Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Broad Appeal of Protectionism

David Brooks has an article today about the lack of viable politicians who appeal to working class white Americans. One part at the end is interesting:
If you took a working-class candidate from the right, like Santorum, and a working-class candidate from the left, like Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and you found a few islands of common ground, you could win this election by a landslide.
Those two candidates disagree on almost every issue (LGBT rights, foreign affairs, taxes etc.) but they do share a common focus on the outsourcing of American jobs. They have different policy prescriptions; Brown opposes free trade, Santorum wants to give special tax rates to businesses that manufacture in America. However, they seem to agree that using the power of government to favor american businesses at the expense of foreign ones can make America more competitive.

Santorum seems to even recognize this unlikely alliance:
“The -- the cool thing about my plan as opposed to Herman's plans and some of the other plans out here, it'll pass tomorrow. It would pass tomorrow. Why? Because industrial-state Democrats want those jobs and they know if we put a pro-manufacturing- jobs plan on the table it will pass overnight. We'll get votes from Indiana and Pennsylvania and Ohio and Michigan, all of those states.”
In earlier times, middle class voters from manufacturing states voting together in an effort to protect their industries was quite common. The Democrats and the Republicans have both become more ideological recently, so this sort of alliance seems unlikely. As globalization continues itll be interesting to see if these sorts of alliances can form in the future.

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