If Democrats Don’t Start Talking Like Trump On Trade, They WILL Lose

It's been 212 years since he was killed in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr, and people are waiting for months to see the play about the life of the first United States Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.

The play is so popular that the producers of "Hamilton" just increased the cost of the best tickets in the house to 849 dollars to try to discourage ticket scalpers who have been hocking tickets for more than 2,000 dollars apiece on the black market!.

But if Democrats want to win big in November, they better skip the show and spend some time instead brushing up on Hamilton's greatest legacy and biggest gift to the United States of America: his 11-point plan for "American Manufacturers".

Back in 1789 when George Washington was elected to be the first president of the United States, he faced a simple problem of finding a suit of clothes that was actually made in America to wear for his inauguration.

The fact is that prior to the Revolution, the UK had laws imposed on the colonies that made it illegal for us to manufacture many of our own products, including fine clothing.

These laws, of course, were in place to keep manufacturing in England, but the effect of them was that we had been principally a producer of raw materials like cotton, with very little industry.

George Washington did manage to get an American made suit in time for his inauguration because a tailor in Connecticut had been breaking the British laws, but Washington's search for an American-made suit highlighted the fact that because of our colonial history, there was little to no manufacturing in the United States when we became an independent nation.

So Washington asked Alexander Hamilton to draw up a solution to America's manufacturing dependence, and in 1791, Hamilton presented his 11-point plan to foster American manufacturing.

The core of Hamilton's plan was simple: put high tariffs (import taxes) on foreign manufactured goods; prohibit the export of critical raw materials and promote their import; subsidize domestic manufacturing until it was strong enough to stand on its own; and invest in domestic innovation and infrastructure.

Hamilton wasn't the first to propose the use of tariffs and subsidies to build a strong domestic manufacturing sector: King Henry VII's "Tudor Plan" used similar policies to transform England into a developed state at the end of the 15th century.

More famously, Adam Smith's 18th century economic analysis "The Wealth of Nations" spelled out exactly how domestic manufacturing grows a nation's economy.

Smith used the example of a person taking a valueless tree branch and using his or her skill and labor to carve it into a valuable axe handle which then becomes part of the wealth of the nation for years into the future.

And that's still how it works: our nation's wealth grows when American workers build cars and other consumer products and when we build bridges and other infrastructure, for instance.

Two years after Hamilton proposed his 11-point plan, most of its points had either been made into law by Congress or formulated into policy by either President Washington or various states, and it built the greatest industrial powerhouse the world had ever seen.

But after nearly 200 years of success, Hamilton's proposals were systematically rejected and abandoned when Ronald Reagan deregulated the American economy and promoted so-called "free trade" in the Western Hemisphere.

Before Reagan took office, we were the world's largest importer of raw materials and the world's largest exporter of finished, manufactured goods.

We were the world's largest creditor, we even loaned money to developing countries so that they could afford to buy American-made goods, and we had been running a trade surplus for most of the 200 years before Reagan took office.

Reagan started it, but every president since then has continued to destroy American manufacturing with insane trade deals like NAFTA, CAFTA, and Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China.

Even Barack Obama has negotiated sweeping new trade deals like the Transpacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the TPP and TTIP.

It hasn't come at a small cost either, as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders frequently points out, America has lost over 60,000 factories in just the last 15 years to so-called "free trade".

According to Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, NAFTA alone cost us at least a million jobs in its first 20 years, creating a massive trade deficit with our trading partners and increasing income inequality in the United States.

Democrats need to realize that it's no secret that our trade deals are disasters, average working Americans know it well, because they've been hurt the worst.

And if Democrats don't wake up and come out strong against these disastrous trade deals, they risk losing industrial swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan in November.

Don Gonyea on NPRs Morning Edition talked to a former steelworker and lifelong Democrat in Canton, Ohio who is supporting Trump in this election based on his rhetoric on trade.

Other steelworkers told Gonyea that they would have supported Bernie Sanders because he was as clear as Trump about trade, but that given a choice between Trump and Hillary, Trump is more outspoken about how badly the middle class has been hurt by our disastrous trade deals.

And if anything should worry Democrats about the general election, it should be the very real possibility of losing the votes of rank-and-file working people and lifelong Democrats to Donald Trump and other down-ticket Republicans who might start parroting his anti-trade rhetoric.

Over 220 years ago, Alexander Hamilton presented Congress with a plan to transform America from a fledgling agrarian nation into the most productive industrial powerhouse that the world had ever seen.

And now it's time to do that again, and to reject our insane "free trade deals" that only benefit multinational corporations at the expense of the American working class.

We need a revival of Hamilton's sensible and proven trade policies that made America into the world's manufacturing powerhouse for nearly 200 years.

No matter how they may feel about "Hamilton" the musical, if Democrats want to win big in November, they need to embrace Alexander Hamilton's proven plan to reduce our dependence on foreign-made goods and to bring good-paying manufacturing jobs back to the United States.


cccccttttt 8 years 2 weeks ago

Big corporations want cheap labor.

Hillary is for sale to big corproations.

She will say anything for a vote , but you can

bet her deeds will be the same as Obama.

Not a single word about a much needed WPA for the high

tech age?


larm007's picture
larm007 8 years 2 weeks ago

You've got that right. And what scares me the most is her war hawkishness. I am dumbfounded as to how ignorant people are. That said, with all the brainwashing (hear MSM lack of reporting truthful news) it is no wonder. We're in deep do-do now. I read and watch a lot of independent journalism, and have no reason to doubt what they report. It really is going to take a political revolution. And one way to start is to clean up our corrupted voting system. We should demand it, after all, government is supposed to be for, of and by the people...and for the most part, they don't even listen to us. How many overturn Citizen's United or Just Label It petitions have we all signed? Sorry, I can get carried away becasue I am so pissed. P.S, Fox News needs to be off the air as well as lamestream media.

Howard Laverne Stewart's picture
Howard Laverne ... 8 years 2 weeks ago

We should promote tariffs with a documentary using Alex. Hamilton's play and or ideaology as well as exhibiting the Reagan Legislation that
that facilitated the abandoned USA factories and job loss to countries like China.
In my opinion, Globalization is unpatriotic.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 8 years 2 weeks ago

Bernie and the Dems also need to expose Ryan's budget plans, as well as his obsession with cutting Social Security. If this info ever reaches the voters, Ryan and the Teapublic Party will quickly shrink from existence.

Trump can lie all he wants about ending free trade and protecting social security, if informed, most voters, the non gun nuts, will recognize and not trust Trump's alliance with Ryan's party, the one that votes "yes" on his insane budget plans.

charlesknowlton's picture
charlesknowlton 8 years 2 weeks ago

I worry about the extreme left and extreme right positions that are being thrown around. The choice between unfettered free trade and protectionism is a false choice. The problem with the current system is its assymetry and "race to the bottom" tragectory.

The US removes barriers to US imports but China and Japan erect barriers to importing into their countries. Chinese companies operate freely in the US, yet US companies have to give majority control to Chinese partners for their divisions operating in China.

US companies export jobs to China and India because of low wages and low worker & environmental protection. Asian companies employ workers in near-slave labor conditions. For US workers to compete, should they have to work for $2/hour minimum wage on dirt floor factories?

A better approach would be to establish the value of worker hours on an even scale. Consider safety, environment, health and retirement benefits, as well as salary. When we import something from a country whose standards are inferior to our own, we charge a duty for the difference. These countries would rather pay their workers better than to give the money to our government. Wages and conditions in those countries would improve until they've raised to our level.

We need trade regulations that favor workers across the world, not just the CEO's of international companies and politicians.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 8 years 2 weeks ago

McConnell's filibuster of legislation ending tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas needs to be repeated as often as possible too. The Republican Party wants to outsource your jobs...yep, the same party Trump represents.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 8 years 2 weeks ago

I agree Charles...free trade should not be an economic race to the bottom benefiting only a few heartless and greedy individuals. I would add however that labor unions and worker coops representing the many, have always been the answer to the greed and power of the few. The Fascists in our own country have beat down most of our unions, so I'm not sure how unions in the slave labor countries can evolve.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 2 weeks ago

If Hillary is the standard bearer of the Democratic Party then Democrats can talk all they want, it won't mean a thing. Why does ANYBODY think changing rhetoric does?
I'm beginning to think it's by design. Every election cycle the Republicans get crazier and crazier and we vote for an ever increasingly conservative, corporate shill Democrat because "Anything is better than the Republican!".

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 2 weeks ago

Trump has everything the American, white, male, blue collar worker would want. Only Bernie could beat Trump.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 2 weeks ago

Lefties are really stupid, they cut their own throats constantly. They really DESERVE to have Trump.
Only problem is WE don't deserve to have Trump. We don't deserve to be victims of their stupidity.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 2 weeks ago

The bourgeois, academic left has no business presuming to speak for the blue collar worker. They live in libraries and lecture halls and have no idea about the real world.

Ou812's picture
Ou812 8 years 2 weeks ago

Saulys, I don't agree with much of what you say. Neither political revolution nor ball games are won by giving in or giving up. I respect your conviction, you are hanging in while your fellow lefties are jumping off the Bernie bandwagon. If you lefties want any hope of winning your political revolution, you cannot give up now. I guess we'll see in the next few weeks if Bernie is a true leader, or just another politician. Support for Clinton is not support for Political Revolution, it's support for the same old same old.

sakkela's picture
sakkela 8 years 2 weeks ago

Citizen United was about HRC!!!

Citizen united came out as a case the right wing was trying to use to destroy Hilary. They (the right wing group) wanted to use a propaganda movie to make sure she lost against then Obama. The Supreme court then took the opportunity to widen the scope of the case as more of a case that was about free speech. The right won that case and Hilary lost that battle. However, since then the has been saying she would do whatever it take to turn it over. Am just tired of people always saying HRC is not going to fight to overturn Citizen united.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 2 weeks ago

Obama just nominated a judge for SCOTUS who supports the Citizens United decision. How much more so will Hillary?

Roe v. Wade won't be overturned no matter who is president.


Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 2 weeks ago

The most important issue before us - next to climate change - is "free" trade. Trump opposes it, i.e., opposes NAFTA, GATT, TPP, WTO and all the others and supports a 30% tariff on imported goods. That is the only thing that could bring back manufacturing - and the flight of manufacturing is the source of ALL our economic problems. Manufacturing used to be the tax base and the source of jobs that made the blue collar middle class.

Hillary says she is against free trade, now. Once elected she's certain to either flip or try to support it without too much notice, in flagrant hypocrisy.

Climate change has Hillary the better - if you believe her words (in which case I have a bridge to sell you).

Hillary just plain doesn't DESERVE anybody's vote. Most of us are just so personally offended by her constant lying to our faces that we wouldn't vote for her if the world was on fire and she had the last extinguisher.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 1 week ago

Hey, wassamatter Democrats? Rank and file, blue collar working people not doing as they're told?
Remember Hillary's DLC buddy, Rahm Emanuel, when talking about progressive Democratic Party voters? "Where else are they gonna go?" Meaning, of course, "Go ahead, sell them out."

gz4m7q's picture
gz4m7q 8 years 1 week ago

Exactly right. My husband and I retired from GM in 2011. We loved our jobs. Our children struggle and they buy imported cars. Makes no sense.

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