The link I provided above will take you to a segment of today’s “Meet the Press” program on NBC in which Chuck Todd, chief white house correspondent for NBC, presents the results of a new NBC-Esquire Magazine poll which identified the characteristics of the American “political center.” This poll found that this group, which represents the majority of Americans, can be characterized by the following traits:
- Party loyalists (though not strongly so)
- Pro-safety net
- Socially libertarian
I found it interesting that, as Chuck Todd ran down the list, briefly describing each trait, he completely skipped over one of them – “isolationist.” That’s the term now applied to those who are concerned about the negative impacts of globalization and free trade. Such people used to be described as “protectionist.” But I suppose that that term now seems quite reasonable. People see nothing wrong with wanting to protect American jobs and the American economy. So, it’s now better to describe them as “isolationist” – a term that conjures up images of people with some sort of personality disorder – withdrawn and anti-social, like monkeys from a psychology experiment who have been deprived of social interaction with other monkeys.
The term is a mischaracterization of where people are today. One can oppose the blind application of free trade policy without being “isolationist” at all. Most have no problem with trade in general – just that trade policy should be applied intelligently. Most continue to favor a strong foreign policy with the U.S. playing a leading role in international issues.
The conclusion, as described by Chuck Todd, is that these are values that aren’t being represented in Congress today. Indeed. When it comes to trade policy, the voice of the American people has been ignored for decades as both parties have bowed to the will of their corporate benefactors, advancing free trade policy to the detriment of the American people. Today’s impasse on the debt ceiling is a direct consequence. We’re divided into two camps: one that can’t stomach any more deficit spending (which is absolutely essential as long as we continue to run a trade deficit), and the other which says the government should continue to go ever deeper in debt to take care of us if you’re going to do nothing to bring our jobs back.
As long as the world’s economists refuse to consider the role of overpopulation in driving global trade imbalances, I see no way out. This is going to continue to get worse.