American Workers Have Somewhere Else to Go

Thomas FrankExistential is a big word… I would use the word “historical.” It’s simpler. But the Democratic Party has been changing for a long time, and by the way, this is important when you’re talking about where they’re going to go because historical changes don’t just happen on a dime. They don’t just happen overnight. But the party that I grew up with and that I remember from the 1970s — Democrats have been drifting away from that for a very long time. And Hillary Clinton — Neera [Tanden] is absolutely right. On paper, she looked really excellent. The things she was saying were the right things to be saying, and she wasn’t able to make that sale.

Now, Trump — he’s done one massively important thing in this race, and that was when he went against the Republican Party stance on free trade. For decades in this city, Democrats and Republicans have had this kind of consensus on the trade issues. It was Democrats that got NAFTA. It was Barack Obama that was campaigning for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It was Republicans that originally negotiated NAFTA. This was a consensus arrangement, and because it was a consensus arrangement, it allowed Democrats to do things like to get NAFTA passed and then go to organized labor — who were very bitter about that and are bitter to this day when you talk to them — and say, “You’ve got nowhere else to go.” If you go back and research the Bill Clinton era, this was a very common saying in Washington in the 1990s. Trump completely changed that dynamic. All of a sudden, these people did have somewhere to go, and it was kind of a genius move. But it’s not clear that he understands what he did or that the Democrats are going to play along with it.

–Thomas Frank
Everything Feels Relatively Existential Now

Leave a Reply