Saturday, 2 August 2003

Gephardt and trade politics

Jacob Levy needs only 232 words to eviscerate Dick Gephardt, the Bush adminstration, and (by extension) the Teamsters, on the basis of their shared, idiotic trade policies.

However, I don’t share Jacob’s guarded optimism that the Gephardt endorsement will stop Bush from proposing yet more protectionist policies; not only are union voters often non-observant of the union endorsement (and thereby able to be wooed separately), there are also plenty of other interests in swing states that want additional protectionist measures: catfish farmers in Louisiana, timber workers in the Pacific Northwest, and midwestern agribusiness.

The seeming last gasp of Gephardt and his New Deal Democratic philosophy is overall a great thing for American politics, but the confluence of pork barrelling, nativism, isolationism, and protectionism at the heart of trade politics on both sides of the aisle remains.