This is, I guess, a bit of a follow-up from my (too many?) recent posts dealing with Presidents Trump’s brand of populism, the nature of globalization, the new migration and my views on how Conservatives should respond.
I’m one of those who believes that globalization has been good for the world, including for the US led West. But many people, insightful people like former Prime Minister Stephen Harper whose views I take as informed and valid, opine that globalization has been unbalanced, that working and middle class North Americans, especially, have paid too high a price and that one side effect of that price is the rise of Trumpian populism.
Now, in an article in Foreign Affairs, Charles Kenny who is a senior fellow and the director of technology and development at the Center for Global Development in Washington and, therefore one of globalization’s more prominent cheerleaders argue that those, including one assumes Prime Minister Harper, who argue that we need to appease opponents of globalization “misunderstand Trump’s electoral success. The voters who were won over by his antiglobalist message were not legitimate victims of globalization. Many, if not most, were and are older white supporters of patriarchy who resent people with dark skin, especially those from other countries. Although it might be inexpedient to call this group deplorable, a program of appeasement toward their views is wrong—economically, politically, and morally. Globalization has been an overwhelmingly positive force for the United States and the rest of the world. Instead of apologizing for themselves, it is time for internationalists to take the fight to an aging minority of nativists and wall builders.“
He puts the appeasers into two broad camps, saying that, on the right, “Backlash appeasers have a number of thoughtful and influential voices on their side. Many are former champions of globalization who worry that it has moved too fast. The Financial Times commentator Edward Luce, for instance, suggested in his 2017 book, The Retreat of Western Liberalism, that by promoting globalization, “the world’s elites have helped provoke what they feared: a populist uprising against the world economy.” To save the liberal project, he argued, we must abandon “the drive to deep globalization.” Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers has similarly warned of “a growing suspicion on the part of electorates that globalization is an elite project that primarily benefits elites” … [but, he adds] … Other members of this chorus are liberals and left-wingers who have long been critical of free trade and who see Trump’s election as a vindication. In a March article for The American Prospect, the liberal journalist Robert Kuttner claimed that “elites of both parties won the policy debates on trade, but lost the people.” According to Kuttner, “the more that bien pensants double down on globalization, the more defections they invite and the more leaders like Trump we get.” The author John Judis took to The New York Times to criticize the left for ignoring the emotional appeal of nationalism, arguing that low-skilled immigration and China’s unfair trading practices had hurt American workers, helping to “create a new class of angry ‘left-behinds’” who were susceptible to Trump’s message.” I think it is important to remember that opposition to globalization was at least as strong in the Clinton camp in 2016 as it was in the Trump campaign. Both protectionism and isolationism run deep in the United States body politic.
Dr Kenny explains that both the anti-immigration and anti-free(er) trade arguments make some, but only limited sense. He sees the main cause of Trumpian populism as being “white fright.” Even, he says, “if the economic benefits of globalization are widely understood, a minority sees it as a cultural threat. This is what explains the supposed backlash. Public opinion surveys from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) suggest that 34 percent of all Americans feel that the growing number of immigrants threatens traditional American values and customs. But only 19 percent of those aged 18 to 29 feel that way, compared with 44 percent of those over the age of 65 and 53 percent of white evangelical Protestants of all ages. Similarly, the political scientists Diana C. Mutz, Edward D. Mansfield, and Eunji Kim found that whites are consistently less supportive of trade deals than are members of other racial groups. They attribute this imbalance to whites’ “heightened sense of national superiority” and ethnocentrism. If markers of economic hardship—such as low education, skills, or wages—determined opinions on trade (or migration), minorities would be the ones opposed. In fact, the reverse is true.” My, personal sense, is that he is on the right track and, as I have said before, it is a track that Canadian Conservatives want and need to avoid.
Charles Kenny looks at some of the data and concludes that “a significant proportion of Republican partisans have decided that white Christian men are the new oppressed. A PRRI survey in February 2017 found that 43 percent of Republicans felt there was a lot of discrimination against whites, and 48 percent thought there was a lot of discrimination against Christians, compared with only 27 percent who thought there was a lot of discrimination against blacks. Given the gap between black and white families in terms of both median income and median wealth, such thinking is delusional. But many whites, Mutz notes, fear that they will soon become a minority within the United States and feel that the country as a whole is losing its global dominance. This sense of lost national status and persecution fueled support for Trump.” Some Canadians think that it can fuel support for Maxime Bernier, too, and in so doing split the Conservative base.
Dr Kenny says that “When regretful internationalists,” which would include former Prime Minister Harper, I assume, “talk about pausing globalization to save it, the group they cater to is not the “left-behind” but older, bigoted whites who are unreconciled to the cultural changes of recent decades. It would be both ethically repugnant and politically and economically unwise to pander to them … [and, he says it would be] … Politically unwise because theirs is a minority view that is dying; economically suicidal because for all that old white men are delusional about facing discrimination at home, they are absolutely correct regarding the United States’ slipping status as a superpower. That is why it is particularly urgent for the country to lock in fair global regimes while it still has the leverage to do so. This means playing by the rules of the WTO and taking those immigrants who still want to come to the United States. Ironically, immigration is particularly important for aging whites themselves: although non-Hispanic whites will become a minority of the overall population within the next three decades, they will still make up 60 percent of people over the age of 65 in 2050. They will need young immigrant workers to keep Social Security and Medicare solvent. Add to these political and economic motives an ethical one: globalization has been the most powerful force ever for lifting humanity out of destitution.” That bit about young immigrant workers paying for old, white folks’ social security applies, equally, here in Canada and it is one of the reasons why Prime Minister Trudeau’s immigration policy proposals are right, in principle, even if they are wrong in the details.
Charles Kenny concludes his critique of the ongoing apparent appeasement of the Trump Party by saying that “Globalization has been imperfectly managed, and a new push for fairer global engagement should involve reforms, including better regulation of capital markets, limits on intellectual monopolies such as patents and copyrights, and cooperation on tax havens to ensure that corporations and rich individuals pay their share for public services … [all things with which, I suspect, neither I nor Stephen Harper would take serious issue, and he says] … Strong international agreements are urgently needed on issues such as climate change and data privacy. And a raft of domestic measures could increase both equality and productivity in the United States: tightening lax controls on market concentration, slashing limits to affordable housing in job-rich areas, reducing the barrier to entry that unnecessary licensing imposes on small businesses, reforming a banking system that bails out irresponsible institutional investors, and doing more to help Americans who lose their jobs, for whatever reason … [but, he concludes] … one thing that won’t help is for liberals to legitimize the backlash to globalization. Those who do so are useful patsies for Trump, allowing him to channel racial resentment into tax cuts for the rich. Responding to a group of people who think that white male Christians are discriminated against, or that the rest of the world getting richer is something for Americans to fear rather than celebrate, is admittedly hard. But whatever the reaction to the nativist rage of old white men, it cannot be appeasement.” That is, as John Ibbitson and I have both said is what Maxime Bernier seems to be trying to do … some people will respond to his “dog whistle” politics; the Conservative party of Canada is . better off without those people.