The Fundamentalist Church of Free Trade
Both Democrats and Republicans can agree on one thing: protectionism is dead.
Since Congress foolishly delegated its powers to negotiate tariff rates to the Executive Branch in the 1930s (in the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934), trade liberalism has become the norm. High-tariff Republicanism, which dates back to Lincoln, has been discarded. The very legitimate idea of protecting needy American industries, a fundamentally Hamiltonian belief, is now scoffed at by the Fundamentalist Church of Free Trade.
Certain high-ranking clergymen like Karl Rove, George Will, Bill Kristol, and Newt Gingrich will often dismiss those on the right who speak favorably of tariff implementation as a way to facilitate a truly America-First economic agenda. Protectionist measures, they claim, are backward and "neo-isolationist."
This is simply hogwash.
Dogmatic trade liberals completely dismiss the adverse effects of free trade. The fact of the matter is that certain trade-liberalizing policies (think WTO and NAFTA) have slaughtered the Rust Belt. Many American cities that were once great epicenters of innovation and industrialization now look a lot like Aleppo. This, in turn, has led to the mass disenfranchisement of blue-collar workers, who are told to enroll in largely ineffective job-retraining programs.
Those in the Fundamentalist Church of Free Trade won't admit that they are part of a religious cult, but they are.
Image: Wellcome Images.