Gaius Publius: When Trump Talks Trade, Voters Listen

By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. Originally published at at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.

Donald Trump talking about trade during his March 8 victory speech
Shorter Thomas Frank: It’s easier for liberals to blame Trump voters for racism than to blame themselves for the job-loss and pain of the working class.

I want to share a piece about Donald Trump, racism and working class voters. It’s long enough (and good enough) to ask you to read the whole thing. It’s by Thomas Frank, the What’s the Matter with Kansas writer, looking at the Trump phenomenon and asking why.

Before you read, though, take a moment to watch less than two minutes of Donald Trump above, from his victory speech after winning in Michigan and Mississippi. I’ve cued it up to start at the remarks I want to highlight, Trump discussing our trade deficit.

Now Thomas Frank, writing in The Guardian. He starts by noting the utter invisibility of real working Americans to our elite class, including our media elites, and especially our liberal media elites (my emphasis throughout):

Millions of ordinary Americans support Donald Trump. Here’s why

When he isn’t spewing insults, the Republican frontrunner is hammering home a powerful message about free trade and its victims

Let us now address the greatest American mystery at the moment: what motivates the supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump?

I call it a “mystery” because the working-class white people who make up the bulk of Trump’s fan base show up in amazing numbers for the candidate, filling stadiums and airport hangars, but their views, by and large, do not appear in our prestige newspapers. On their opinion pages, these publications take care to represent demographic categories of nearly every kind, but “blue-collar” is one they persistently overlook. The views of working-class people are so foreign to that universe that when New York Times columnist Nick Kristof wanted to “engage” a Trump supporter last week, he made one up, along with this imaginary person’s responses to his questions.

When members of the professional class wish to understand the working-class Other, they traditionally consult experts on the subject. And when these authorities are asked to explain the Trump movement, they always seem to zero in on one main accusation: bigotry. Only racism, they tell us, is capable of powering a movement like Trump’s, which is blowing through the inherited structure of the Republican party like a tornado through a cluster of McMansions.

The conclusion of these writers is this:

The Trump movement is a one-note phenomenon, a vast surge of race-hate. Its partisans are not only incomprehensible, they are not really worth comprehending.

And yet…

A lot of people are racists, including those not supporting Trump. But people have other concerns as well, especially working people. They are dying faster than they used to, from drugs and despair, and they fear for their jobs and their families, for very good reasons. This economy is failing them.

They also hate — and understand — “free trade.”

Trump Also Talks Trade

Donald Trump talks about more than just race and immigration. He talks about trade and the trade deficit, an issue that powered Bernie Sanders to his Michigan victory as well. From the New York Times:

Trade and Jobs Key to Victory for Bernie Sanders

Democratic presidential candidate had campaigned in Traverse City, Mich., in decades until Senator Bernie Sanders pulled up to the concert hall near the Sears store on Friday. Some 2,000 people mobbed him when he arrived, roaring in approval as he called the country’s trade policies, and Hillary Clinton’s support for them, “disastrous.”

“If the people of Michigan want to make a decision about which candidate stood with workers against corporate America and against these disastrous trade agreements, that candidate is Bernie Sanders,” Mr. Sanders said in Traverse City, about 250 miles north of Detroit.

Mr. Sanders pulled off a startling upset in Michigan on Tuesday by traveling to communities far from Detroit and by hammering Mrs. Clinton on an issue that resonated in this still-struggling state: her past support for trade deals that workers here believe robbed them of manufacturing jobs. Almost three-fifths of voters said that trade with other countries was more likely to take away jobs, according to exit polls by Edison Research, and those voters favored Mr. Sanders by a margin of more than 10 points.

There is no question — America’s billionaire-friendly, job-destroying trade policy is toxic — again, literally. That’s why Obama and his bipartisan “free trade” enablers in Congress have to pass TPP, if they can, in post-election lame duck session. TPP is also toxic to political careers, and only lame ducks and the recently-elected can vote for it.

Frank again on Trump:

Last week, I decided to watch several hours of Trump speeches for myself. I saw the man ramble and boast and threaten and even seem to gloat when protesters were ejected from the arenas in which he spoke. I was disgusted by these things, as I have been disgusted by Trump for 20 years. But I also noticed something surprising. In each of the speeches I watched, Trump spent a good part of his time talking about an entirely legitimate issue, one that could even be called left-wing.

Yes, Donald Trump talked about trade. In fact, to judge by how much time he spent talking about it, trade may be his single biggest concern – not white supremacy. Not even his plan to build a wall along the Mexican border, the issue that first won him political fame. He did it again during the debate on 3 March: asked about his political excommunication by Mitt Romney, he chose to pivot and talk about … trade.

It seems to obsess him: the destructive free-trade deals our leaders have made, the many companies that have moved their production facilities to other lands, the phone calls he will make to those companies’ CEOs in order to threaten them with steep tariffs unless they move back to the US.

On the subject more generally, Frank adds:

Trade is an issue that polarizes Americans by socio-economic status. To the professional class, which encompasses the vast majority of our media figures, economists, Washington officials and Democratic power brokers, what they call “free trade” is something so obviously good and noble it doesn’t require explanation or inquiry or even thought. Republican and Democratic leaders alike agree on this, and no amount of facts can move them from their Econ 101 dream.

To the remaining 80 or 90% of America, trade means something very different. There’s a video going around on the internet these days that shows a room full of workers at a Carrier air conditioning plant in Indiana being told by an officer of the company that the factory is being moved to Monterrey, Mexico and that they’re all going to lose their jobs.

As I watched it, I thought of all the arguments over trade that we’ve had in this country since the early 1990s, all the sweet words from our economists about the scientifically proven benevolence of free trade, all the ways in which our newspapers mock people who say that treaties like the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement allow companies to move jobs to Mexico.

Well, here is a video of a company moving its jobs to Mexico, courtesy of Nafta. This is what it looks like. The Carrier executive talks in that familiar and highly professional HR language about the need to “stay competitive” and “the extremely price-sensitive marketplace.” A worker shouts “Fuck you!” at the executive. The executive asks people to please be quiet so he can “share” his “information”. His information about all of them losing their jobs.

Frank goes to greater length, and again, please click through. But you get the idea. This is what Trump is speaking to, whether he means what he says or not, and this is what his voters are responding to, whether they like his racism or not. After all, haven’t you, at least once, voted for someone with qualities you dislike because of policies you do like?

Whose Fault Is This? Both Parties, But Especially the Democratic Elites

One final point. Frank takes on the issue of responsibility:

Trump’s words articulate the populist backlash against liberalism that has been building slowly for decades … Yet still we cannot bring ourselves to look the thing in the eyes. We cannot admit that we liberals bear some [or most] of the blame for its emergence, for the frustration of the working-class millions, for their blighted cities and their downward spiraling lives. So much easier to scold them for their twisted racist souls, to close our eyes to the obvious reality of which Trumpism is just a crude and ugly expression: that neoliberalism has well and truly failed.

I am certain, if this comes up in a general election debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, she could very likely get her clock cleaned; not certainly, but certainly very likely. First, she can only equivocate, and Trump will have none of it. (Trump: “Let me understand. You were for this before you were against it? So … will you be for it again next year? I’m just trying to understand.”)

Second, this is a change election, Trump is one of only two change candidates in the race, and Clinton is not the other one.

Here’s that Carrier Air Conditioning “we’re moving to Mexico” video that Frank mentioned above. Take a look, but prepare to feel some pain as you watch:

Are all of these people racists, the man walking past the camera at the 30-second mark, for example? Of course not. What these people do have in common is hopelessness, powerlessness, and creeping despair. If you were any of those people, would your response be different than theirs? And if you were any of these people, is your candidate Hillary Clinton?

My view: In a Trump–Sanders contest, Sanders gets at least half of these voters. In a Trump–Clinton contest, Trump gets them all.

Something for the “free”-trading leaders of the Democratic Party to consider as they move toward the convention and the 2016 fate that awaits them.

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  1. dan

    Until I heard The Donald, going on about Bernie being behind the protesters at his event – I fit this mold exactly. Hillary vs Clinton – I would have held my nose on the Trump issues as opposed to holding my nose on the Clinton issues once again for another 4 or more years. But after this protester saga – which I wonder if is something more likely to be organized within the establishment Republican party – particularly by the way the other Republican candidates jumped on it – I am not so sure anymore.

    1. fairleft

      By protesters are you talking about the Move-On-BLM-Democratic-Party regulars who are shouting down and shutting down Trump’s right to free speech, and his supporters and potential supporters right to hear what he has to say, at pretty much every venue he speaks at? “Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.” (Benjamin Franklin, 1737)

      1. timotheus

        From veteran reporter Marc Cooper in Los Angeles:

        “Some of my friends have written me to say that condoning disruption of a Trump rally, as I have done. is a violation of the First Amendment and denial of free speech to his campaign.

        “Really? Have we regressed that far politically? Have liberals gotten that stupid and meek?

        “My friends have it backward I fear. Your right to be rude, holler at, talk over, or demonstrate against a public figure, including while he or she is campaigning, is at the very core of the First Amendment.

        “When someone is arrested for this sort of thing it does NOT mean it is illegal. It means the cops are “maintaining order.” If you take it to court and contest a disruption charge (Section 408 of the penal code), you are likely to win acquittal unless your lawyer is a donkey.

        “Whether it is politically wise is a tactical decision that can be debated on a case by case basis. When in college, I was proud to help disrupt a couple of LBJ events to protest his mass murder policy in Vietnam. In 1970, nineteen of us were arrested on warrants three weeks after literally shouting down (jovially) the So Vietnamese Ambassador when he spoke in a closed auditorium on campus.. In the longest misdemeanor trial in LA County history ( 7 weeks), and despite a staggering 67 page long police report (that was 95% fictional), everybody was acquitted by an all white jury in the then conservative San Fernando Valley as the state could not make a case against OUR first amendment rights to be rude assholes. Period.

        “I would happily help disrupt a speech by, say, Cheney or Dubya for the blood on their hands. The same for the KKK or any other racial supremacist organization. Wouldn’t you?

        “Trump is somebody with whom I don’t just “disagree” with. I am appalled by his open call for legalization and expansion of torture and for his proposals of POLICIES based on ethnicity and religion. As far as I am concerned this makes him fair game for any type of peaceful disruption. He is an avowed anti-democratic bigot with whom I have no desire to “exchange views.”

        “N.B. Whatever you think of the protesters in Chicago the other night: 1) they were peaceful and non-violent if bothersome and noisy 2) They did nothing except hold up signs, snake dance and shout some slogans a full half hour before Trump was even scheduled to appear 3) Trump cancelled the rally because he knew he would be constantly booed and shouted at. Excellent.

        “Don’t be one of those lumps who, when asked by your grandkids or nieces and nephews, “what did you do when Trump was on the rise” has to answer, “Well, Jimmy I sat on my ass and pontificated against those protesters who were being rude to him.” Won’t cut it.”

        1. timbers

          Same idea different version –

          “Don’t be one of those lumps who, when asked by your grandkids or nieces and nephews, “what did you do when HILLARY was on the rise AND SLAUGHTERED AND DISRUPTED LIVES OF MILLIONS OF BROWNED SKINNED POEPLE” has to answer, “Well, Jimmy I sat on my ass and pontificated against those protesters who were being rude to HER.” Won’t cut it.”

          What’s worse – being racist and a mass murderer with words (Trump) or deeds (Hillary)?

        2. Damian

          you said: “When in college, I was proud to help disrupt”

          Sounds like you part of – Donald – Dirty Tricks – Segretti’s operation in 1968-71?

          Yes the Clinton Bush Establishment Party has adopted the same techniques

          The Clinton Machine not only has the solid black vote but in Chicago, and elsewhere can assemble Rent a Mob via their boy Mayor Emmanuel at will for use by ALL the Establishment

          I’m sure by now there is an APP for the IPhone to summon the Mob

          Those that support Bernie & Trump know that – the promotion of the race card by the Presstitutes is part of the game

          press on!

        3. Lexington

          Trump is somebody with whom I don’t just “disagree” with. I am appalled by his open call for legalization and expansion of torture and for his proposals of POLICIES based on ethnicity and religion. As far as I am concerned this makes him fair game for any type of peaceful disruption. He is an avowed anti-democratic bigot with whom I have no desire to “exchange views”.

          So applying the same standard, “veteran reporter” Marc Cooper would no doubt be perfectly ok with a bunch of white people wearing sheets showing up at a BLM rally in order to enact “peaceful disruption” by holding up signs, snake dancing, and shouting slogans.

          Somehow I very much doubt that.

          He actually says that the vileness of Trump’s views justify the tactics used against him, which is transparent hypocrisy, but a view widely endorsed on the left.

          He also says, in so many words, that he isn’t interested in dialogue. He’s only interested in proclaiming his own moral superiority. Because really when you come right down to it it’s not about Trump, or justice, or the future of the country, it’s about the only thing which is really important, which is Marc Cooper.

        4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          They would really help if they could interrupt the NPR every day.

          It seems they broadcast nothing but neolibearl propaganda from there.

          And let good lawyers get you off.

          But I think they should not interrupt the president. That’d be illegal.

          1. oh

            Right on! Yesterday NPR (National Propaganda Radio) had a NYT economist on “free trade”. When asked why we cannot impose tariffs, all he could say was 97% of the economists don’t think tariffs are good and that tariffs are only for developing countries.
            Really? There was not attempt to rebut these neo-liberal corporate BS. NPR made no attempt to bring in some of the economists who make a case for tariffs.

      2. tgs

        Apparently Trump is so evil, so dead set against all that is great and good in our country, that he forfeits his right to free speech. The ‘protestors’ seem to be invoking a new version of R2P in which they protect the public from speech and ideas they find offensive.

        I support Bernie, but he had better distance himself from these people who vow to disrupt Trump’s rallies. After all these kinds of tactics can used against him.

        1. RepubAnon

          The First Amendment is intended to stop government from censoring speech, absent a compelling need and narrowly-crafted restrictions (e.g.: banning child pornography).

          Private citizens shouting their political opponents down are not violating the First Amendment. (They can be violating other laws, just not the 1st Amendment). Example: country-western stations refusing to play Dixie Chick songs after a band member criticized Dubya were not violating the First Amendment rights of the Dixie Chicks.

        2. FrankZappasGuitar

          I don’t think a 30 second disruption, or the cancellation of one event, is evidence enough that he doesn’t currently enjoy his right to ”free speech.” Trump can broadcast all he wants across the various broadly distributed platforms that wiser minds (and hearts) like the ones we read here on nakedcapitalism and elsewhere never have access to (the big 6 TV, print, radio, online platforms, etc.)

          Also, seeing that money is speech in our transactional-or-bust culture, seems like he’ll be set for future free speech acquisitions. How much free speech do you really enjoy, tgs? Better wording: how much free speech can you buy, tgs?

      3. FluffytheObeseCat

        How do other people shouting at the Donald “shut down his right to free speech”? Are his vocal chords damaged? Is he unable to get out there and raise his voice in defense of his ideas….. or is he just too precious, and too willing to let his pissant minions break heads for him instead?

        Donnyboy says a lot of smart, accurate things about the chickenshit neoliberal coastal elite. He certainly knows them well enough to do so effectively; he’s been buying their votes for decades. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s a shitty little punk of a man, with no real respect for the average guy. It shows if that guy dares to stand up to him, or gets in his way.

        It’s intriguing that he chose to blame Sanders for the protestors. He’s got a genius nose for where real power lies and it suggests he sees a shift. He’d been laser focused on Clinton previously.

        1. steve in omaha

          pissant minions break heads”

          Would you please provide us a link to this bloodshed?

      4. Jamie

        You are right, fairleft! Shutting down opponent rallies and intimidating their politicians is a hallmark of fascism. The corporate media’s doublethink is astounding!

        Move-on is a joke. Remember the whole General Betray-us, Petraus, campaign of theirs?

        When Obama became president and promoted the general … silence.

    2. jgordon

      This was more reminiscent of WWE showman ship than genuine antagonism. I think it’ll end up a big positive for both Trump and Bernie, like a cage match between two wrestlers who have some dramatic and antagonistic history. You shouldn’t take everything, or anything, Trump says seriously. Trump is attractive because he’s a black box, whereas everyone running against him are known ne’er-do-wells. Or at least spineless, in Bernie’s case.

  2. Ed Walker

    It isn’t exactly trade that is the problem. It’s that US corporations take US know-how and US capital and even entire US factories and move them abroad to get cheap labor. That means that the workers of the US who created the wealth directly or indirectly get no share in it. Instead their wages are depressed because they are required to compete with wage serfs in far away lands. They are powerless to stop it because their legislatures are bought and paid for. The liberals and the conservatives agree with this. See Krugman on trade.

    Trump tells them to blame immigrants, but the reality is that the people responsible for this debacle are the US Elites, who are the only people who prosper in the system they contro.

    1. different clue

      But that’s the whole purpose of Free Trade Agreements. To protect the investor class in moving our factories and industries to the Slavery Havens of the world and then freely sell the product made there . . . back here. In order to work the differential costs arbitrage racket.

      When Trump tells them to blame Free Trade Agreements he is exactly NOT telling them to blame immigrants at that exact moment. And actually he isn’t even telling them to blame FTAs. He is telling them that he agrees with what they already know, that FTAs are designed to exterminate their jobs and industries. The difference is even pointed out in this very post itself.

      1. scott 2

        “Free Trade” isn’t free or fair. I had a customer that wanted to build a medical device and sell it both in the US and China. The Chinese government said that every component had to be made locally or face a large tariff, and the company had to give a complete data package to the local government, all the way down to circuit board artwork. Needless to say the knockoffs were ready the same time the legit product was, and I’ve seen neither on the market.

        1. Jerry Denim

          Bingo. And that’s another point that Trump has made as well. The low wage, mercantilist counties get plenty of carve outs, our trade negotiators don’t even ask because the point is to offshore industry. They get to keep high tariffs for pet industries plus VAT’s, American workers get the shaft. I haven’t expressly heard Trump say American workers lose because their leaders want them to lose, but I’ve heard him say the Chinese get “better deals” and “they’re taking our money like we’re a bunch of big stupid babies”. I found the last summation particularly catchy. I think Sanders could stand to sauce up his anti-free trade language a bit. This issue belongs to him, Trump is a phony stealing his populist thunder.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Hilary and Obama-bots are yelling at me that Donald or Bernie “would be a disaster”. No. We already have a disaster, with 90+% of the citizens of the nation going backwards financially.
            When you’re on a runaway train barreling towards a brick wall you don’t interview a new conductor, you grab the biggest wrench you can find and jam it into the gearbox.

            1. jgordon

              Good analogy! But I rather think that we’re going over a cliff rather than running into a wall. There’s going to be a looonngg and terrifying free fall before we finally hit the ground.

    2. Andrew Macpherson

      Absolutely, and for years I have stood against these free trade agreements because their outcome was so obvious, and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

      We are taxpayers are now less than 50% of the population, the other +50% are living off our taxes. We as a nation have shipped our manufacturing and the associated profits/banking offshore in an unbelievably shortsighted move that now requires an unsustainable and ever expanding pyramid of debt to maintain.

      People are waking up to this across the nation, and they are pissed. The rhetoric of ‘Change you can believe in’ has proven to be hollow, and left even more people disenfranchised by the bought and paid for Punch & Judy show in Washington.

      People who compare Trump to Hitler are missing the point, Hitler and his party were not a part of the old system, they were a fresh, new voice of positive change that promised to sweep aside the broken old system. We are still one or two election cycles away from that, but keep your eyes on the horizon.

      On a final note, since we are living in what the dictionary would define as a faschist oligarchy, I think the danger on the horizon is more likely to arise under the banner a National Socialist movement.

      1. amousie

        We are taxpayers are now less than 50% of the population, the other +50% are living off our taxes.

        These cultural whispers sound reasonable until one stops to wonder at the reality of what one constantly hears. As a starting point, might I suggest David Cay Johnston’s Free Lunch.

      2. Synoia

        We are taxpayers are now less than 50% of the population

        That is complete bullshit. Your are repeating a right wing meme to make yourself look like a victim. It is true of income taxes, but NOT true overall.

        Everybody pays property tax, including renters, sales tax, social security tax, and all the panoply of indirect taxes.

        What is unfair is the unequal distribution of income taxes, where passive income is favored over income from the sweat of one’s brow – wages.

        1. Andrew Macpherson

          I would say what is unfair is offshore corporate tax evasions.

          Also how can my point be complete bullshit if I am right on income tax? Your point on other taxes is well taken.

          Also please do not presume my politics. I am neither a republican or a democratic. From my humble perspective this divide and conquer pay-to-play political system has played itself out because it’s bankerster overlords have only one meme, to solve the worlds problems by creating ever more debt and holding the planet in debt servitude. The fable of the tower of Babylon certainly comes to mind, the ancient Assyrians obviously understood that there comes a point where debt cannot be paid by ever more debt.

    3. Minnie Mouse

      Do not forget that there is a “professional class” directly tied to manufacturing. When the factory floor is offshored, along with it goes the engineering, product and process development, R&D, and the entire knowledge base and hands on control of manufacturing. The econ/media/political/financial professional class treats the entire STEM/factory class like a bunch of no account geeks that can be arbitraged against the world anyhow. Both the Trumpers and the Neolibs corrupt the trade issue with cutesy group identity politics, when it ought to be only about a massive trade deficit and loss of physical capacity and knowledge loss.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        This is what people don’t get about China, they couldn’t care less about the pile of US Treasuries they have accumulated in order to keep their currency cheap because they got the good stuff: factories, supply chains, jobs, know-how, bridges, ports, airports, high-speed rail. And they chumped the “capitalists” at their own game, issuing more paper than they did to get their hands on all of that good stuff. When the paper goes “poof” we’ll see who can weather the storm better, the aerospace engineer in Lexington Kentucky now working at McDonalds or the village peasant in Wenzhou who now knows how to run a lathe.

      2. Synoia

        When the professional skill base goes, so goes marketing and finance.

        What remains is sales – who are the cannon fodder of business.

  3. Si

    Taleb has it right imho. A vote for Trump is a vote against an entrenched corrupt establishment. People may not like what Trump says, but they like even less what Clinton does not say in public but does in private to those who bankroll her. To characterise Trump’s only message as being about race hate employs the tactics of the politically correct – that is to attack any ideas or moral code which is not theirs.

    To those who are “offended” by Trump I say…. be offended by endless wars, the bribery and corruption of the political elite, by poverty caused by inequality (it got worse under Obama), by the use of taxpayers $ to bail out the banks, by the lack of the rule of law (for the elite), by the erosion of democracy and free speech, by the fact that the biggest asset the Fed Reserve holds is student loans.

    1. Dirk77

      Apart from reading this piece and listening to remarks from DC friends, I have not followed the election. It may probably be the only thing I read or watch. The info gleaned from reading Ferguson and Teachout has freed up my time to do other things. Given that, voting for Trump over Hilary is a no-brainer for the reasons stated.

    2. Ed Cloonan

      at some point—left democrats must deny democrats their votes or they will never be taken seriously—-wall street war monger vs racist hater is a false choice for the working class—we need more parties—the boss and the war machine have two coke-pepsi choices–i will vote for jill stein 2016

      1. hreik

        And I also am planning to withhold my democratic vote in the GE should HRC be the nominee. I, otoh will write in Bernie.

  4. Foy

    Yep good post. And I reckon The Donald will start using the phrase ‘Fair Trade’ more and more once he has the nomination which will be another piece of ammunition against Clinton if she gets the nomination. ‘Fair Trade’ is a relatively new/unused phrase for the masses after having ‘Free Trade’ drummed into them for all these years and it has huge potential to stick and resonate.

    It would be interesting to see Sanders vs Trump debate on this topic since they are almost on the same side on this one, that would be some good viewing after 30+ years of Free Trade rubbish. I can see the elites choking on their cornflakes and the coffee splurting out of their mouths already.

    1. Tony S

      Trump’s starting to use “smart trade” in lieu of “free trade”, which is excellent re-framing.

      The word “fair”, in most contexts, sounds too squishy-liberal for working-class people, I’ve found.

      I was at a local Dem political event yesterday. There was a forum on the effect Trump would have on Democratic prospects this fall. One of the panelists was talking about bringing working-class voters (Reagan Democrats) back to the party. A fine pursuit indeed, but unfortunately time ran out before I was able to ask my question — “How, exactly, are we going to get these white working-class voters back when the Democratic leadership very loudly and publicly pursues efforts like the TPP?'”

      The vibe there was that “Trump’s appeal is due to racism”. They really think this will be a boon to Hillary.

      Unless Sanders pulls off a miracle, November’s going to be a bloodbath…

      1. oho

        “Unless Sanders pulls off a miracle, November’s going to be a bloodbath…”

        pffff, how can you, a lowly citizen in the trenches among ordinary people, know what’s going on?

        haven’t you read the Washington Post or the London-based bookie odds? Hillary’s going win 600 electoral votes!

        1. Tony S

          Been awhile since I took Jeff Bezos’ blog the Washington Post seriously. But apparently the Dem misleadership thinks it’s an authoritative source.

          Getting to say “I told you so” is cold comfort indeed in the face of the horrors of a Trump presidency. Just the prospect of Chris Christie as AG will send this country into a fascist spiral unseen since Germany in the 1930’s….

          1. Synoia

            Oh, and the alternatives will usher in paradise?

            You seem to overlook the checks and balances built into the tripartite form of US Government.

            1. jgordon

              Checks and balances. You mean like where the Bill of Rights says that the government is not allowed to spy on people without probably cause and a warrant? This idea of checks and balances doesn’t seem to have much, if any, relevance to the current system.

            2. Massinissa

              I have to agree with Jgordon. Have these ‘checks and balances’ been doing much in the last 30 years, because I havnt seen them and they don’t appear to have stopped any of the unconstitutional things the last three presidencies have let loose upon the nation.

    2. Jerry Denim

      “It would be interesting to see Sanders vs Trump debate on this topic since they are almost on the same side on this one…”

      Yeah, with one big difference, Sanders has a long record of fighting free trade deals and Donald Trump just decided to pay lip service to the topic when someone advised him it could be a winning campaign platform. Trump has no credibility as a billionaire who has never held elected office. He employs a army of low wage immigrant workers and hawks goods made in low-wage, free trade treaty countries.

      1. Foy

        Agreed Jerry, I didn’t phrase that sentence well at all, Sanders has all the credibility on this one, but it is where Trump’s policy is moving to. Smart Trade/Fair Trade is becoming his mantra.

  5. different clue

    Free Trade isn’t fair. Fair Trade isn’t free.

    Would that fit on a bumper sticker?

  6. Alan Smith

    Blaming Bernie for disrupting his rally is just good showmanship, and does nothing but strengthen both of their campaigns, better Trump than Hilary any day. Bernie is the only one who stands a chance against Trump, but if some how he isn’t the Democratic candidate I’m most definitely voting for Trump.
    If god forbid it is Hilary vs. Cruz, I’m immigrating to Andorra or some place.

  7. vegeholic

    No one likes bashing the elites more than I do, and their slowly twisting in the wind on this challenge to the “free trade” agenda seems richly deserved. But I would like to bring up an aspect of this problem where we may all be a little more complicit than we care to admit. When you go to the hardware store and there is an American made wrench for $35 and a Chinese import for $10 (and they look about the same), which one do you buy? Does your behavior encourage the fair traders or the free traders? Is there a disconnect between your idealistic rhetoric and your behavior? The same dilemma exists for many products. Everyone who is pontificating on this issue needs to share with us their personal approach to balancing these conflicting priorities in their daily life, not in some abstract fantasy. I suspect there are many who would like to have it both ways, to have the nation move toward fair trade, but secretly have cheap imported goods for their personal consumption. Please convince me that my cynicism is not justified.

    1. fairleft

      Idealistic rhetoric should be connected to the reality that your decisions while shopping are apolitical unless part of an organized movement with a reasonable chance of success. (See the U.S. grapes boycott in the 1970s, for instance.) To make real your ideals, which should be the point of “idealistic rhetoric,” donate to or volunteer for Bernie, who advocates for and would try his best to enact fair trade policies.

    2. John

      Since the 1970’s (by this point, Japan and Germany had completely rebuilt themselves from the war), the world has suffered from a crisis of overproduction/under-utilization of capacity in manufacturing. Aside from further investment in productive capacity, the only other trick industrial corporations have up their sleeve is moving factories to where labor is cheaper. In fact, the only gains made by the developed countries since then have been from unsustainable bubbles (Japanese real estate in the 80’s, US stock market in the 90’s, US real estate in the 00’s, etc.), and these countries have clearly entered a period of secular stagnation that will last until there is a bout of destruction (ie a world war). Japan experienced it first and has had a quarter century of stagnation that shows no sign of abatement.

      More ‘nationalist’ economic policies will protect jobs at home but lead to higher consumer prices and for our industry to lose competitiveness. We can’t rely on the Latin American and African markets due to Chinese competition, either. Basically, we have to pick our poison, and I prefer a more nationalist model to the neoliberal one, because I’m fine with a lower GDP if it means lower unemployment. But we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t, and neither the Keynesians nor the conservatives have a solution.

    3. divadab

      I’ve been having this argument with my Economics grad student son. And your example of the side-by-side US-made v. Chinese made item very rarely happens in real life. What actually happens is that the product you used to buy 20 years ago was made in the USA, and now it is made in China. It’s not even unique to the USA – I have a 30-year-old Moulinex coffee grinder that was made in France. Moulinex now makes NOTHING in France.

      Yes stuff is now cheaper than it was 30 years ago – often even in nominal terms. But I didn’t get to “vote” in the way you describe other than rarely.

      1. vegeholic

        You are right that this choice rarely presents itself today in unambiguous terms in the retail world. Comforting sounding American brands are likely imported as well. Plus there are many devious ways to import components and assemble them locally. Twenty years ago it was another story. I was shocked reading a recent book about the Basset Furniture Company to learn the extent to which household furniture is now imported from China. But even though the choices appear ambiguous (by design!) there is still the question of whether you are supporting domestic manufacturing (read middle class wages) versus low cost foreign manufacturing. As suggested elsewhere, I would support a tariff regime to rectify all of this but I am not confused about how difficult that would be to get all of the stakeholders to go along.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        So you can get a cheaper Moulinex grinder but oops, your wages are now on par with a guy living in a hut with a dirt floor and no plumbing.
        And to answer the post below, the TPP will make “Made In America” content stickers illegal. Hey we’ve got billionaires trying to pay for the gold faucets at the New Zealand ranch…get with the program.

        1. TomD

          Government enforced country of origin stickers are already for meat products and possibly others. I believe this was one of the “victories” of Obama and congress. One has to wonder if they knew it would be overturned and just supported/voted for it to look good.

          It’s all pretty gross. C’mon IL and OH let’s go Bernie.

          1. Praedor

            Aha! But those labels are being jiggered by “free trade” deals to be meaningless. They play with what it means to be “made in USA” for instance. If the corporate HQ is in the US but the meat is grown in China and butchered in the US, then it becomes magically “beef from the USA”. An “American” car is getting jiggered so that most of its parts are made in Taiwan or China but the car is assembled here, boom! Magically becomes and “American” car.

            We want/demand the labels but then the free traders change what the definition of “made in ” is so the label becomes meaningless. OR they determine that “Made in” labels are an “unfair barrier to trade” and render labels verboten in an ISDS tribunal.

            1. TomD

              I missed a word in my post, those labels being enforced is already illegal. Right now a company can voluntarily use country of origin labeling, but it’s rather meaningless.

              I think the law that was overturned actually did enforce raised and slaughtered in the country I believe (not sure about post slaughter processing).

    4. Desertmer

      Vegeholic: Do you not understand? If we put the breaks on free trade deals and started implementing tariffs to protect our own industries the American made hammer would still cost a lot but gradually the quality would improve as well and the poorly made but cheap Chinese hammer would be quadruple the price of the American. American wages would increase to allow Americans to buy their home made hammers. Of course China et al would triple the prices of essential things we need from them but that’s ok. We would not all be wasting our money filling our homes and closets with cheap Chinese crap that would now be astronomically expensive, so we would have more money to wisely spend on the essentials we need to import and the higher cost of American made goods.
      Trade protection will lift the working class out of the morass they are in with higher wages and bennies and secure jobs. And decrapify middle class and upper middle class ‘keep up wth the jones’ ‘ homes as a bonus … Instead of 17 sets of 600 thread count sheets they would have 2 sets of 250 thread count made in America of American grown cotton by people making a living wage….
      I would never vote for that race/ethnicity baiting carnival barker Trump but he is spot on regarding trade. As is Sanders for whom I plan on voting.

    5. Victoria

      My answer to this dilemma is that I buy tools and even farm equipment (tractors, etc) at garage sales and auctions because they are made with solid, durable American steel and still working even 50-60 years later. The bad-quality steel produced first in Japan and now in China isn’t remotely comparable to that produced in America a few decades ago. Everything made with it breaks. I can’t find a high-quality tool for any price on big box shelves, so I’d rather spend time hunting for vintage ones than pay a penny for tools that don’t stand up to heavy use. My point is that Americans only choose to spend $10 for a tool that might work for a couple of years because they have been starved of income for so long that they can no longer afford to choose a $35 tool that would last a lifetime. So pay us more so that we can get back to having stuff that is actually worth the money we spend on it.

      1. Norb

        The well made tools are never coming back as long as we have the capitalist system of production. There will be 2 markets- one for the wealthy elite who can afford essentially custom made products and the rest of us mopes confined to the mass market designed to support the capitalist system itself. Cheep products branded and marketed for obsolescence. Repeat cycle until environmental exhaustion and collapse.

        If you demand lasting quality- as in the principle of using a product until it has worn out or no longer repairable- the bridge to crapification was crossed many years ago. The capitalist system requires everything designed for obsolescence- the cheeper the better. The capitalist system requires that EVERYTHING must be subject to rent. Cheep tools are just another form of efficient rent seeking.

        Looking back to the good old days only reveals capitalism in a less refined form. Maybe more competition forced manufactures to produce better products. Or the quaint notion of quality still held some force in decision making. The human desire to produce something of meaning and quality. The logic of capitalism is profit for its own sake- everything else be dammed.

        Asking a capitalist to pay workers more in order to afford their products is not in the calculation. Making you pay more for cheeper products is what they are about. Think about that and let it sink in. A sane person refuses to accept that logic. It is so demented you tend to not believe your own eyes, ears, and experience. Say it an’t so! Enter branding and marketing to set you back on the right path.

        I agree and support your methods though- demanding quality and integrity is one way to slow the decline in our society. Even knowing and teaching fellow citizens what quality is- is an accomplishment in itself. Finding the remnants of quality products is one path to take until more people can be convinced of the need to change the current ethos. Forcing companies to assume the responsibility for the disposal of their used products is one externality that could be brought back to manufactures. This would compel them to make better products more than relying a some sort of pay scheme.

        We are in a time in history where the whole notion of ownership is being redefined. If we keep the capitalist system of production, as in private ownership of the means of production, then the trend of renting products instead of personally owning them will continue. As large corporations take control of an ever greater portion of production, more profit will arise from converting products to rent than to own. If a company can rent you a product, and has no legal responsibility for its eventual disposal, then the social cost of disposal is successfully passed onto the consumer. This is a bad deal when the consumer has little say in its manufacture. Citizens are having less say in the means and quality of products produced. With less income, and fewer purchasing choice- i.e. competition between manufactures- the power to determine outcomes is greatly reduced. In a world of monopolies, this trend will reach 0.

        Right now we have the illusion of choice.

        Without a strong government serving the needs of the nations people, we are at the mercy of the rent seekers. I don’t know of one corporation that acts in the interest of the common good. Corporations colluding with government power to mandate crappy products on a weakened citizenry pretty much sums up the current state of the capitalist experiment.

    6. Bubba_Gump

      I absolutely buy the American-made product. As a general rule I will complain to a store’s management if all I can find are Chinese-made merchandise, and I’ll avoid such a store in the future. For example, I don’t shop and Wal-mart, and I don’t shop at Harbor Freight. Even REI gets my complaints now because so much of their products are made in China — yeah, I know they say they have strict health, safety, and quality standards for their off-shore factories but that’s irrelevant to the issue.

      What really pisses me off is when the American-made product is as crappy or crappier than the offshore product. American companies don’t seem to understand that while they can’t compete on price they certainly can compete on quality. Look to Germany for an example of how that works well.

      The saddest thing to me is now visiting the hardware stores and street retail shops in Europe and finding more and more offshored goods. In Cologne last year we went to the local equivalent of the Home Depot so I could check out the good German-made hand tools. There weren’t any. They are following the same path as we are, to their detriment.

    7. andyb

      The Chinese wrench breaks after 2-3 uses; the American-made one lasts forever. When my mother dies, I inherited her Farberware percolator which she had owned for 20 years. It lasted for another 20 years until it finally gave out. I went to BB&B to replace it; and then again and again. 3 replacements in 3 years; Farberware had outsourced to China. There are no US made percolators now on the market..

      1. Lambert Strether

        Same with me. My electric coffee grinder is the one my father bought, in France, in 1965. I thought I’d try to get modern and brought a Braun, or something. It died in a year.

        1. sgt_doom

          I really have to recommend the Cuisinart percolator, though, not pushing French-made but it is the best percolator out there. (Am anti-French since I finally ascertained that the most likely assassins of President Kennedy were Jean Souetre, Lucien Conein and Moise Maschkivitzan (Belgian).

    8. Dave

      I’m handy. Give me a $10 wrench as oppose to a $35 wrench and that frees up $25 of capital for me to do more projects. I have created tremendous finish product value around my home with that $10 wrench and would do likewise if I owned my own business. Give my wife a $10 wrench and she wouldn’t have a clue what to do with it. She’d be better off with a society selling a $35 wrench. The benefits of the $10 wrench are shared unequally. If your motivated and acquire the know-how then the $10 wrench adds to your standard of living. If working with a wrench holds no interest for you then you’ll find yourself falling further behind.

      Now turn the question around to a service like subscribing to satellite dish service. If unfair trade puts pressure on wages and society finds itself with all the benefits of this aggregating into the hands of a few, the many will eventually economize on services. You see this today with the cut-the-cord movement. There’s no opportunity for the wealthy to over consume this service to make up for this industries economic loss by people cutting-the-cord. And if people are cutting-the-cord to just maintain their standard of living then there’s no opportunity for economic gain like there is with a $10 wrench used to make finished products.

      1. Synoia

        The $10 wrench break in a week, then you decide to buy the $35 wrench.

        You have now increased your cost by $10 – have you learned that cheap tools are not cheap?

    9. so

      Maybe you could buy the best quality and share it with others. If I had this idea when I lost my woodworking business I might have been able to save it.

    10. tegnost

      yes, painting for a family member who wanted me to go to the local paint store, get a sample their designer friend suggested, then take that sample to HD and have them copy it. I tried in a more gentle fashion to slowly explain pbs style that the craft paint store invested in creating the color and it’s actually wrong to take their product to HD and let them copy it, as well as enter the recipe in the HD product offering (they put all formulas in the computer as people bring them in). I made the point that it’s only a small amount more, they’re still thinking about it, but i think not saving a couple of dollars is akin to stripping their skin off with a razor blade, so I’m sure now it’s do i want to go get the paint and save a couple of dollars but spend time, or send tegnost (unpaid of course) to the store to get it for us when he will go to the closer more expensive place….first world problems…meant to be a reply to vegeholic.

    11. FluffytheObeseCat

      I go to the garage sale to buy the American made wrench. It’s the only way now to get one made in USA. (Does anyone remember now how long its been since Snap-on broke their made in USA pledge? They were the last big, hi quality name brand to leave the US).

      Better quality, better grade of steel. Just hard to find because the old tool trade has been busy for years.

      One of the biggest problems with both Trump’s and Sanders plans to bring employment back to the US is that we may well have lost too much knowledge, skills and productive capacity to do it.

    12. Jerry Denim

      You make a good point, but if the US had a fair tariff system to cancel out the unfair advantages of countries with no environmental or labor standards then such altruistic economic choices wouldn’t be required by American citizens/consumers. As others have pointed out the choice between buy American vs. other often no longer exists. The US has lost much of its capacity to manufactor even when a company would prefer to do so domestically. When I can afford it, and when I have the chance, I always endeavor to buy ‘made in the USA’. Even better I look for “Union made in the USA” label. Short of that I try to buy from a country that provides workers with fair wages and benefits . In a consumer society it’s very important that we vote with our wallets whenever we can. Voting with your mouth and feet is even better. I have been phone banking for Sanders from home and next Monday I am traveling to Phoenix help the local campaign office with the primary there. Phone canvassing for Sanders is really easy and a big help to the campaign if any readers here are looking for a flexible, no-commitment way to get involved. It’s great!

    13. sgt_doom

      Negative, complicit would be voting for a Bush or a Clinton.

      Anti-complicit would be voting for either economic nationalist Bernie, or economic nationalist Trump!

    14. sid_finster

      *if* there is an American-made wrench, and *if* you make enough to afford a $35 wrench.

  8. Carla

    Typo: Under the following header:

    “Trade and Jobs Key to Victory for Bernie Sanders”

    I think the first sentence should begin:

    NO Democratic presidential candidate had campaigned in Traverse City, Mich., in decades until Senator Bernie Sanders pulled up

    1. Gaius Publius

      Thanks, Carla. I can’t edit this text, but it’s now fixed at the source. Appreciate the heads up.


  9. divadab

    IN classical economic terms, free trade should benefit all parties. And in general that has been true – do you doubt that in strictly material terms we are better off in aggregate than we were 30 years ago?

    However, here’s a question from a non-economist – in GDP accounting, consider this simple example:
    1) US-made product – wholesale price $7. Retail price $12. GDP retail contrib = $5
    2) Foreign product – wholesale price $6 Retail price $12. GDP retail contrib = $6

    i.e. – profits on foreign products are accounted for as equivalent to profits on domestic products. SO in this case, the GDP stats will show an uptick – even though US workers who used to make this item are no longer employed.

    It seems to me that the first loyalty of a patriot is to his fellow countrymen. But if our dominant ethos, our State religion of neo-liberal economics has no way to express this, rather the opposite, who is it encouraging are our elites to serve but themselves and whichever foreigner will work for the least? Look – GDP is rising. You may only be able to get a McJob, but it’s the iron law of neo-liberal economics.

    I’m having trouble making this argument in economic terms and so – what do you-all think?

      1. sgt_doom

        Since various studies (Rutgers, the other guys who track withholding tax, etc.) strongly suggest that only one-third of all claimed new jobs can be verified, and if they can’t be verified it is because they don’t exist, which means we are still in a jobless recovery, which validates those several Federal Reserve Banks who have independently of Janice Yellen claimed we are in a recession.

  10. casino implosion

    I keep my preferred voting order (Sanders>Trump>Clinton>Cruz) to myself because in my circle, a vote for Trump over a Democrat is the equivalent of an Aryan Nations chest tattoo. Even getting into a discussion about how opposing libertarian economics is the best possible thing one could do for minorities in this nation, is impossible with “these people” (ie my own friends and fam.)

    Voted Obama 2008, Stein 2012. OWS plankholder, union construction worker.

    1. Jack Heape

      Good post. There is an article in the Guardian today about “closet” Bernie supporters voting for Trump if Hillary gets the nomination.

    2. Bkboy

      I am a bankruptcy attorney and in the past have been a reliable supporter of neoliberal ideas. Voted twice for Obama but now have the exact same preferences as you do (Sanders>Trump>Clinton>Cruz). I have concluded that there is really only one political party for the elite (Dems and Republicans all support free trade, protection and expansion of large corporate power through tax subsidies, regulation of small business competitors, and federal spending for Big Ag, Big Pharma and the MIC). The political establishment of both “parties” give us a “choice” of candidates with different views of social issues (welfare vs warfare, choice vs life, black lives vs all lives, etc) and the media limits its coverage to mostly the social issues, which creates but a simulacrum of democratic choice.

  11. landline

    “Free Trade” is capitalist speak for free movement of capital and its products.

    Want real freedom? Open up all (arbitrary) borders and allow free movement of people as well.

    The capitalists and their paid political lapdogs don’t want that because it exposes the economic system for what it really is–exploitation of people and the earth–and will put so much pressure on themselves that their fantasy world will almost immediately collapse.

    For a real time example, look at Europe. For once, the externalities (for want of a better term) of capitalist war destruction of the Middle East are being paid by some of the countries whose leaders push for these homocidal policies.

    And one of the people most responsible, Hillary Clinton, is hypocritically preaching non-violence. She came, she saw, she killed.

    1. Andrew Macpherson

      If the establishment picks Hilary and Trump somehow gets nominated the presidential debates will be fascinating. Will they highlight her endless policy blunders and reveal her as a pawn of the powerbroker mafia? (CFR/Trilateral Commission/Bilderberg etc). I doubt it as Trump and Bill are buddies, they play golf, he allegedly even encouraged Trump to run.

  12. MartyH

    Hertz downsized its IT department (check from yesterday) by contracting with IBM India to replace US workers. So IBM India applied for H1-B visas that same day to fill the openings? Of course. And the US economy watches US Personal Income moved to “an Indian Firm” … off-shore as in Nicholas Shaxon’s definitions. The US is the biggest “off shore” for US firms?

    I find Shaxon, our own Michael Hudson, and Paul Craig Roberts among the few “Serious People” who look past the flag waving of “Free Trade” and finger off-shoring, financialization, and debt-peonage as the real issues.

    1. timbers

      If you go to any of the State Street offices in Quincy or Boston, it’s like you’re in Little India. There are so many Indians in the Boston area they inhabit entire apartment complexes in Quincy and other communities. The remaining jobs are mostly temporary contract assignments and higher management. BONY is doing the same but is a bit behind the curve compared to State Street. Brown Brothers fired it’s IT team and moved it to Poland. Word is India is now passe, Poland is the new hot spot for financial firms to move jobs to.

      The corporate ethics State Street brags about says it will be a good member of the community in which it exists. How is replacing local community American workers in Quincy with lower cost foreign labor from India being a good member of the community in which you live?

      1. sgt_doom

        Very, very interesting that commenter, timbers, should mention State Street as the top four investment firms which own the majority of major corporations in North America and Europe are the Vanguard Group, BlackRock, State Street and Fidelity.

        Very interesting . . . .

    2. Damian

      The promoted idea is that trade within the Trump supporters is about blue collar and racism – is myopic.

      How does white collar labor demand, beyond the effects of H1b unlimited with the Obama TPP, end up with continuation of Free Trade as currently defined?

      Lawyers requires transaction velocity whether via contracts or litigation for business. Real Estate is moving today on hyper basis based upon ZIRP which creates transactions but sooner or later that runs out. They need businesses to demand their services – where are they coming from?

      If the discretionary income is continuously leaking out of the system all white collar will be affected as well – Doctors need people with medical insurance – retail needs consumers – intermediate level service business needs other businesses for volume. Owners of all kinds and white collar will all be in trouble shortly.

      1. sgt_doom

        The neoliberal/neocon mantra is fundamentally the same (regardless of phraseology):

        “We support multiculturalism, diversity and offshoring as many American jobs as possible, and if you don’t agree with us you are a nasty racist.”

        “Any remaining jobs we can’t offshore, we will import foreign visa workers to replace you — and if you don’t agree with us you are a nasty racist.”

        No I wonder why that resonates with fewer and fewer voters today — could it have something to do with the facts that food stamp card usage has grown dramatically, and that only one-third of all those so-called new jobs created can be verified as actually existing?

    3. sgt_doom

      Recommended reading:

      Sold Out, by Michelle Malkin and John Miano

      Wealth, Power, and the Crisis of Laissez Faire Capitalism, by Donald Gibson

      Dark Money, by Jane Mayer

      The Devil’s Chessboard, by David Talbot

      Killing the Host, by Michael Hudson

  13. Norb

    The Carrier video captures everything we are facing today as a society. As workers doing our best to support our families, the only sane and rational response should be anger and outrage! Hell yes- Fuck YOU!

    The corporate and business propaganda that people must deal with daily is reaching a breaking point. Soothing language used by the HR person delivering devastating information is both condescending and insincere. The frustration these workers feel is brought about by their following the rules of the game and still loosing. Working hard, considering the interests of the company without added compensation, believing that we are “all in this together” propaganda, and believing in the myth of the American Dream. The rational of we must be competitive is another phrase which meaning depends on the perspective from which it is viewed. It means one thing to an owner and investor and completely another to a worker disenfranchised from actual ownership of the company. The foundation of the neoliberal world rests on the compliance of workers to believe and support the trickle down myth of corporate domination.

    Trump acknowledges this frustration and extends the myth by stating he is a businessman who understands the process and will make better deals for the workers. I haven’t followed his speeches closely so I don’t know if he has clearly and directly stated that idea in those terms or just implies that policy. Either way, if Trump is elected, he will have to deliver in a concrete way on jobs and general prosperity. In a way, this is a positive outcome because the confrontation between unrestrained greed and a more just society will be brought to the forefront of policy discussion. Someone will have to deliver jobs and financial security. If jobs don’t materialize, the future will be rough indeed. Without job creation actually effecting millions of people, you will be left with directing the anger towards weaker marginalized groups. This will only bring suffering and chaos. An alternative is directing the narrative towards the actual perpetrators- corporate elite rigging the social system to benefit only their interests.

    Liberalism has failed because its passive elements have dominated the ideology for decades. Cooperation and non-violence have morphed into a passivity not able to defend ANYTHING. This language of passivity has been cooped by the business elite for their own selfish ends in order to divide and weaken dissent. Clinton is the embodiment of this failure when viewed from the bottom up. Only those trapped by fear fail to see the consequences her nomination and election represents. It represents the slow death of the working class and a decent into poverty and hardship. It represents a social view that rejects truth-seaking and rewards personal self-interest over the common good.

    Those committed to the ideals of the enlightenment need to take this historical moment to direct the energy of the people toward the common good. This is the real ideological battle. The triumph of individual self interest over the belief in a common public space and responsibility. We are left with a choice between a genuine belief in the nobility and perfectibility of humankind or a world of parasites cynically exploiting the human desire for community in order to satisfy self-interested greed.

    Punching someone in the face gives you a momentary feeling of agency and power- especially if the person you are beating is weaker. This is the diversion- the divide and conquer tactic. Challenging corporate power is the true confrontation and we must steel ourselves for the battles ahead with a broad coalition of forces and personal commitment.

    It is exhausting trying to convince fellow citizens that no, cheep products are not always a benefit to you, and no, that 2 dollar Uber ride you scored today on the way to work is not a good thing. Leadership begins with having the vision of a better world- or a vision to defend a culture or way of life that is meaningful. The corporate vision of the world is proving both destructive and meaningless hence the desperation we see all around us.

    1. TomD

      I found the video impossible to watch in one sitting. I had to keep pausing it and taking breaks.

      “Please quiet down” so I can tell you how screwed you are.

  14. Bas

    I do remember when goods were made to last and that was part of the marketing. I also remember when it changed to built to break, or how will you sell more. The marketing strategy became more about the excitement of new stuff all the time. Buy a car every couple of years, move house more often, shiny, sparkling new new new, keep up with your neighbors, show them up with your latest model whatever. More, new features you will never use. “Loaded” stuff.
    This always made me nervous. I have been buying from consignment stores for decades, yard sales, etc. I plant myself in a home I like, and calls from RE agents trying to make business for themselves do not move me. My Mother told me that if everyone was like me, the U.S. economy would fall apart. I am not contributing to the landfills.

    1. Paul Tioxon

      Yeah, and ebay, a quiet steady business in old, used stuff, collectible stuff. Talk about keeping landfills less full. Old stereo equipment, albums, even Polaroids are making a comeback. You can get film for the old working cameras, which I still have, and my grand daughter flips for the instant pics! Some of the old receivers go head to head with brand new state of the art high end equipment and win hands down. Some things we did not make as well as the Japanese, but our factories did not close down because of them and the Big Three moving to Yokahama for cheaper labor. The Japanese came here and built state of the art factories and gave American workers jobs. The auto workers who used to smash Japanese cars wound up working right here in America for them. Even the Germans set up shop here.

      I see Trump always praise himself and his deal making and how he would stop giving away the store to the Chinese and the Mexicans. He blamed the idiotic American politicians for being out maneuvered by both! Their politicians and business interests outfoxed the dopes in Washington with the trade deals, where they get everything and we get nothing. His art of the deal would end that. He does not say they are inferior to us, but that our leaders just are incompetent, stupid and uncaring and further, they feel they can get away without any consequences. Well, he is the consequence, he calls what is going on a movement, and he barnstorming across the US. He is talking about a political revolution in city after city, and people are responding to that. Run away factories is not something he has done to Americans, when he puts his name on a casino or tower, that is something built here and used by America.

      The economic and political message is clear, America is not great in the way it used to employ people and provide routines, certainties, the kind that allowed for plans that let you get married, have kids and take on a mortgage for 30 years, because you knew you could confidently provide for your family without disruptions like downsizings, plants closing and moving away, and loss of income that goes with it.

      The people who go there are not politically oppressed the way Black Lives Matter protestors are oppressed, they have a different set of grievances, but these grievances hold national leadership responsible for the downgraded middle class, Black people are not being scapegoated as taking jobs, welfare or any of that usual crap. But when they do show up to protest and represent their set of issues, Trump, ego maniac that he is, does not want to be interrupted and if he can’t fire people, he can stupidly ask for them to be punched in the face. He not only correctly identifies what is really bothering his supporters he also gives them permission to act out on somebody, when you’re not with the ones you want to punch, punch the ones you’re with!!
      But that is not the core message. Betrayal, the stab in back by the leadership of America is to blame and that is a deep well to draw from.

  15. Jack Heape

    Good post Gaius Publius. Particularly your points about failed neo-liberalism and how liberals according to Frank should blame themselves, ” It’s easier for liberals to blame Trump voters for racism than to blame themselves for the job-loss and pain of the working class.” There is an article today in Salon that is an excerpt by Thomas Frank as well about “Bill Clinton’s odious Presidency”. The excerpt talks a good deal about trade, specifically NAFTA, and how the promised increase of 200,000 jobs for America actually was a lost of over 700,000 jobs by 2010. Hillary was a big supporter of NAFTA. I think Bernie should expand on how this treaty failed us. If he doesn’t, and loses the nomination, then Trump certainly will to good effect. Along with all of the other failed policies of the both the Clintons.

  16. SM

    Excellent article. And for those liberals who want to flame me – no, I am not a Conservative or Republican nor a Trump supporter.

    Trump also has the most reasonable position on Cuba (when all the others were falling over themselves to retract the deal stuck by Obama), on Israel-Palestine (he wants to negotiate a good deal) and on other matters relating to foreign policy — his mantra is that he is going to negotiate better — for the white middle class. Incidentally, this is what Obama promised and failed to deliver. And Obama failed to deliver not because of Republican congress but because he lied to the American people – he had no intention of delivering a good deal to the middle class. This is the untold story of Obama’s failure.

    The establishment media (corporate media) and I am sorry to say all the tech executives are part of this cabal. As a tech entrepreneur, I am ashamed at Bezos (Washington Post) shamelessly trashing Bernie and supporting Hillary, ashamed at Tim Cook, Larry Page and others flying to the Republican party to figure out how to defeat Trump. All these guys who make money building products that rely on the Internet — that should fosters freedom of expression and democratize access to information — are now engaging in misleading the masses and obfuscating the truth.

    1. tegnost

      the democrat elite generally disfavored on this site are not liberal, liberal indeed may be a dead term because who does it apply to? I understand the shell shock, however, because I get flamed by the hillarites to the point that the picture in links today resembles me when I get invited to a family gathering (they don’t really want me there, anyway)…escaping soon…what’s interesting to me is that you have policy stances by trump, and I can give you policy stances of sanders, but hillary has no positions on anything and this is a major weakness for democrat elites and they become very hostile and angry when questioned about what hillary stands for. The sea island meet up definitely exposes that the duopoly is actually a monopoly, and hillary is their chosen one.

      1. hreik

        ^^^ This ^^^ Slick Willie never stood for anything either. I voted for him in 1992, but not “96. Couldn’t bring myself to do it. He had no ‘center’, no set core of beliefs. Ditto $hillary. I know what Sanders believes. And I know his policy positions.

        My family too, wants to shame me into voting for her in the GE. I cannot do it. And they wouldn’t / didn’t support Bernie in the primary, so this dog won’t hunt. I’m done w the democratic party after I cast my primary vote next month

    2. oh

      I wouldn’t believe any election time rhetoric from Trump or any other person running for office. After getting burned by broken promises, one cannot keep comparing these jokers with each other based on what they say. If they have a record, that usually indicates what they’ll do.

  17. Jess

    Boy, if there was ever a subhead or a lede line that summed up both an article and the fact it is built around, this is it.

  18. TPP Critic

    I am perplexed over Obama’s support for the TPP. Obama has been outspoken about supporting the TPP in spite of the fact that many troubling issues have been brought up that would suggest the TPP should be scrapped and to start over. Obama has even criticized Elizabeth Warren over her comments on the negative ramifications of the TPP. So why does Obama support this so strongly? Is it possible that Obama has not read the details of the TPP documents? Or, is it possible that Michael Froman has not fully informed, or has miss-represented, the TPP to Obama?
    I have spent some time reading the sections of the TPP document that pertain to the Investor State Dispute Settlement System (ISDS). I came away that the biggest benefactor (no surprise) is US Corporations. For example, a US corporation could open a factory in a member country and benefit from the low cost labor, lax environmental regulations, lower taxes. However the biggest benefit of all is the ISDS provision that can protect the ‘investor’ from any new provisions or regulations that the host country would try to enact. For example, if workers began to demonstrate or riot for higher wages, or should a country enact a minimum wage, an ISDS claim can be made to nullify the wage hike by either thwarting it entirely or putting a burden on the host government to make up the difference in increased wages into perpetuity. It appears to me that the TPP only accelerates the race to the bottom. So why should Obama support this?
    I read an article a while back that provided a glimpse of Obama’s plans for his life post-POTUS. The article described Obama objective to create a large fund similar to the Clinton’s “Global Initiative Fund”. The article went on to describe that Obama has engaged an someone to lay the groundwork and create the fund. But where would the money come from? Could it (would it) come from large contributions from US Corporations for supporting and passing TPP?

    1. sgt_doom

      I am perplexed over Obama’s support for the TPP

      Sorry, dood, but me thinks you are the one who hasn’t bothered to read much lately.

      The compromiser-in-chief has given up every single thing to the republicons and Wall Street — end of story.

      One has to applaud his consistency — Bill Clinton, Barack Obama (and hopefully not HRC) have been the best presidents the r-cons and Wall Street have ever had!

      1. Paul Tioxon

        “…the best presidents the r-cons and Wall Street have ever had!”

        Hey, that’s been my line since the 1990s!!

  19. Keith

    The US has forgotten its own history.

    The US is a protectionist success story.

    Free trade sounds good doesn’t it?

    Free trade actually stops other nations catching up with more advanced nations.

    How did the US become the super-power it is today?

    In the 18th and 19th century the UK was the workshop of the world and the home of the industrial revolution.

    How did the US and other Western European nations catch up with the UK’s more advanced factories, technology and cheaper products?

    Was free trade the answer?
    No. Tariffs were the order of the day.

    Tariffs made cheap UK products more expensive in the US and Western Europe allowing them to catch up on the UK’s industrial advances.

    Eventually, the US over-took the UK as the workshop of the world, thanks to tariffs.

    The US is a protectionist success story.

    In a free trade world, the UK, being the home of the industrial revolution, would have maintained its advantage forever.

    Luckily someone from the UK is here to remind you of your own history.

    1. Titus Pullo

      Don’t forget the importance of the Homestead Act (signed by Lincoln in 1862) which was an incredibly socialist piece of legislation (unless you were Native American, of course). You need land and other kinds of capital reform to go hand in hand with protectionism. Otherwise you’ll wind up with a mercantilistic sclerosis that can take centuries to overcome.

      Of course, this analysis may be moot in a few years if the Google AI is as generic as is being claimed.

      1. Synoia

        Of course, this analysis may be moot in a few years if the Google AI is as generic as is being claimed.

        Those robots had better discover how to survive without the backing of a technological civilization. We humans can, and will regress (in diminished numbers) when climate change really bites (Sea Level rise vs Coastal Infrastructure).

        I’m betting on the human race to survive Climate Change. I would not bet on robots surviving as the robot projection requires a linear projection of our current civilization. Human procreation is easy (ask any teenager how easy), Robot procreation is dependent on very expensive factories, and I suspect, lacks the pleasurable results of human procreation.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          (To add Synoia’s 5:10 pm comment)

          Really smart robots would make humans slaves to serve their needs.

          Our only hope is that they stay dumb.

          But humans (or some) like them smart, with intelligence…

  20. Minnie Mouse

    You can still find some “made in USA” goods at Goodwill Industries, which appears to be the fastest growing retailer in the Twin Cities area. I bought towels, sheets, and coats with the labels still on them and in next to new condition too. They were “made in USA” not so long ago.

  21. sgt_doom

    I have overhead a tremendous number of American citizens lately, predominantly white and black, but other groups as well, and they just sound stupider and stupider!

    So allow humble me to simplify:

    Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are economic nationalists — they have both stated they are against the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership — the 30 chapters structured to destroy all workers’ rights regardless of country).

    There, that’s not that difficult, is it? The most vile and evil candidates are Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ted Cruz! They suck up to the Global Banking Cartel.

    Hillary supports the murders of union organizers and labor organizers (certainly she does in Honduras and Ukraine, etc.), and the overthrow of foreign democratic governments, i.e., “free trade imperialism”!

    Ted Cruz — ditto!

    Bernie or the Trumpster — both economic nationalists!

  22. Felix_47

    As a baby boomer, and now professional, who spent years as a Teamster “book man” before and during college and graduate school I note that Yves made a comment that must be emphasized. The free trade agreements had little effect on the professional class, meaning attorneys and doctors etc., because they are licensed and therefore protected. The attorneys are better protected than the doctors as one can see from any visit to a clinic staffed largely by Pakistani doctors. The diversity in the legal profession is minimal. It was the professional class,largely lawyers, who motivated the free trade agreements that seem to focus on making sure intellectual property is rewarded. Somehow the working man was left out. I wonder why the negotiators of Nafta, for example, left the workers out. They could have just as easily negotiated that the UAW for example be allowed to organize Mexican auto factories. Had that been done the UAW could have used it strike funds to support the workers and shut the whole thing down. That would have raised wages in Mexico and been a huge boon to both our economies. Maybe a non lawyer as president might be a good idea………meaning bernie or failing that maybe trump……anything other than one more spoiled and entitled Harvard or Yale law school graduate.

  23. Usonian

    I don’t understand the ‘racist’ charge leveled at Trump. How is he ‘racist’? He’s spoken out most vociferously against two groups; Islamists and illegal immigrants. Neither of those are a race. Followers of Islam come in all races. Illegal immigrants could be from anywhere and be of any race. True, the vast majority of Islamists and illegal immigrants may have brown skin, but that’s not their defining feature. As far as I’ve heard, Mr. Trump has never spoken ill of any RACE, but rather has centered his criticisms on a cultural affiliation (Islam) and a volitious group of law-breakers. Where is the racism? For those who want to criticize Trump, at least do it truthfully. As soon as I see the ‘racist’ charge leveled at him by an author, I quit reading. You’re limiting your reach with that sort of intellectual dishonesty.

  24. VietnamVet

    This a good post and comments. Yes, opposition to free trade drives both the Sander’s and Trump insurgencies. Yes, the ruling elite ignore the plight of working class whites who are dying at increasingly earlier age. But, there are other forces at play. The bicoastal aristocracy holds middle America in utter contempt. The lives of the wealthy are now totally divorced from the low-lives with their gated communities and private jets. Also, atomic bombs have made people’s armies obsolete. Millions of conscripts from the masses are no longer needed. America’s wars instead are fought with neo-Nazis, jihadists and mercenaries. The forever wars and safe haven financial schemes are America’s only profit centers that holds up the House of Cards.

    The real question is how can this be changed without violence? My preference is Sanders>Trump/Clinton>Cruz. But, only Bernie Sanders appears to understand what is at play and he may avoid starting the third American revolution.

    1. Usonian

      >>>Sander’s and Trump insurgencies

      So, we’re ‘insurgents’. Wow. Does anyone who opposes your world view rise to the level of ‘insurgent’? As a military person, you must surely understand the power of that adjective.

      >>>The bicoastal aristocracy holds middle America in utter contempt.

      Yeah? I live in Orange County, California. I wasn’t at that particular cocktail party. I’ve a lot of friends who live in the Midwest. They’re decent, intelligent people. Mighty broad brush you’ve got there.

      >>>Also, atomic bombs have made people’s armies obsolete.

      You should know, as a military person, that land is occupied by people… not munitions. Try again.

      >>> America’s wars instead are fought with neo-Nazis, jihadists and >>>mercenaries.

      Mercenaries, I’ll concede… albeit very poorly paid ones… They should go on strike. By the way… Those are indeed people… NOT nuclear weapons (see above).

      However, neo-Nazis? I don’t think so. If you’ll recall, we’re generally engaged against primitivist Arabs and Central Asians, who were staunch allies of the Nazi ‘Original Recipe’. Try again.

      >>> and safe haven financial schemes are America’s only profit centers that >>>holds up the House of Cards.

      Indeed! On this we completely agree. Mr. Trump has made clear he intends to address this very issue. Have you listened to him?

      >>>The real question is how can this be changed without violence?

      By elections. Exactly as Jefferson and Franklin intended. Why do you presume violence? Have something in mind?

      >>>only Bernie Sanders appears to understand what is at play and he may >>>avoid starting the third American revolution.

      Really? He’s a career politician. And I might add, one I actually find refreshingly honest and unvarnished. What I’d like to see is a Trump-Sanders ticket. I’d vote for that in a fucking second…. Pardon my language, but the emphasis is entirely appropriate to my feelings on the matter.

      People… Please, for the love of honesty…. Unplug your dogma for just a few minutes before posting.

      1. Massinissa

        Uh, I just want to say, hes not using Insurgents as a negative word. Youre interpreting it negatively for some reason.

        Insurgency: Rebellion, Revolt.

        The Trump and Sanders are rebellions against the status quo, which is a good thing. In this context, I dont have a problem being labelled an insurgent, because its true. Clearly you are one too, as you are rebelling against the corrupt business-as-usual status quo. This is a good thing.

        Youre interpreting it as a negative word, maybe because youre confusing the word with terrorists or something.

        1. Usonian


          Agreed. I may have taken the term in a deeper meaning than it was intended. See what I mean? Even happened to myself. ;-)

          We’ve got to be more dispassionate in these analyses. The contestants need to be sensational to be heard… BUT… The voters need to adhere to an unemotional appraisal. That’s the only thing that will help us.

          Best wishes to you…. You’re quite correct in your assertion regarding my reaction to the term ‘insurgent’.

          My other comments stand, though.

        2. Usonian


          Now that we’re here…. Any comments on the other content I discussed? Would love to have a feel for where I stand, here. Seems nobody else has deigned to respond to some points I thought were rather pertinent in light of the public rhetoric surrounding Trump. It would seem his brand of plain speaking poses a threat to almost every constituency…. Not unlike one of my personal favorite historical figures, Theodore Roosevelt.

  25. Usonian

    Here’s another one…

    I’ve seen at least two references to ‘Working Class Whites’ in the comments. Where has Mr. Trump in any of his pronouncements isolated ‘Whites’ within the ‘Working Class’? All I’ve heard from him so far is a purported appeal to the ‘Working Class’ without any distinction being made regarding race.

    Am I missing something? It seems a lot of people are projecting their own biases onto Mr. Trump’s very specific statements. My understanding is that Mr. Trump has provided gainful employment to legal citizens across the race and gender spectra. Is that not so? As such, I’d estimate that Mr. Trump has a significant positive impact on the real body politic far in excess of that of his competitors. That’s a quantifiable fact.

    I’ll confess… I am a Trump supporter. He’s the only candidate that has articulated a case against the status quo, lawlessness (illegal immigration), and the medical / pharmacutical cartel that exists in the US. On those points alone, he has soothed many of my personal sore spots. His advocacy of the typical working person in the US is simply icing on the cake. Certainly, I can’t be sure he’ll actually act on what he’s articulated, but it’s a chance I’m willing to take considering that his fellow contenders can’t give a cogent answer on anything whatsoever.

    Message to Trump’s competitors: Articulate your position clearly. All the shifty talk with wide wiggle room alienates those of us who live in a world where the rule of law and mathematics still matter. A lot!

    1. weinerdog43

      I’m a Bernie supporter who will default to Trump should Hillary win the Democratic nomination.

      However, to respond to your question, I think you need to look through the lens of the AA or Mexican community. It is very obvious they are concerned with Mr. Trump. While perhaps he is not overtly being racist, I think a number of his followers plainly are. Explicit or implicit support of that sort of behavior is appalling. I specifically mention his statement that he would like to ‘…punch him in the face…’. Regardless of your position on the political spectrum, that statement is deeply disturbing coming from the potential preznit of the US.

      Given our past history, don’t you think that folks with a little different shade of skin color might be worried?

      Finally, your statement that he is the only candidate who has articulated the case against the status quo is simply wrong.

  26. Knute Rife

    I was saying in 1992 that the Democratic Party was losing what grip it had left on blue collar voters by ignoring Perot’s critiques of “free trade,” but the party just followed Clinton, Gore, and the rest of the DLC down a rat hole, and the party has been paying for it ever since.

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