This is the biggie. This is the one everyone is too afraid to even consider. And not without cause. After all, that’s years from now. No one can say with any level of certainty what’s going to happen. So let’s try anyway.
By way of answering, let’s start from a different angle. Why do we have farm subsidies? It’s an honest question. Most other countries don’t do this, particularly democracies. The answer is simple. Farmers have outsize influence on our elections because of a scheduling quirk. They vote first in primaries, so whoever they support gets a certain amount of momentum in a presidential election. The president will always have motivation to keep farmers happy, and directly paying them is a darn good way of doing so. If our primaries worked differently, say randomly choosing a different order of states every time, it’s safe to say that the influence of farmers would drop, and we would probably see those subsidies go away. What does that have to do with Trump?
In order to remain in power a ruler has to keep his followers and immediate circle happy. The easiest way to do so is to pay them. Farmers have outsize influence, therefore they get more money from both political parties. Farm subsidies aren’t controversial, even though their economic benefit is probably minimal. Poor people and minorities are traditionally the democrats’ base. Therefore democrats try to increase benefits to them. Rich people and religious people are traditionally republican. Therefore republicans try to cut taxes and increase the influence of religion. This isn’t particularly surprising, but we can use this phenomenon to help get some idea of whether or not Trump will win again. We just have to figure out who his followers are.
He’s a rich guy. The people he has surrounded himself with are other rich guys. He can lose an awful lot of supporters and still keep a strong base of support as long as the rich guys are happy. If they’re happy, they’ll spend money and time campaigning for him. If they’re not, then they’ll support someone else, or worse, just sit out entirely. Apathy is worse than outright hatred in politics. So will his policies benefit the rich? Yes and no.
He’s threatening to renegotiate trade deals working very well for the wealthy. He’s stemming the flow of immigrants who make up the rich people’s most economically beneficial employees. He is for cutting taxes and removing regulations, which will benefit the rich. In other words, he is going both ways. My instinct is to say that ultimately, he will behave in ways that his supporters (i.e.: rich guys) will like. The immigration ban will be watered down to the point it’s about at the same level as it was under Obama’s term (more on that in a later post). The trade deals he wants to renegotiate will probably screw the lower and middle classes further, but they’ll benefit the wealthiest. In other words, he will probably win again, as long as he keeps his wealthiest patrons happy.