peaking at the Whirlpool Manufacturing Plant in Clyde, Ohio, on Thursday, President Donald Trump once again articulated the guiding principle of his administration: “The duty of a president is to put this nation’s own citizens first. That’s why my administration swears by two simple, but crucial rules, buy American and hire American.” His twilight struggle with the Democrats over the future of the nation, or whether the nation will even have a future at all, is coming down to the question of whether that principle will be upheld and defended, or consigned forever to the dustbin of history.
Trump drew the battle lines sharply at Whirlpool, charging that “on the question of foreign trade, previous leaders were guided by a shameful policy of capitulation, submission, and retreat…. For decades, you watched as politicians let foreign nations steal our jobs, loot our factories, and plunder the crown jewels of the US economy….For eight years, Whirlpool begged the Obama-Biden administration who did nothing to protect American workers from the flagrant dumping of foreign washers, dryers into America. But your cries for help fell on deaf ears. You didn’t see any action. They didn’t act, they didn’t care, and they never will.”
They didn’t care because they were among the beneficiaries of the pole-axing of American workers and the outsourcing of American industries. And it has been known for decades. That noted economist Sid Vicious sang back in 1977 about “a cheap holiday in other people’s misery,” and the leftist establishment moved quickly from cheap holidays in other people’s misery to cheap labor in other people’s misery. The labor is cheaper outside the United States, so American workers had to lose their jobs to provide low prices for rich and powerful socialist internationalists. Another farsighted economist, Bob Dylan, noticed this in 1983, singing about a woman in Brazil crafting furniture for import into the United States and “bringin’ home thirty cents a day to a family of twelve, you know, that’s a lot of money to her.”
This has been a struggle for practically as long as there has been a United States. The new book Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster details how the struggle between advocates of free trade and the supporters of high tariffs has been the key element of numerous presidential elections, including that of 1888, when the Republican platform declared: “We are uncompromisingly in favor of the American system of protection. We protest against its destruction, as proposed by the President and his party. They serve the interests of Europe; we will support the interests of America.” Republican marchers held aloft banners saying that Democratic candidate Grover “Cleveland Runs Well in England” and “We Are Not Going to Vote Away Our Wages.” They argued that lowering tariffs would mean the end of American prosperity. Although the Republican candidate Benjamin Harrison won the election, this message didn’t exactly resonate with the American voter, who was also hearing from the Democrats that low tariffs would mean low prices.