The Jury Talks Back


Trump Tariffs Are Hurting These Trump Supporters, But They Still Love the Man Who Conned Them

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 12:43 pm

The L.A. Times has a sad story of Trump supporters from the manufacturing sector whose livelihoods are being destroyed by tariffs, but who refuse to abandon their support for the con man responsible:

Jimmie Coffer, a machine programmer at the nation’s largest nail-making plant, voted for Donald Trump partly because he was confident he would bring manufacturing jobs back to America.

So the 39-year-old factory worker was shocked last month when 60 of his co-workers were laid off after the Trump administration imposed a 25% tariff on the steel his company imports from Mexico. Now, as his bosses cut back hours and warn they may have to let 200 more workers go in the coming weeks, he worries he may lose his job as a result of the president’s policies.

But Coffer is still gung-ho about Trump.

“I support him 100%,” he said last week. “In fact, I’d like to shake his hand. He’s doing a great job.”

. . . .

Trump won 79% of the vote here in Butler County and, while many were surprised to discover the tariffs are hurting their town, they still believe Trump is on the right track and firmly support his goal of pouring life back into dilapidated manufacturing communities — even if they end up losers.

The article is a sad tale of people who were sold a bill of goods and are desperate to believe they weren’t conned. Few things are sadder to watch, but the psychology of con artists and their marks ensures that it will happen:

Con artists aren’t just master manipulators; they are expert storytellers. Much as we are intrinsically inclined to trust, we are naturally drawn to a compelling story. Just ask any advertising executive or political operative. “When a fact is plausible, we still need to test it,” Konnikova writes with characteristic concision. “When a story is plausible, we often assume it’s true.” And once we’ve accepted a story as true, we’re not likely to question it; on the contrary, we will probably unconsciously bend any contradictory information to conform to the conclusion we’ve already drawn. There’s a name for this phenomenon — confirmation bias. It provides the key psychological scaffolding for the long con, during the course of which the mark finds a way to rationalize any number of warning signs.

The L.A. Times says they are standing by their man:

Conspiracy theories and rumors also have spread. Some locals theorize the company’s Mexican owners have long planned to relocate south of the border and are using the tariffs as an excuse to finally leave. (Company officials do not rule out relocating to Mexico — where they could buy steel and export the finished nails back to the U.S. without tariffs — but insist they are committed to remaining in Poplar Bluff.)

“This has nothing to do with tariffs — or Trump,” Mark Orton, the owner of Bluff Barber Shop, said as he dabbed shaving foam on a customer’s face. “It’s smoke and mirrors. This Mexican company is just trying to blame Trump.”

His client, a red-headed factory worker who declined to give his name, blamed politicians and newspapers for “banging on” Trump.

“They can’t say anything nice about him,” he griped. “If Trump ran into a burning building to pull out children, they’d say he’s hurting firefighters.”

Trying to fight persistent and pigheaded ignorance often feels the same as repeatedly bashing your head into a brick wall. You can do it. But at a certain point you start to ask why.


  1. Surely a few of them are starting to doubt Trump or themselves, for believing Trump could do this and no one will get hurt.

    But what bothers me the most is that they probably wouldn’t care about this at all if other Americans were getting hurt. That’s the worst part of Obama and Trump. They don’t care if Americans get hurt.

    Comment by DRJ — 7/6/2018 @ 4:40 pm

  2. … as long as it isn’t them or their family.

    Comment by DRJ — 7/6/2018 @ 4:41 pm

  3. And some of them think that the brinksmanship on tariffs is necessary, trading short term pain for long term gain.

    Its a possibility.

    Comment by SPQR — 7/8/2018 @ 10:34 am

  4. I understand that. Reagan effectively used falling oil prices to pressure the Soviet Union, but it also hurt American independent oil operators and devastated the drilling companies. No one was happy about it but they supported Reagan because the result was good.

    But Trump isn’t going to bring China to its knees. He probably won’t even get concessions from Mexico or Canada. So why ruin American businesses based on wishful thinking?

    Comment by DRJ — 7/9/2018 @ 9:06 am

  5. Trump today:

    Tariffs are the greatest! Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs. It’s as simple as that – and everybody’s talking! Remember, we are the “piggy bank” that’s being robbed. All will be Great!

    6:29 AM · Jul 24, 2018

    Comment by DRJ — 7/24/2018 @ 7:24 am

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