Thursday, October 28, 2010

China-bashing by the Dems

Maybe it's just because it's election season and linking opponents to sinister furriners is a hardly honorable but time-tested tactic. But the curious thing is that this cycle the Democrats and liberals (modern American style, not classical), who in the recent past worked hard to associate themsleves with cosmopolitanism, openness to the other and all that are sounding like jingoists. Union preferences have something to do with it, of course; U.S. unions are always angling for protection from foreign companies in the fear that downward pressure might be put on wages.

The upshot is that we have the Obama administration sounding for all the world, as this Register editorial explains, like late-1990s neoconservatives, when those unworthies were casting about for a credible enemy to justify continuing to build up the military-industrial complex and throwing America's weight around the world. The Yellow Peril! Barbara Boxer claiming she yearns to see more "made in America" goods! Very strange if you took stated beliefs seriously, but perfectly understandable in the context of political opportunism in an election year.

I talked to Cato's main trade guy, Dan Griswold (former editorial page editor at Freedom's Colorado Springs paper, but that was a long time ago). He just wrote an excellent piece on the "shipping jobs overseas" canard, and he says it seems more like election-year blustering than a serious move to start a trade war with China. I hope he's right, but anti-trade and fear-of-trade sentiment cuts across ideological lines appealing to know-nothings on both "left" and "right." I'm afraid it will persist after the election is over.

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