RURAL ROUTES/Margot Ford McMillen

No Erosion Among Rural Trump Supporters

On Friday evenings, the neighborhood gravitates to the Quik Shoppe, where you can pick up a pizza, fill your gas tank, buy your weekend beer and fishing bait. Starting around 4 p.m., there’s a critical mass of pickups extruding folks in their work clothes, greasy and grubby for sure, but grinning ear-to-ear. It’s party time!

Last week, there was a fellow who took up preaching from the concrete bump where the air hose used to be. The air hose was moved next to the building, but the little perch gave Preacher Smith a podium to spew out the news that these are the last days, predicted (he said) by JEE-zus. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were the proof.

I’m no Bible scholar, but I was pretty sure it was John who made that prediction, like the song says, but I let that pass until I could get somewhere to Google it. Mixing messages — or one writer for another — is par for the course with the Bible-thumping crowd.

Still, I listened to the preacher for a good long while and was well-educated, in a head-spinning way. Later, I found I was correct — it WAS John the Revelator— who wrote the Book of the Seven Seals, but it all goes to show what fun you can have on a Friday night at a gas station. You can hear anything there … except grumbling about our current Prez.

Because, despite what the polls say, there’s not much erosion in the loyalty to the guy elected by our red-state neighborhood. I hear anger at the lying liberal media, and a lot of, “if they’d only just let him do his job ...” but people still have their TRUMP bumper stickers and their red MAGA “Make America Great Again” ball caps. There’s a little movement toward acceptance of climate change but just as many folks believe guys like Preacher Smith in paragraph #2.

At the end of August, our boy Trump came to Missouri to talk to his base, and to preach the gospel that cutting corporate taxes is the way to prosperity. Addressing his choir for 33 minutes, he was interrupted 64 times by applause and 3 times by agreeable laughter — more than two friendly outbursts per minute. He also managed to bring attention to Ivanka, twice, reminding listeners that she is working very very hard to reform income tax rules so that moms can get better daycare services.

Number 45 managed to stay on-script mostly, meaning that he promised to cut corporate taxes to below the rate of other nations – 15% is his goal — AND to cut taxes for ordinary Americans. Another mixing of the issues, worthy of Preacher Smith. When Trump was here, remember, not one but two hurricanes were nibbling at US coasts, and left countless amounts of human misery behind. And how to pay for housing, food, cleanup, rebuilding? Not by destroying the tax system.

Trump’s minions in Washington, including most Missouri elected so-called “representatives,” are now picking up the theme. From “Blaine’s Bulletin,” a missive that comes from (Republican) US Rep Blaine Leutkemeyer, “We must lower our nation’s corporate tax rate and make the tax code for individuals and families simpler, flatter, and fairer … How are our businesses supposed to grow and create more jobs when so much time and money is wrapped up in satisfying the IRS?”

Mixing together the interests of families and corporate non-citizens comes as naturally as claiming that JEE-zus predicted climate change, and just as confusing. In fact, we do need to pay attention to the tax system. For all of us, tax figuring takes up waaaayyy too much time. The biggest players can hire folks to run their bookkeeping and be sure they get all the deductions and subsidies the government hands out. The rest of us, not so much.

Every year, there are programs that benefit corporate farmers and businesses at the expense of the independents. It’s easy to see who benefits … in agriculture, just look up the big winners in your neighborhood by going to and checking out the subsidy data for your county.

Confusion is the main game. By connecting corporate gains and benefits for ordinary citizens, these preachers manage to obfuscate the fact that they are robbing the government and making it impossible to pay for services that we might depend on. Tax reform promises relief for the corporate, which means these guys themselves, and they mask their agenda with the tribulations of the average tax payer. Blaine continues: “To illustrate just how complex the tax code is, since 2001 the tax code has been changed roughly 6,000 times. That’s more than once a day. How are we as citizens supposed to keep up with that?”

Don’t be fooled by the head-spinning preachers that want your attention. They say nothing about who will pay for the relief of the climate-battered, the hungry, the poor, the next generation of learners. They are only out to take care of themselves.

Margot Ford McMillen farms near Fulton, Mo., and co-hosts Farm and Fiddle on sustainable ag issues on KOPN 89.5 FM in Columbia, Mo. Email:

From The Progressive Populist, October 15, 2017

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