More than one U.S. presidential election has been won or lost on the issue of global trade. In 1888, the Republican candidate Benjamin Harrison ran on a protectionist platform against President Grover Cleveland. The GOP won that election on a promise of high tariffs designed to protect American industry and guarantee high wages and economic growth. Right up until the 1930s, the Republicans campaigned against the threat of free trade to American jobs.
Donald Trump might represent a departure from more modern Republican orthodoxy on international trade, but he also signals a return to the older protectionist streak that ran through the party of Abraham Lincoln for a century. Today, protectionism is back.
A retreat from free trade
The world seems to be contracting from its embrace of free trade. The election of Donald Trump effectively killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement five years in the making between 12 Pacific Rim nations that... To get the full story, subscribe now.