“It’s the economy, stupid.”
Back in 1992, when some of us were just getting our political footing and times were more innocent despite all the “bimbo eruptions,” that was the mantra that gave us Bill Clinton and his consort in the White House. Before the days of the internet, alternative media blogs, and Fox News, and back when the only voice on the radio giving any time to something other than the mainstream media line as fed to them by the powers that be was Rush Limbaugh, “It’s the Economy, Stupid” sold enough people on the idea that America’s economic prosperity was on the line that election year that the person who really DID do lasting damage to the economy, and was instrumental in destroying multiple industries while he was in office, was elected.
24 years later, America’s economic prosperity is significantly diminished. Why? There are those that blame corporate greed, and those who rightfully point out that Environmental Protection Agency regulations make building and industry expensive. There is even something to the notion that American trade unions priced themselves out of the global market of workers. The tax code, including confiscatory taxes installed under Bill Clinton that have never really gone away, does not help. However, none of that would have really been allowed to hold industry back if it were not for the trade policies, treaties and agreements that dismantled a certain amount of American protectionism.
“It’s the economy, stupid,” was the Alinsky-esque mantra that gave the people in power at the time the cover to pass what amounts to a treaty known as the North American Free Trade Agreement or in the language of the day, NAFTA. It is this agreement that gave 2016 a political disruptor by the name of Donald Trump, and exposed what the elites have been up to all these years.
In 1994, when NAFTA was passed and signed, it had been in the works for years under more than just the Clinton Administration, and just like the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement currently under scrutiny, what NAFTA actually entailed was very difficult to come by until about 24 hours before its passage and signing. (When this writer mentioned that to a journalism teacher in college, he admitted I had a point. How could one form an opinion unless one knew what was in the agreement.) Upon reading the details, it became very obvious that this was the first step in making North America all one country, or at least, all one trading block.
What no one appreciated at the time, and what has become painfully obvious to Americans on the fruited plain who work on their feet and with their hands for a living, was that the bulwark that kept us prosperous and the economic envy of the world had just been obliterated…well, on our own continent, anyway. The Chinese trade deficit is a completely different matter.
22 years after NAFTA’s passage, the factories and plants that kept Americans employed and off the dole are far fewer, and multiple industries have disappeared from inside the USA’s borders. The work is still done, but more cheaply in other countries, with transportation costs still not overcoming the savings of manufacturing elsewhere and shipping the goods here. According to Bloomberg, the trade deficit with Mexico alone in 2015 was $60 BILLION dollars. Much of that is manufacturing that went south of the border after NAFTA went into effect. (We all thought he was nuts, but Ross Perot was right about that gigantic sucking sound. Many of the Mexicans who came across the border to work have actually now gone back.)
In the last two decades, the true losers of the economic shenanigans at the top of the economic food chain and all the free trade agreeing is plain and simply the blue collar middle class of America. The people who work on their feet and with their hands. The ones who may or may not have college degrees, and the ones who learned trades and crafts from those who came before. The “little people.” The “vulgar” in the base meaning of the word. The Americans and true patriots, many of them, who are scorned by the elite and multiple writers who have, of late, told them to buck up and move on from their homes to find other sources of income even if they don’t have the means and no inclination to do so. These are the people who have been sucked dry and who are making a fraction of what they were two decades earlier. They are the ones most impacted by the passage of ObamaCare and the increased costs associated with healthcare thanks to that law.
These are the people who descended on Washington, D.C., on September 12, 2010 using the name TEA Party (as in TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY) and scared the daylights out of the political establishment, and these are the people who now support those same elites’ nightmare in the form of presidential candidate Donald Trump. What the elites do not seem to understand, though, is that by passing and implementing NAFTA and other free trade agreements that exported jobs out of the United States, they created a reverse Trojan Horse that is going to be their downfall in any honest election or debate. When it comes to the loss of jobs in this fashion, there is nowhere for the elites to hide.
Thomas Black and Isabella Cota of Bloomberg published an expose well worth reading on this topic, quoting real people who feel real pain from NAFTA, and free trade, as well as the recipients of American jobs exported south of the border. In effect, NAFTA became the Trojan horse of wealth redistribution, only the wealth being redistributed does not belong to the rich. It belongs to the middle class. That is what the American people are so angry about, and that is why Donald Trump is a phenomenon in 2016 and a great danger to the political class. His message speaks directly to reversing this economic damage. Given the vitriol generated as the election season has droned on, the establishment does not want hum to do that.