Trump is alienating working-class supporters with national monument rollback

Trump is alienating working-class supporters with national monument rollback
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President Trump announced that he will dramatically reduce the Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Trump made the announcement in Utah, where both of these national monuments are located.

I have been a vocal supporter of Trump and his agenda since he captured the Republican nomination in the spring of 2016. I served as a media surrogate for the campaign and organized LGBT for Trump. 

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I have been enthusiastic in my support for Trump because I believe that he is strongly committed to making America great again — especially for the tens of millions of working-class Americans, neglected for decades by both parties, who were the backbone of Trump’s defeat of 16 Republican rivals and his stunning victory over Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Establishment-backed Vukmir wins Wisconsin GOP Senate primary Ironworker and star of viral video wins Dem primary for Speaker Ryan's seat MORE.

 

Trump has been willing to stand up to the Republican establishment and buck conservative orthodoxy on behalf of working-class Americans on issues like immigration, trade and foreign policy, which is why the President’s reversal on public lands is so puzzling and so disappointing.

During the Republican primaries, Trump was the only candidate seeking the nomination who was willing to stand out on the issue of public lands, pledging to be a great steward of our public lands. He said, “we have to be great stewards of this land. This land is magnificent land. And we have to be great stewards of this land.”

Unlike the rest of the GOP field, who parroted the establishment talking points, Trump made it clear he would oppose efforts to return public lands to the states, saying, “I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do with it.”

Now, despite these promises, Trump is choosing the Republican establishment over working-class Americans. By siding with the stale Republican establishment, the president is choosing to view our lands the same way they do: as nothing more than another commodity that can be bought, sold and exploited.

The establishment sees public lands as just another commodity because to them public lands are completely unnecessary. Who needs to worry about access to public lands when you can afford exotic vacations, five-star hotels and private hunting reserves?

This is not how Trump’s base thinks about public lands. Indeed, recent polling in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin shows that Trump voters in those blue-collar states that were so key to his election overwhelmingly oppose efforts to reduce our federal public lands.

It is not surprising that Trump’s working class base feels so differently than establishment elitists do about public lands.

For working-class Americans, public lands are an essential part of their life. These are the places where families vacation, places where we show reverence to the greatness of our country, and places to hunt and fish. Working class Americans understand that some things in this country are so fundamental to who we are as a nation, that they aren’t for sale at any price.

I am not the only Trump supporter expressing dismay and concern over this decision — others have written about how this decision fails to protect lands sacred to Native peoples and how this decision could unintentionally open the door to a new front in the progressive left’s war monuments.

At this critical juncture of his presidency, where Trump faces unrelenting attacks from the left, the media and Never Trump Republicans, now is not the time for him to turn his back on his base. Now, more than ever, Trump needs to be willing to stand up to the Republican establishment and fight for policies that will improve the lives of all Americans.

Christopher Barron is a conservative strategist and the president of Right Turn Strategies. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRBarron.