My city-slicker cousin Chatsworth McFeely III, he of the old-money limousine liberal McFeelys of the East Coast, called the other day wondering how mad my Republican friends were at President Donald Trump. I, Mike McFeely of the no-money progressive McFeelys of the Midwest, expressed bafflement at Chatsworth's presumption.
Why, I asked, do you think they are upset at Trump?
"Michael, my friend, his trade war with China is killing farmers. I read about it every day in my New York Times and Washington Post. Commodity prices have tanked, farm bankruptcies are up, banks are nervous about lending money to farmers. All of North Dakota must be ready to march to the White House."
On the contrary, I replied, most North Dakotans seem pleased with the president. His approval numbers remain high and his Republican surrogates in Congress, Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and Rep. Kelly Armstrong, don't speak ill of him. In fact, Cramer spends more time touting Space Force than anything else.
"Space Force? That's nothing but a distraction Trump tosses out like a shiny object. No U.S. Senator would fall for that. It has nothing to do with the price of soybeans in China. Trump's policies are destroying markets farmers took decades to build. They may never recover."
It's all good. Trump calls farmers "patriots" for gambling their farms on him and the line is parroted by his bootlickers. It's like farmers took Cramer's campaign criticism to heart, back when he called them soft for not being willing to endure short-term pain. They've increased their pain threshold, it appears.
"But a long war could cost them their farms. What are they going to do if this drags on?"
They'll probably take another government check like the ones Trump gave them last fall. The president and Hoeven have said that might happen again.
"But that's welfare. I thought North Dakota farmers and Republicans despised government handouts?"
Best as I can tell, only if the recipients aren't them.
"What issues are tripping their triggers, if not their livelihood?"
Immigration seems to be a big one. They want the wall built.
"What does that have to do with North Dakota?"
I've asked the same question many times and have yet to get a decent answer, other than they think all immigrants are on welfare.
"And they hate welfare unless they are the ones receiving it."
Now you're catching on.
"Let's see if I have this straight. Trump has told North Dakota farmers they are cannon fodder in his trade war against China. He patronizes them by calling them 'patriots.' At the same time, North Dakota's congressmen are working to bribe farmers with welfare while trumpeting a wall 1,500 miles away. Oh, and Space Force. And these folks would vote for Trump again?"
In a heartbeat.
"This is very confusing, my good man."
Imagine living here.
"Oh, I could never. Toodle-oo, Michael. Next time you're on the East Coast, do look us up. I'd like to show you off to our friends at the club."
Like a zoo animal?
"No, like a Democrat from Trump country. Even more exotic and strange."