Divorcing the Donorcrats: Free trade in the real world

Recently, our American friend, the Political Animal, wrote to explain, The End of the Republican Party As We Know It. And then we picked up on a Trump supporter explaining why he is on his way out of the GOP. Both these guys are Yankee flagwavers.

Yet they are filing for divorce from the GOP.

Trump, I have long sensed, is just their way of saying, We don’t care what he is like, long as he isn’t one of you serial liars and betrayers, getting rich off selling out everything we have fought for and believed—all the while thinking that we are too stupid to notice. Next time you wave a flag in our faces, we will wet it and whack you all in the faces with it.

Either that mood grows or the United States is finished.

But, guys. After you slam the door and drive away, where are you going?

Trump’s all over the map on the issues; on the other hand, he doesn’t matter that much. He is sort of like the bear busting out of the jailhouse, and leaving a plenty big enough hole for you two, and many others.

And so now? One thing we need to talk about is free trade.

You guys were always told it was a Good Thing. Good for who? Did you know that, far from being the Holy Grail of conservatism, it wasn’t always even a conservative position?

Here’s what I told the Animal recently:

I learned at U that free trade was once a liberal cause and later became a conservative cause. It shouldn’t be a conservative cause today.

A nation state protects those who live by right within its borders. Its relationships with other states, including what may be imported or exported, should be based on what is good for its own citizens. Other states are free to do the same.

Free trade between the US and Canada works because the economies are similar. The disputes at the World Trade Court between the two nations are minor uproars over stuff like softwood lumber. So?

Global free trade is something different. It means free trade with unfree nations that can undercut prices by forcing destitute people to work for low wages, thus closing factories in North America. The cheaper goods are not worth the social costs of the lost jobs and undermined communities.

The GOP donor class achieves billionaire status at the price of the Rust Belt, and sneers at the American worker as unmotivated. (If they mean that he isn’t motivated by fear of starvation or the lash, that is true.)

It’s not true that protectionism never does any good. It depends on what one wants to achieve. Canada gained a place at world financial conferences by protecting six big banks. (What if we had had six hundred little ones?) France became famous for food and wine by protecting its food and wine industries. Japan rose from post-war destitution to prosperity via a controlled economy that focused capital on the sectors most likely to lead to international success (auto, electronics). Etc.

Of course protectionism can be bad! But it is usually bad when it is protecting something that isn’t earning its keep. Sure, it’s a bad investment then. In the cases I have mentioned, it protected something that IS earning its keep.

So the next big discussion for the post-GOP traditional society is how to protect the American working class and middle class from free fall due to competition from just any unfree or failed society that can undercut prices or send in waves of migrants.

I don’t promise it will be an easy discussion, but it might help to focus energy on something beyond I-hate-the-GOP-donor-class. That’s healthy for now, but can only go so far.

Of course, all of this only matters if there is a post-GOP traditional society.

The Animal gets mad at me when I say this kind of thing, but I told him, re the current round of primaries:

I fear we are at a historical juncture when people typically lose their nerve. The donor class will survive, triumph via a Republicrat nominee, and form an alliance with the Dem donor class against the rest of traditional North America—with legacy media braying the lies and distractions that keep the audience from seeing where their true interest lies.

Again, guys, Trump is just a way of saying No! to all that. Later you must say yes to something.

That is why I bring up an honest evaluation of free trade.

Next we should look at media and defamation law, where Trump—if you are lucky enough to be stuck with him—needs some serious schooling.

  • Free trade was a lie I bought.

    It has benefited the corporations almost exclusively and weakened our society.

    • Alain

      We were misled in my opinion. I still support real free trade which excludes business and government being in bed together. It now seems clear that real free trade cannot exist as long as big government and the welfare state exist. I admit to not seeing all this when NAFTA was on the table and now accept how wrong I was at the time.

    • Blazing, one way of looking at it is this: Free trade is not a principle like habeas corpus or freedom of the media. It is a strategy like mutual non-aggression or mutual defense against a third nation.

      Movement conservatives took egregious examples of NON-strategic protectionism and wrung from them a pseudo-principle that free trade is always a good thing. It is no more “always” a good thing than mutual non-aggression or mutual defense is “always” a good thing.

      The older type of conservative sensed that, which is one reason why free trade was never a fundamental principle for him.

      We bought the idea without thinking carefully because we were sick of protected deadwood industries. The GOP (and Dem) donorcrat beneficiaries were happy to let us rubes and yay-hoos do just that. Now we are forced to train foreign workers to fill our jobs – and the donorcrats’ coffers.

      If there is any justice in the world, Trump is only a beginning, a shot across the bow. But maybe it can’t even begin to happen quite yet. Maybe never. We’ll see.

    • V10_Rob

      Canada and America are similar enough in culture, wage scales, and laws (business, labour and environmental) that there’s minimal gains from trying to abuse the system, like moving your manufacturing to another state/province so you can pay pennies on the dollar for workers or dump tons of chemicals in the water.

      At worst, you get something like the exodus of business from California to Texas, and it’s hard to fault them for it.

  • Spatchcocked

    Me too…..I was naive and in a benevolent white man’s burden mood.
    Ah, callow all knowing youth.

    • I am older and much more cynical;)

      • Drunk_by_Noon

        It seems that all the political revelations provided from the Trump candidacy have turned me damned near into a nihilist.
        Wow! We were all so LIED to about so many things.

  • Waffle

    “Free trade between the US and Canada works because the economies are similar.”

    Not really. We’re irrevocably joined at the hip geographically and previously, by shared values.

    (see Creighton’s Empire of the St. Lawrence)

    • Drunk_by_Noon

      And those very things make our economies similar.
      Free trade between the U.S. and Canada, probably beneficial to everyone.
      Free Trade between the U.S. and Mexico, or China, bad for us.

  • simus1

    Canadian softwood lumber imports under free trade were always a very small part of total consumption in the US throughout the long lived real and then fake housing boom. The complaints from domestic producers boiled down to the fact that these imports put a cap on lumber prices and they could not skin customers to the max from a monopoly position. Attempted rent seeking at its finest.

  • Shebel

    Free trade was promoted as a win win deal. All we heard were the good points. I really didn’t understand it at the time and probably didn’t care much one way or the other.

    If Politicians were Honest and told Canadians that manufacturing jobs would basically disappear—- It most certainly would Never had happened.