With the impeachment of Pres. Donald Trump pending in the U.S. House of Representatives this week, it’s a good time to reflect on the president’s status in Idaho.
It’s safe to say that the impeachment fever raging on both coasts has not infected Idaho. Past survey research shows that Idaho is Trump territory, and that’s reflected in the positions of members of Idaho’s congressional delegation -- none of whom support impeaching the president or removing him from office.
The Republican Party that dominates Idaho is firmly behind the president and support has likely gotten stronger as impeachment proceedings have continued.
So why does Idaho support Trump? Based on conversations with a lot of people, here are some reasons why:
--After eight years of economic doldrums under the Obama administration, the economy has taken off under Trump. Whether that is due to luck, or not, doesn’t matter. Trump has deregulated, pushed through a large tax cut, unleashed U.S. energy, and has been business friendly. He gets the credit for a terrific economy.
With the strong economy, the stock market is setting records, wages are growing, household and personal income are up, and unemployment for minority groups is at record lows.
Idaho’s economy is among the best in the country, so it’s no wonder Idahoans like the president.
--Trump’s tough trade policies were concerning to Idaho’s ranchers, farmers and manufacturers. But those policies are now paying off. Trump has been blistered for his tariffs and trade wars. But countries that have been abusing the United States for years on trade certainly took notice and now greatly improved trade deals are close to being implemented.
--China, which is our country’s most formidable economic competitor, has been damaged by Trump’s tough trade policies, sanctions and tariffs. After decades of unfair trade practices, China has finally been brought to the table to seriously negotiate issues like theft of intellectual property, industrial espionage, the enormous trade imbalance, abuses of joint-venture requirements, and its exportation of fentanyl that leads to addiction and thousands of deaths in the United States.
Trump is the first president ever to seriously challenge China’s unfair trade practices. Other presidents naively looked the other way.
--Trump has been far tougher on Russia than his predecessors, especially Pres. Obama. Ukraine now has Javelin anti-tank missiles that Obama refused to provide. Trump got NATO countries to boost their defense budgets to counter Russia. Unleashing U.S. energy has hurt Russia economically. Trump and NATO allies have deployed troops in Poland, the Baltics and Norway to deter Russian expansion. Trump scolded Germany for allowing a Russian natural gas pipeline. Trump kicked out numerous Russian diplomats. Most importantly, Trump reversed the hollowing out of our military by dramatically increasing funding and modernizing our defenses.
--Trump executes what former Pres. Teddy Roosevelt suggested: Speak softly and carry a big stick. That’s actually what Trump does. He cultivates personal relationships with Chinese, Russian and other totalitarian leaders, but swings a big stick when it comes to sanctions and other actions. But because of the personal relationships, the door is always open to reduce tensions and improve relations. Trump is always willing to negotiate. Trump doesn’t conduct foreign policy like past presidents and like the foreign policy establishment prefers. But it works.
--Trump is demanding that foreign wars have clear objectives and don’t last forever. He is demanding, and getting results, that other wealthy countries do their fair share to police the world and deter dictatorships.
--Trump fights back when attacked by the liberal national news media. Other presidents accepted abuse. Trump gives as good as he gets.
--Trump has been harassed every minute of his presidency by investigations launched by people who hate him, who never accepted the results of the 2016 election. But Trump has prevailed, with the Mueller investigation clearing him of collusion with the Russians and the Inspector General’s investigation harshly criticizing actions of the Justice Department and FBI in investigating the Trump campaign. The current impeachment investigation will not remove him from office. It’s quite remarkable what Trump has accomplished despite the harassment.
The perception of Trump is that he is unpredictable, brash, vulgar, arrogant, unconventional, crude toward women, cares not a whit for political correctness, and that he belittles people and tweets too much.
Much of that perception is true. But most Idahoans believe that if you get past Trump’s personality and tone, the substance and reality of Trump and his accomplishments are good for the country and good for Idaho.