Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Swindled. How Vulnerable People in America and Elsewhere Were Conned into Faux Populism

Donald Trump's die hard supporters still believe he's a populist who will deliver them from the evils of globalism. He's not. He's a swindler and the Gullibillies are his lawful prey.

David Adler, writing in The New Republic, examines why, "Right-Wing Populism Can't Fix Globalization."

Across Europe and North America, the rise of populism was widely seen as a backlash against globalization by its losers and left-behinds. Their vote reflected discontent with decades of international economic integration, which came at the cost of democratic control. Populist candidates were elected with the mandate to take back that control.

Many observers made sense of this transformation in the terms of Rodrik’s “trilemma of the world economy.” The trilemma stipulates that we can satisfy only two of the three following conditions: global economic integration, national sovereignty, and substantive democracy. Within this framework, the populist turn was away from globalization + sovereignty and toward democracy + sovereignty. Or so the argument went.

Today, the true intentions of these right-radical movements are clear. Far from changing course, they are doubling down on hyper-globalization—deepening the democratic deficit along the way.

If the great globalization lie was a tragedy—a sour mix of bad economics, technocratic politics, and simple bad faith—the populist reaction is cruel farce. Proudly pointing out the mistakes of globalization, it does everything it can to repeat them.

Donald Trump's "False Flag"

Trump’s term in office may have begun with a noisy ejection from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but his big promise of protectionism has been mostly smoke and mirrors. A campaign trail attack on China for its “rape” of American workers has softened to praise for President Xi Jinping—a “very special man,” in Trump’s words—and $250 billion in bilateral business agreements. An attack on Wall Street for “getting away with murder” has turned into a generous program of regulatory rollback in support of a “devastated” finance industry. And the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 to just 21 percent—a generous invitation to international capital, not a challenge to it.

But what about in the domestic economy? Has the Trump administration drained the swamp to give voice to the American worker?

Quite the opposite. The walls of the White House are padded thick with special interests—far more than two decades ago, when Bill Clinton first pushed the Third Way agenda. The administration has eliminated rules against lobbyists entering the White House, and it has eliminated the publication of the visitors’ logs that held these lobbyists accountable to the public. “Do you have a regulation that we should put on a list to eliminate?” the White House regularly asks lobbyists. “Is there something that is impeding you from growing?”

If we are to unwind from excessive economic integration, then, it must be on progressive terms. Fortification of the nation-state means nothing if it leads to a race to the bottom of regulatory standards. Progressives can only justify their extraction from international regulatory frameworks if they are prepared to introduce an even more robust set of regulations, protections, and provisions for economic investment—to redistribute power, in other words, back to the people, and not just between geographies of elites.

No comments: