Saturday, March 19, 2016

Trumping Free Trade

There's not much to like about Donald Trump. But, Tom Walkom writes, Trump may bring a new perspective to the present conventional wisdom on Free Trade:

As journalist Thomas Frank noted this week on CBC Radio and earlier in the Guardian, Trump’s success with white working-class voters in the U.S. stems less from his racism and more from his recognition that free trade has cost too many people their jobs.
In his rambling, stream-of-consciousness speeches, Trump returns again and again to free trade. Does Ford want to build cars in another country? Go ahead, Trump dares the auto giant. But be prepared to pay a stiff tariff on every vehicle you bring into the U.S.

Does Carrier plan to move its air conditioner manufacturing plant from Indiana to low-wage Mexico? Fine, says Trump. Just don’t expect to sell those air conditioners in the U.S.

Perhaps Trump too is simply playing politics. Perhaps he’d fall into line with the free-trade needs of corporate America if he won the White House.
But in the meantime, he and Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders, another free-trade critic, are changing the dynamic of American politics.

Make no mistake. Trump's supporters are seething with resentment. And, in general, they're pretty ignorant. But they're also the people who have lost their jobs to the globalized race for free trade. Sanders supporters are young and have had no jobs to lose. They know, however, that what "free trade" has left them is McJobs.

If Trump becomes president, the world will be thrown into chaos. But, if Trump and Sanders force a discussion on free trade which ultimately re-balances the system in terms of who wins and who loses, then perhaps some good will come from the wretched campaign for the American presidency.


10 comments:

Anonymous said...

If it were not for his divisive and base rhetoric of hatred and bigotry, which seems part of what Trump is offering, then I might agree that the most important thing motivating his supporters is the exportation of American job opportunities, a central plank in Sanders' platform too. However, there the similarities between the two end. Trump's appeal is in his entire package, including his ugly rhetoric, which shouldn't be brushed off as "just words". What we are seeing is a growing number of people who, over decades, have been left in the lurch. Suffering from poverty, lack of education, gross ignorance, they have become victims of self-interested political decisions. This election campaign suggests that the chickens are coming home to roost. It looks like America's civil society is imploding. Trump has simply stepped in front of it. He is not an igniting spark, he is litmus paper.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Anon. Trump is more of a result than a cause. But he's a highly dangerous result -- which should lead thinking people to reconsider the causes that have made him possible.

Hugh said...

ISDS challenges from NAFTA against Canada seem to be piling up. We can do without that aspect of these so-called trade deals.

Owen Gray said...

The ISDS clauses in these agreements are at the core of the public opposition to free trade, Hugh. They ensure who the winners will be.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

The problem will free trade Owen is that it is not about Free Trade. No matter who wins the election including Trump, none when coming up against the Military/Neoliberal elite who are the real power in the Oval Office will be able to challenge it, nor change it. It's to powerful. It cannot be challenged by the electoral process, regardless of what Bernie or even Trump says.I'm with Chris Hedges on this in that this corporate powerful elite needs to be challenged from the outside by movements from the American people.Trumps comments on free trade hit the mark, but in reality they are meaningless, because even if he became President he wouldn't or couldn't act on changing trade. His rhetoric of racism and hatred should exclude him from becoming President. I don't think though that this bigotry is what concerns the republican party about Trump. They can live with that, because it reflects in part what they believe. Imagery is very important to the power elite, after all they hit a home run with choosing OBAMA. The power elite may find having Trump as President an embarassment. I realize I may be being to simplistic, but I can see where many of especially the elites would cringe if Trump became President.The republicans not so much, because after all Cruz is one of their candidate and he is also an embarassment.

Owen Gray said...

Neo-liberalism has succeeded because the coup it has championed has been comparatively quiet. Pam. Trump doesn't fit the neo-liberal mold because he is too loud and too self absorbed.

Anonymous said...

Free trade is an oxymoron.

Owen Gray said...

Quite true, Anon. Somebody always pays a price for the deal.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

hmmm.. Maybe you're right Owen and maybe that's why the republicans and the power elite are so desperately trying to stop him.

Owen Gray said...

I'm willing to bet that the Koch brothers are very uncomfortable with Trump, Pam. They are used to working under the radar.