We will no longer surrender this country or its people to the false song of globalism.—Donald J. Trump
As my colleague noted, the populist right is on the march. Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, and Heinz-Christian Strache are exemplars of the international movement to replace free trade with protectionism, to replace immigration with nationalism, and to replace cooperation with a global standoff akin to the 19th-century. Donald Trump agrees with these forces. He is against globalization and free trade as he rejects that they are the primary causes for people being lifted out of poverty.
But unlike in the United States, where the conservatives who resists Trump’s protectionism and nationalism are called impure (of course, by this standard, Ronald Reagan was a raving leftist), true British conservatives—who believe in free trade, clear and simple immigration, and equal rights for all people regardless of lineage and nationality—led Brexit to increase globalization. When they entered the EU, the UK believed they were entering a free trade agreement. That quickly changed as Prime Minister John Major signed the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, which created the EU’s central government, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown signed the 2007 Treat of Lisbon, which further increased the EU’s political powers. These changes halted free trade and globalization by preventing nations from signing agreements independent of the EU and forced countries to follow EU regulatory codes. Certain MEPs, like Daniel Hannan, argued against these policy decisions because they did not properly reflect their desires for globalization and free trade. It is believed that this type of “leave” voter makes up the majority of the leave campaign. They closely identify with the “remain” policy goals but believe the EU failed to provide these ends.
Strache, interestingly enough, provided what separates Hannan and true conservatism from people like him and Donald Trump:
All of us are pursuing a common objective: namely, the protection of the historically indigenous identity of the European people, who are in the pincer grip of an unbridled mass immigration from culturally foreign regions and of a homogenizing globalization after the American model.
Why would Strache credit the European mission to a forced Americanism? Because American conservatives fought for free trade and globalization. As Ronald Reagan noted:
[T]he idea is to increase trade between nations, not impede it. When you hear talk about a tough trade bill, remember that being tough on trade and commerce—the lifeblood of the economy—will have the worst possible consequences for the consumer and the American worker. First, it would drive up the price of much of what we buy, but, worse than that, it could drag us into an economy destroying trade war. I’m old enough to remember the last time a so-called tough trade bill passed Congress. It was called Smoot-Hawley, and it helped give us or at least deepened the Great Depression of the 1930s. The way up and out for the trade deficit is not protectionism, not bringing down the competition, but, instead, the answer lies in improving our products and increasing our exports.
Donald Trump’s “anti-Americanism” (to use Strache’s characterization) trade and globalization message should be rejected. It is a shame that the GOP has lost the Gipper’s message of international trade, peace, and free competition to pick up the mantle of European nationalism.
Title Photo: Daniel Hannan speaks at CPAC 2012 about the strong relationship between the “anglo-sphere” nations.Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons