Trump’s Reelection Strategy Is Admitting His First Term Was A Failure
The old order is passing away. Treaties and alliances dating from the Cold War are ceasing to be relevant and cannot long be sustained. Economic patriotism and ethnonationalism, personified by Trump, seem everywhere ascendant. Transnationalism is yielding to tribalism. — Pat Buchanan, 1/20/2017, the day Donald Trump was inaugurated
Yesterday, I wrote an article going after the idea that the COVID-19 outbreak will lead to some kind of mystical “end of globalism.” Then I got to thinking, what reason does anyone, even my nationalist bothers, have to vote for this President?
During a rally in February 2016, Donald Trump said the following on unemployment:
Don’t believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5% unemployment. The number’s probably 28%, 29%, as high as 35%, in fact, I even heard recently 42%.
According to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, the unemployment rate once this virus hits its peak could be as high as 32%. Using Trump’s numbers, that means the number could be as high 179.2%, 185.6%, 224%, or even as high as 268.8!
Okay, I’ll be serious for the rest of the article.
One of the main promises of the Trump campaign was that he’d bring jobs back to the United States. “Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences,” he said when he was President elect. That is what attracted so many middle and lower class swing state voters to him, and so the old wisdom goes.
However, in his first year more jobs were outsourced to other countries than in Obama’s last. During the campaign, he promised GM workers in Ohio that manufacturing would be coming back, said plant is currently closed down and has been so for over a year.
Recently, Director Of The Office Of Trade And Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro said the following on the topic of trade:
If we learn anything from this crisis, it should be never again. Never again should we have to depend on the rest of the world for our essential medicines and counter-measures.
I thought we already learned that lesson over three years ago! Isn’t that why we elected Donald Trump in the first place?
Yet, not only has Donald Trump not done one of his campaign promises, him and his ideological counterparts in the writing world are banking on the people just waking up tomorrow and wanting the trade relationship we’ve been building for almost fifty years to just disappear.
Look at how the most reason article by Sohrab Ahmari on this topic opens:
“I lost my secure, well-paying manufacturing job to free trade with the People’s Republic of China, and all I got was this damn virus that killed Grandma — and shut down even the lousy, insecure service-industry gig the Chinese had left me.”
Whether the political and journalistic classes like it or not, that’s how many working-class and left-behind Americans will politically interpret the events of the past couple of months.
I know this will not be the case. How? Well, in a column from earlier that month, Ann Coulter listed many other incidents of similar, or even worse proportions:
Thanks to “globalism” — i.e., cheap goods from China — we’ve gotten many wondrous things, for example:
— Toothpaste on American shelves made with a poison found in antifreeze.
— Toxic Chinese drywall installed in about 100,000 U.S. homes, emitting noxious fumes that destroyed electrical wiring and metal fixtures and sickened homeowners. Replacement of the drywall, pipes and wiring cost Americans billions of dollars.
— Hundreds, possibly thousands, of American dogs killed by melamine-laced Chinese dog food in 2007.
— The loss of about 200,000 beautiful maple trees lining the streets of small New England towns, eaten by Asian long-horned beetles that arrived on Chinese cargo ships in 1996. The U.S. taxpayer spends hundreds of millions of dollars to eradicate the repeated outbreaks that continue to this day, despite promises from the Chinese to do better.
— Viral pandemics — H1N1 (from China), bird flu (from China), SARS (from China) and now the Wuhan virus (from China).
Is it really worth paying $3 for a T-shirt at Walmart, rather than $9? The precise reason Chinese goods are so cheap is that they skip the crucial quality-control step.
Tell me, do you recall any of those events dramatically changing our trade relationships with China? Do you even recall the vast majority of those events?
Why is this? Well, while the vast majority of nationalist conservatives like to mock a worldview “in which every other good had to be sacrificed on the altar of efficiency and cheap consumer goods,” as some kind of ivory tower idea, that is how quite a few Americans think. Specifically, ones who do not have the money to survive if prices increase dramatically, even if that does mean the product is made in the United States.
In 2019, Pat Buchanan asked “what great nation did free traders ever build?” In truth, the one he’s living in seems like a good example. In the same column, Buchanan even admits “once a nation is hooked on the cheap goods that are the narcotic free trade provides, it is rarely able to break free.”
Why is that? Is it because the American people are just slaves to consumerism — which is entirely based on their own free choices, man I hate being a slave to freedom.
No, it is because the American people have long since chosen free trade as acceptable even if it has some negative economic consequences. We were clearly asked this in 1992, when we picked Clinton and Bush over Ross Perot. That’s why we picked Dole and Clinton over Buchanan in 1996. That’s why we picked Bush and Gore over Buchanan and Nader in 2000 — and so on, and so on.
The nationalists are simply trying to justify this rhetoric that this time globalism will be over once and for all, and we’ve heard this a million times before. Yet, nothing hits the nail in the coffin quite as hard as them not only getting a candidate that ran on nationalism, but him refusing to enact the various nationalist policies he promised to the point where now they have to promise he needs a tide shift, after promising the tide shifted when he was elected!
This campaign season is something else, let me tell you.