When Donald Trump stunned the political world and jumped into the Republican primary in 2015, he was ridiculed by the media and attacked by the establishment of both parties. The reason: He threatened the entire political class. The future president didn’t rise up through the ranks of elected office; he didn’t speak in political jargon; and he rejected the politically correct groupthink that elites have imposed on the American people.

But for many Americans, the Donald offered a breath of fresh air.

For at least 25 years, politics as usual left Middle America — especially places like South Jersey — behind. Hardworking Americans were sick and tired of watching politicians lavish Wall Street with taxpayer-funded bailouts. We had suffered from corporate outsourcing that decimated our manufacturing base and sent millions of jobs overseas. And we were frustrated with Congress’ refusal to end the massive flow of uncontrolled immigration that jeopardized national security, pushing welfare spending through the roof, straining state education budgets, and distorting the labor market.

Donald Trump saw what entrenched politicians of both parties refused to see. The policy decisions that welcomed China into the World Trade Organization, encouraged U.S. companies to turn over vital sectors of our economy to rival powers, and encouraged massive illegal immigration were hollowing out the American heartland.

And in 2015, Trump set out to reverse these ominous policies.

Far removed from the Washington-Wall Street axis of power, South Jersey was left behind. The closing of the General Mills soup plant in Vineland last year, as well as Gerresheimer Glass and Ardagh Glass in Millville and Salem in 2015 and 2014 respectively, are just a few examples. South Jersey counties remain the poorest in the state, and their employment numbers continue to lag behind Southeast Pennsylvania and North Jersey.

South Jersey needs a real conservative leader to stand with President Trump against corporate and globalist elites, and for America. That means fully implementing President Trump’s agenda to make America great again: • Recognizing Communist China as our greatest global threat that — we just learned — has been operating a decade-long espionage ring inside U.S. governmental agencies and universities; • Renegotiating the unfair trade deals that encourage outsourcing and penalizing U.S. corporations that export jobs overseas; • Building President Trump’s border wall and fixing the immigration system to serve American interests; and • Investing in proven growth sectors like defense and manufacturing to create family-wage jobs and long-term economic stability.

Until we get out of the rabbit hole career politicians chased us down a generation ago, South Jersey will continue to be shortchanged.

Moreover, we should drain the swamp by enacting term limits on career politicians and passing the HIRE Act that would relocate the headquarters of most federal agencies — and 90 percent of federal jobs — from Washington, D.C., to the states. This proposed legislation would not only disperse Washington’s power center, but would also trigger massive infrastructure improvements to accommodate the relocated agencies and their employees.

By moving a few agencies to South Jersey, we could extend the PATCO high-speed line to Atlantic City and Vineland, upgrade the Atlantic City Expressway and Route 55 to interstate standards, widen both, and extend the latter to the Garden State Parkway. We could also build a bridge linking Cape May to the Delmarva Peninsula so that new populations can travel to South Jersey quickly.

But here’s the kicker: We should require that all such projects — from rebooting the military to upgrading infrastructure — employ only American workers and use supplies, tools, equipment and materials that are made right here at home.

These game changers will help President Trump make America great again, an inherently optimistic vision, rooted in Abraham Lincoln’s understanding of Americans as “the almost chosen people.” Indeed, we are the hardest working, most creative and most reliable people on Earth. When we level the playing field and give people the tools to succeed, Americans will live up to their destiny.

Washington Democrats have learned nothing from Trump’s historic 2016 victory and don’t understand voters in places like South Jersey. Instead of recognizing the fallout of failed globalist policies, they have moved farther to the left, embraced radical socialism, and doubled-down on their disdain for Middle America.

The people of South Jersey voted for President Trump by 5 points. We reject the Washington Democrats’ agenda because we are industrious and family oriented. Our communities are tight-knit, our churches well-attended, and our national pride unshakeable.

South Jersey will vote for President Trump again because his policies will make America — and South Jersey — great again.

Bob Patterson, of Ocean City and Haddonfield, is a Republican candidate in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District.

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