It has been said that “the job of an opposition is to oppose” and when it comes to the Democratic Party of the United States, the figure of Donald Trump has become a linchpin for a breathtakingly wide range Democratic ire. While Trump is one of the most volatile leaders in recent US history, it does seem that even in the moments where Trump does something objectively positive such as de-escalating tensions with the DPRK, the Democrats were there to offer their opposition.
And yet when it comes to Trump’s most inflammatory, controversial, nationally and internationally self-harming, economically obscurantist, geopolitically destabilising and now violent policy – his trade war, the Democratic opposition are nowhere to be seen. Thus far, Trump’s trade war has caused General Motors to shut four of its American factories while Ford has threatened to do much the same. Thousands of jobs are directly at risk as a result, while potentially tens of thousands of jobs are indirectly at risk as a result. Trump’s trade war has likewise devastated American farmers who are now being subsidised by the tax payer to let their crops rot because they’ve lost access to their once lucrative Chinese customer base. Meanwhile, the last two weeks alone have seen dramatic loses across the US stock markets as both major industrial companies as well as tech companies lose money due to negative speculation regarding Trump’s tendencies to pursue a habitually reckless and manic trade policy towards China. Now as a further direct result of Trump’s disastrous trade policy, an innocent mother of four has been kidnapped and spent eleven days in prison while being denied access to proper medical care.
For a Democratic party that seeks to spend the next two years solidifying gains in the House of Representatives while also looking to take both the Senate and White House in the 2020 elections, one would think that the horror show that is the trade war would inspire Democratic leaders to offer a clear opposition to the US leader’s recklessness. Instead, the Democrats remain largely silent as the trade war devastates US industry, US agriculture, the affordability of goods for the ordinary consumer, small businesses who rely on supplies from China and multiple currencies across the world including in the economies of traditional US allies.
Just what are the Democrats thinking? After all, in the 1992 election, an upstart Bill Clinton defeated the incumbent George H.W. Bush largely by offering a more sympathetic view on the plight of Americans who were still feeling the negative effects of a recession that the White House was trying to claim was over. Clinton’s strategy was summarised by his adviser at the time James Carville as “it’s the economy, stupid!” If one is to judge the current crop of Democrats by Carville’s maxim – they are incredibly stupid.
Today, while the overall US economy is in better shape than it was in the early 1990s, the trade war has begun taking a heavy toll on crucial sectors of the US economy from factory jobs to stock prices and the livelihood of hundreds of farmers. And yet while Trump continues to glorify the still unrealised supposed “benefits” of protectionism, the Democrats are totally ignoring this vital economic issue. This goes both for the so-called moderate wing of the party as characterised by Nancy Pelosi as well as the more radical Bernie Sanders wing of the party. Neither faction is discussing trade while they ought to be discussing the matter loudly, clearly and frequently.
It is nothing short of negligent that when it comes to the issue which most directly effects the economic welfare of ordinary Americans as well as overall global stability and therefore security, that the otherwise outspoken opposition party in US politics has become deaf, dumb and blind. While it might be “easier” for less intellectually able politicians to discuss issues like Trump allegedly paying a harlot to keep her mouth shut about a carnal encounter than to discuss why the policies of economic protectionism are harmful to both the US and its partners, a proper opposition has a duty to address the crucial issues of the day. If the current Democratic leadership is incapable of clearly discussing and opposing the trade war, they are clearly not fit for purpose as a political party as they have violated the elements of the unwritten social contract which mandate that an opposition holds political leadership to account when it is clearly taking a country down a road to ruin.
Alas, it seems that while Trump’s trade war is the economic equivalent of a bull breaking up a china shop, the shopkeepers that in this instance ought to be a responsible and attentive political opposition have gone fishing. In other words, when it comes to the most central issue impacting the United States today – the Democratic party is utterly useless.