by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Four days of bombast in Cleveland and four more in Philadelphia have highlighted one aspect of the political scene: Under Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the parties are coming closer together on economic issues—and that isn’t a good sign.
The parties and the candidates do have differences, mostly on domestic social issues and foreign entanglements, which are as important as they are deafening. But regardless of party, regardless of candidate, Americans are being drafted in their millions to serve as cannon fodder in the bipartisan war against economic common sense.
Before Election Day, we will hear a whole lot more about income and wealth inequality, about how the system is rigged, about the 40-year decline of the middle class, and, most of all, about job-killing free-trade agreements.
In each case, the reverse is true. But the good arguments for economic efficiency and justice won’t be provided by these candidates. …
… As a Democratic candidate for president, Hillary Clinton has a foot in each of the party’s buckets, old and new, and she clanks when she walks. She was pro-trade as a First Lady and as a senator. As secretary of state, she supported negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. She knew the U.S. negotiators were responding to complaints about past trade pacts from labor and environmental pressure groups. Clinton thought unions and greens would follow her; instead, they looked over her shoulder to find new leaders.
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders haven’t made protectionism respectable or sensible, but they have delivered a message that resonates among unrespected people who believe imports cost them their jobs. By last winter, Clinton had to choose: Set a course for disaster, or outflank Sanders by opposing the Trans-Pacific trade deal. …
… That’s some choice on trade for voters in the election of 2016: Pick a maniacal truth-teller who espouses policies that will be dangerously wrong, or pick a cynical liar who may be able to do the useful things she says she opposes.