A Democratic Debate That Ignores China and Trade Isn’t Much of a Debate


The core of Trumponomics is a protectionist trade policy built on tariffs, both threatened and implemented. All of America’s largest trading partners, including allies, have been in President Trump sights. And as the president gets ready to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, some analysts are wondering whether the entire US-China trading relationship will fall victim to a New Cold War.

But “trade” ⁠—⁠ in its economic context ⁠—⁠ was mentioned only once in last night’s Democratic presidential debate. And “China” was only mentioned a half dozen times, with four of those mentions in a rapid-fire round where candidates were asked to briefly mention the “greatest geopolitical threat” to America. Don’t blame the NBC moderators. Candidates had ample opportunity to explore the US-China trade conflict and more broadly China’s challenge to US superpower supremacy.

Maybe their failure to do so was political strategy. Or maybe it’s because they don’t know quite what to say. Progressives and socialists are no fans of free trade ⁠—⁠ since, you know, free trade is market capitalism is action ⁠—⁠ and the energy in the Democratic Party is on the left.

One obvious counter to the Trump trade policy would be to advocate a return to the Pacific trade deal. But The Atlantic magazine reports that it asked 23 Democratic presidential candidates whether they support [the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Trump pulled the US out of] and “would want to restart negotiations if elected.” Only one, Rep. John Delaney of Maryland gave a firm “yes.” This should be a wake-up call to Corporate America if it thinks reflexive Democratic opposition to all things Trump means the Democratic Party is now the party of free trade. One wonders if some of those ambitious 2020 Democrats regret that Trump got to tariffs before they did. Even so, the candidates need to tell voters what they want to do about China (More tariffs? Different tariffs? Ban Chinese tech firms in some fashion?) ⁠and what the consequences of those actions ⁠—⁠ the costs and benefits ⁠—⁠ might be.

Published in Economics, Politics
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  1. DonG Coolidge

    In the part where they got one word to describe the greatest threat to America, China ranked 3rd behind Climate Change and Donald Trump. 

    • #1
  2. DrewInWisconsin Member

    You can’t fool me! Globalists aren’t concerned about China!

    • #2
  3. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron


    The greatest threat to the global economy is the globalist. They live in their magical transnational dreamworld. No need to be concerned with individual nations and no need to be concerned with individual human beings. One world, one state, and one model of the new human. Wait a minute. Wasn’t that what they believed the last time when they killed 65 million people.

    Don’t worry it can’t happen again just the same way. This time with all the great new technology I’m quite sure they could kill half a billion. Pleasant dreams.




    • #3
  4. TempTime Member

    James Pethokoukis: But “trade” ⁠—⁠ in its economic context ⁠—⁠ was mentioned only once in last night’s Democratic presidential debate


    Not only was debate on that topic missing, but I did not see any American flags present either.

    • #4
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