Trump Has Rewritten Trade Politics, Just Maybe Not as Expected



Shawn Donnan | Bloomberg

The consensus view is that since his arrival on the global political scene in 2016 Donald Trump has rewritten the politics of trade and ended a 70-year march of perpetual trade liberalization and the acceleration of globalization that came with it.

Set aside for a second the economics and what Trump’s trade policies have — or have not — actually achieved in dollars-and-cents substance (not much, seems to be the economists’ consensus). Trump’s greatest achievement in trade policy, according to most political analysts, is that his shift away from Republican free-trade orthodoxy towards a nationalist protectionism illuminated what it took to garner working-class votes in forlorn industrial swing states. Which is taken to mean that Democrats and Republicans alike will heretofore embrace the same forever more.

But is that really how Trump rewrote the politics of trade?

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