Trump Stumbles in Iowa. Why? It’s the Ethanol, Stupid.

A few weeks ago, CNN reported the following:

Ted Cruz is asking Iowans to abandon a deeply held personal and economic belief intertwined with their agricultural way of life: that the nation’s ethanol mandates are a force for good.

It is a politically risky tactic. Even as Cruz tries to lock up voters in the crucial early voting state, he’s been put on the defensive thanks to a powerful interest group following him everywhere he goes and rivals quick to attack his opposition to the popular subsidy.

He waded fully into the cold waters on Wednesday, with an op-ed in the Des Moines Register, pitching himself as a pro-farmer truth-sayer fighting against a corps of lobbyists hoodwinking Iowa Republicans.

How risky did it turn out to be? Cruz won the Iowa caucuses. Donald Trump, who was favored to win, lost to Cruz, even after Trump sang the praises of ethanol subsidies. It’s highly ironic. Trump is not supposed to be a politician. But Trump defended ethanol subsidies with all his might, and what did it get him? Trump’s loss in Iowa to anti-ethanol subsidy Ted Cruz proves the very point Trump himself has been the biggest example of—that it’s not business as usual, at least not in the Republican party, not this year (so far).

If America is ever to change, or become great again, it has to let go of government goodies. America has to return to the concept of limited government and individual/property rights which enabled it to be great throughout its first several centuries. Politicians work very hard to make large segments of the population dependent on freebies. Once that dependence is in place, they defend it by snarling, smearing or intimidating anyone who dares to disagree that life or death hinges upon their particular subsidy continuing.

Donald Trump is supposedly fearless. Yet he’s not so fearless that he stood up to the ethanol subsidy lobby in Iowa’s Republican Party establishment. As one observer put it, “Trump [campaigning in Iowa] has done everything but drink pints of ethanol on the stump and promise to open up his own beautiful, gold-plated, Trump-branded ethanol production plants.”

When people rail against “career politicians,” they don’t always grasp what they’re against. They just know they don’t like what they see. This remains an underlying weakness of the whole Tea Party/anti-Establishment phenomenon taking place on the American right. It’s important to be clear what you’re against, and—by implication—identify what you’re for. To be against ethanol subsidies implies that you’re for a free market, that you’re for individual liberty, that you’re for private property, and that you’re for real capitalism (not the fake, crony form of “capitalism.”)

Real capitalism consists of people peacefully trading in a free market where prices are set by supply and demand, and never, ever by any form of government intervention, regulation or subsidy. Really, there’s no way to be against ethanol subsidies unless you’re actually in favor of real capitalism. And once you’re in favor of ethanol or any other subsidies, you’re logically and morally helpless to fight any other subsidies. Donald Trump may have revealed his true colors when he came out in support of those subsidies, just like he keeps insisting that government can and should provide medical care for all.

If Donald Trump fails to go on and win the Republican nomination as many still expect, remember the ethanol subsidy factor in Iowa. It seems like a bland or unimportant subject, to most of us. But therein lies the whole key for defeating socialism and allowing a truly free country to emerge from the mess both Democrats and Republicans have created over a span of many decades.

The only way to make America great again is to make America economically free again. Ethanol subsidies should be the first to go. Cruz, to his credit, saw this; Trump did not.


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