End the duopoly

Politics creates economic illusion in Houdini’s hometown

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APPLETON, Wis. — Nothing can shake Scott Rice’s faith that President Donald Trump will save the U.S. economy — not seeing businesses close or friends furloughed, not even his own hellish bout with the novel coronavirus.

Rice reveres the president the way Wisconsin loves the Green Bay Packers. He has painted “T-R-U-M-P” on his lawn, spelled it out with Christmas lights on his roof and painted it on his steel-toed shoes.

He was also a virus skeptic, believing it was a hoax meant to hurt Trump and the economy. But then the disease seeped into the paper mill where he works, and he was stricken, suddenly losing his appetite, even for his favorite Taco Bell. He lay in bed, feverish, drenched in sweat. Two air-conditioner units didn’t cool him. His body seemed at war with itself.

After 16 days at home, Rice told his co-workers that the disease was scary and real. But Trump held onto his vote for one reason: The stock market was climbing.

“The 401(k)s, just the economy,” Rice said. “He got jobs going. Just accumulated a lot of jobs, being a businessman.”

Rice’s belief represents the foundation of Trump’s hopes — that Americans believe the economy is strong enough to […]

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