June 29, 2016
Forgotten History: How American Presidents from Washington to Lincoln Agree with Trump on Trade
Following World War II, America began switching from a policy of protection, to a policy of “free trade,” which used international trade deals as a means of diplomacy and alliance-building, slowly eroding and ultimately destroying America’s status as the world’s dominant manufacturing power.
“For some time now our ‘best and brightest’ have been invoking false doctrines that are systematically undermining American prosperity,” writes Clyde Prestowitz, counselor to the Secretary of Commerce under President Reagan. “Reversing America’s traditional national economic-development policies, U.S. leaders after World War II increasingly embraced consumerism and a faith in the efficacy of unfettered markets and trade that evolved over time into a new gospel of laissez-faire globalization.”
It wasn’t until the mid-90s, however, that trade unilateralism and internationalism were fully embraced as the new dogma. Both Presidents Nixon and Reagan would be much more closely aligned with Trump on trade than they would be with today’s free trade dogmatists.
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