Does the American Electorate Want Protectionism?
On the eve of the ‘Real Super Tuesday’ when Ohio and Florida went to the polls, I wrote for a new type of news outlet Parallax.news which treats key current affairs issue by looking at them from the perspectives of multiple actors. In that contest, trade policy has become the biggest real economic issue that separates the economic visions of the establishment candidates (Hillary, Kasich) from the insurgent populist ones (Bernie, Trump). Will it be the protectionists or the free traders who appeal to the electorate? And why do the white working class rust belters really believe that Protectionism will magically recreate lost manufacturing jobs.
The 2016 US presidential primaries have witnessed a re-emergence of populist, protectionist rhetoric. Protectionism, as opposed to free trade, is a system under which countries impose duties, tariffs, or quotas which protect domestic producers by deterring imports and promoting exports. Echoing the late 19th century progressives, Senator Bernie Sanders lambasts Wall Street tycoons as modern-day Robber Barons, while Donald Trump channels the Know-Nothing Party of the 1840s, asserting that immigrants are taking American jobs.
For both candidates, reforming American trade policy in a protectionist direction is a lever through which they hope to respectively “rebuild America’s middle class” or “Make America Great Again”. Although neither candidate has comprehensively explained how they would achieve their aims, they argue that protectionism could curtail America’s importation of cheap manufactures.
Read the whole article here.