Linda Chavez is a syndicated writer and a former speech writer for Ronald Reagan. Writing recently in “Town Hall” she claims that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are promoting isolationism. She apparently believes that, in trade relations, the only two choices are for the status quo or isolationism.
The status quo regarding trade policy would mean that the U.S. continues with its markets wide open to foreign producers while, at the same time, foreign producers protect their producers from U.S. competition. This has led to:
- A 1/3 loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. or roughly 8 million jobs.
- Loss of another 16-24 million supply chain jobs.
- The U.S. declining from the world’s breadbasket to a net food importer.
- Dangerous products threatening our health and safety.
- More pollution per unit of produce.
- A shrinking of the U.S. middle class and a widening income gap.
- Stagnant U.S. wages for almost 3 decades.
- An accumulated trade deficit of nearly $17 trillion, the biggest share of our budget deficit.
- The end of the American Dream for the next generation.
- Much of the anger and frustration felt in our political establishment.
- A severely weakened military.
In reality, what Trump wants is a return to Reagan policies where there are rules for trade, everyone follows the rules and there are consequences for those who do not. Much of Trump’s comments on this subject are direct quotes from President Reagan.
China, and now many others, have flouted WTO rules since being allowed to join the WTO. Currency manipulation and other protectionist practices in foreign nations have devastated manufacturing, the bedrock of our economy.
What Trump proposes is to introduce fairness, a Reagan principle that has been lost, in our trade relationships, particularly with China. Once we stand up to China, other friendlier nations will get the message and stop their protectionist practices as well. Trump is also right when he says we have tremendous leverage over China just as any other customer has over their supplier.
Is there a danger we may over-react and move too far towards protectionism? Of course there is. This danger should not stop us from moving our relationships to more balance. Besides, we have a long way to move before we have any danger of going too far.
Staying the course, as the Washington Cartel candidates – Bush, Rubio, Kasich, Clinton and Christie – want will surely lead to more of the same bad results mentioned above.
This will be the most important presidential election of our lifetimes. Do we want more of the same? Should we just manage our inevitable decline? Or, should we try a different course? Ronald Reagan laid out a course that rebalanced trade and gave us 15 years of prosperity. It worked then and will work again.
It is up to you and me to make the right choice. Someone once said that direction is more important than speed. We need to vote for a change in direction. We can worry about the speed once we turn this around.
If the record crowds that Trump is getting is any indication, the turnout for this election should set a record as many independents and others who feel disenfranchised will be voting. An indication of this will be the New Hampshire primary where independents can vote.
No matter the outcome, it is easy to predict that this will be one of the most important and exciting elections in our history.
Frank Shannon served in the U.S. Army, was an engineering/operations manager for AT&T for 27 years, was the owner of a small manufacturing business for 23 years, served as Colorado Chair of the Coalition for a Prosperous America and moved to Mesquite in 2013.