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Battleground States Caught in Crossfire of Trade War

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

I am a supporter of President Trump. This is not an attack on the president. This is a critique of the inflated sway of battleground states in relation to international trade policies and the state-based winner-take-all system of our presidential elections.


In case you have been living under a rock, the United States and China are engaging in retaliatory trade policies, the making of a trade war. While this is a troubling turn of events, what is more troubling is that everyone seems to be missing the reasons why these tariffs on foreign steel/aluminum imports and Chinese retaliation were adopted in the first place.
We can sum it up in three words – Macomb County, Michigan – the third largest county in Michigan; a working-class county that voted for Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan; a county where the term “Reagan Democrat” was coined; a county where nearly 500 auto-related industries provide over 44,000 jobs. According to Tony Fabrizio, pollster for the Trump campaign, the president’s narrow victory was due to four counties in Florida and one in Michigan – Macomb County. In the words of former Democrat Congressman Dave Bonior, “Trump comes in and ends up winning the county by almost 50,000 votes. And the margin in Michigan was 10,700 or something. So Macomb basically gave him the state.”
This is the tragedy of the state-based, winner-take-all system we use to elect the president of the United States. Electoral math drives protectionist trade policies to favor parochial interests in battleground states. Also, foreign countries i.e. China are able to enact retaliatory tariffs to punish industries in battleground states such as Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Iowa.
Conservatives, liberals, and moderates should unite to reform the system to make every voter, in every state, relevant in every presidential election. Now is the time to adopt the National Popular Vote. We can change our presidential election system to limit the power and influence of a few battleground states in order to better serve our nation.


The current state-based winner-take-all system has even turned on the battleground states. Harley-Davidson is being targeted with EU retaliatory tariffs. China is targeting the automotive industry centered in battleground Michigan and the auto-parts industry that feeds it in the critical swing state of Ohio.
Tariffs on agricultural products announced by China are NOT about sending a signal to Trump state voters in rural red states but intended to do damage among corn, soybean and hog farmers in battleground states like Iowa and Wisconsin.

Here’s reality - the state-based winner-take-all system allows foreign governments to weaponize protectionism against the battleground states and encourages presidents to start trade wars in order to win parochial voters in a handful of battleground states.
The current system is broken. Let’s unite in all of our interests and reform it now.
Here is how the National Popular Vote Plan works:

The U.S. Constitution (Article II, Section 1) gives state legislatures exclusive power over awarding their electoral votes: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors...” The National Popular Vote bill would replace the current state-based system, with a national popular vote for president. When states totaling 270 or more electoral votes have adopted the National Popular Vote bill, they agree to award their electors (all 270 or more) to the presidential candidate who wins the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.


The proposal has been adopted by 10 states and the District of Columbia totaling 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 Electoral College votes required to bring the National Popular Vote interstate compact into effect.

It has passed a legislative chamber (either the House or Senate) chamber in 12 additional states with 96 electoral votes.

The movement is bi-partisan, having passed the Arizona House of Representatives, the Oklahoma Senate and New York Senate. We have a bi-partisan solution to a non-partisan problem. The National Popular Vote plan is the only way to right size the influence of battleground states and make every voter, in every state politically relevant in every presidential election.

Let’s continue to cover the dangers of trade wars, protectionism, and tariffs. Let’s continue to investigate the industries that get targeted and what it might mean for American jobs and global economic growth. But, let’s also focus on the root cause of the current trade war – which is the state-based winner take all system and the National Popular Vote system that addresses the core threat of parochialism in presidential elections.

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