In 1977, Jimmy Carter made an improbable journey from Georgia peanut grower to Democratic president in part by playing on his humble roots and receiving support from America’s farmers. Yet this bedrock voting constituency abandoned a fellow farmer to back Ronald Reagan four years later, after Carter punished Moscow for invading Afghanistan by cutting off grain sales to the Soviet Union. U.S. farmers were already struggling with collapsing crop prices, and the embargo may have been the final straw. Farmers threw their support behind Reagan, who had promised to lift the hated restrictions.
President Trump seems ready to declare victory in his effort to make America great again; last month, he said the slogan for his 2020 re-election campaign will be “Keep America Great.” But how much has really changed, particularly for the “everyday, working Americans” whom Trump said were the “backbone and heartbeat of our country” — and whose votes helped him secure the presidency?
Why couldn’t we all just get along?