Donald Trump has famously said that his base is so loyal to him that he could openly kill someone and they would still stick with him. There is some evidence to support that claim. But it appears that there is something that matters more to his supporters than murder and that is their right to vape.
When reports of the deaths and mysterious lung-related ailments that are thought to be associated with vaping first emerged, Trump came out in support for a federal ban on it. That would be understandable for Trump since he does not smoke or drink alcohol and he likely sees vaping as in the same category of things he personally dislikes. But it turns out that many of his supporters are passionate about this issue and are threatening to revolt against him if he carries out his threat, and Trump is apparently caving in to them
E. J. Dickson explains this rather surprising development.
Hundreds of members of the vaping community gathered to protest an impending vape flavors ban announced by President Donald Trump, taking hits off their elaborate hardware while clutching signs reading “Make America vape again,” or “Vape kills like Epstein killed himself.” The crowd frequently broke into chants of the catchphrase of the afternoon: “We vape, we vote.”
“Keep it going! Make him hear it!,” James Jarvis of the Ohio Vapor Trade Association urged from onstage, referring to President Trump in the White House directly behind the protesters. (Trump had already left via helicopter for an Alabama football game, delaying the rally by an hour and forcing the grumbling, puffing hordes onto the sidewalk.)
The vast majority of people at the rally were vaping shop owners and industry advocates whose businesses had been significantly impacted by the events of the past few months.
Many of the attendees expressed their outrage toward the announcement of Trump’s ban, which they interpreted as a fundamental misunderstanding of what they believed was driving the vaping epidemic: vitamin E acetate, an additive in many black-market THC cartridges. On Friday, CDC deputy director Dr. Anne Schuchat reported that vitamin E acetate had been identified as a “very strong culprit” in the lung injury epidemic, and that 86% of lung injury patients had reported vaping THC cartridges.
Most of the rally attendees Rolling Stone spoke with, with the exception of one Bernie Sanders supporter, were former Trump supporters who said they would no longer vote for him in 2020 should be pass the flavors ban.
Such numbers may indeed have prompted Trump to walk back the ban somewhat on Friday by suggesting that the policy may just limit the sale of vaping products to vape stores: “You know, there are some pretty good aspects,” he said “including jobs, frankly.” But for some former Trump supporters in the vaping community, that walkback may not have been enough. “Its’ definitely going to be a process to find a candidate who represent the interests of our industry…I’m in the market [for a new candidate],” said John Murphy, a vape store owner in Huntington, Kansas who attended the rally with his three young sons. “I need a candidate who is gonna be truthful and honest and forward and not wishy-washy.”
Trump may boast of the loyalty of his base but what this demonstrates is that he is also at their mercy. They will support him only as long as his actions are those they agree with or does not affect them personally. If he betrays them, he risks having them turn on him. He has a tiger by the tail.
Vaping seems to be one issue where the base is calling the shots and Trump has to follow.