Good summary of Trump’s appeal but fails to me the case that the majority of American voters will buy it. As a corporate history researcher, I documented Wall Street shipping jobs, factories, and capital to low-wage countries for 30 years.
Of course China was the chief beneficiary of all that, with Bill Gates crowing about lifting one billion of its citizens out of poverty, never mind the Hillbilly Elegy / opioid epidemic blowback. But the tide has turned, at least in the more elevated corners of The Swamp; consider “Honey Badger” AG Bill Barr calling out the Chinese Communist Party for all manner of aggressions.
“It’s the economy, stupid” was the George Stephanopolous sloganeering that guided Bill Clinton into the White House; today I would say it’s the wage gap. It’s striking to see even right-wing governments freely signing checks, but that’s how apparent it is; it’s the common denominator of 2020, from the death of opioid zombie George Floyd to the astounding coronavirus work and travel restrictions that hit the poorest the hardest, while bolstering the case for universal health care. The last time we tried Reaganomics, all the money went to China and a few elites; that is not a scenario favorable to conservative social values or populism in general.
A major lesson of the 2016 election was that the neoliberal consensus of the prior thirty years was not the panacea its advocates claimed. Trump’s candidacy was premised on the notion that the national government should work for the interests of the nation’s people, not on behalf of globalist concerns and aloof cosmopolitan elites. Government could be reformed to strengthen the nation, rather than operating as the piggy bank for and protector of internationalists.
It’s interesting to reflect how entrenched the assumptions of neoliberalism were prior to 2015-2016. When Trump began his historic campaign, virtually no one on the Right was talking about tariffs, other than Pat Buchanan (and a long essay on the necessity of a trade war with China that Oren Cass wrote for National Review in 2014). The outsourcing of jobs overseas was assumed to be a short-term sacrifice that would result in more efficiency
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