Trump thinks about an “American icon”:
It’s all about him. If I may, allow me to ask Harley-Davidson workers the following: who has done more for you over the years? Donald Trump or the company you work for?
Exactly. And now this demagogue is on Twitter with the same indignant demeanor befitting of someone who doesn’t give a shit about blue collar workers, telling you all about how much he’s “done for you”.
On top of that, he is again (and this time more explicitly) threatening to drive the company out of business. What do you think he means when he says “we won’t forget?” Additionally, he’s actively talking up Harley competitors.
This is an egregious abuse of power and it echoes Trump’s attempts to use the Postal Service as a weapon against Amazon.
Now let’s go back to the article published in the Financial Times on Tuesday for a second. Recall this:
When asked whether the latest news could make him vote against Mr Trump if he runs for a second term in 2020, one worker, who gave his name only as Tod, replied: “No, I don’t think so. It’s going to take a little bit more than that. He’s doing good things. We’ll just have to see who runs on the other side, that might change my vote.”
Well, Tod, I’ve got news for you. If you don’t vote for Trump, he’ll drop you just like he dropped the company you worked for and if you need proof of that, look no further than the first thing Trump said last year when he met with Harley execs at the White House. Here’s the quote:
So it’s great to have Harley-Davidson. What a great, great group of people and what a fantastic job you do. And thank you for all of the votes you gave me in Wisconsin.
It’s all about the “great group of people” at Harley. Unless of course those “great” people do something to embarrass him, in which case he’ll show the people of Wisconsin how much he cares by taxing the company they work for out of business.
But still, “thank you for the vote you gave me”.