Friday, July 1, 2016

Open Borders vs. Closed

David Brooks wonders if the old left-right divide in America, focused on the size of government, is about to be replaced by a new divide between globalizers and America-firsters, and whether Donald Trump might be the prophet of this shift:
Trump’s only hope is to change the debate from size of government to open/closed. His only hope is to cast his opponents as the right-left establishment that supports open borders, free trade, cosmopolitan culture and global intervention. He would stand as a right-left populist who supports closed borders, trade barriers, local and nationalistic culture and an America First foreign policy.

In an age of anxiety, that closed posture might have a shot at winning. On trade, for example, 60 percent of Republicans, 49 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of independents believe that trade agreements are mostly harmful. . . .

The old size-of-government question was growing increasingly archaic and obsolete. In country after country the main battle lines of debate are evolving toward the open/closed framework.

If you don’t like our current political polarization, wait 10 years. One way or another it will go away. When the frame of debate shifts to open/closed, sometime soon, the old coalitions will smash apart and new ones will form. Politics will be unrecognizable. . . .

The prophets of closedness will argue that the problem is trade. The prophets of openness will argue that we need the dynamism that free trade brings. We just need to be more aggressive in equipping people to thrive in that dynamic landscape. If facts still matter in this debate — and I’m not sure they do — the proponents of openness are massively right.
As I was just writing the other day, I see this same divide becoming more and more prominent. But I doubt there is really enough support in America to build a political coalition around anti-globalization. Cultural issues like race, gay rights, and abortion will make it very hard for Bernie Sanders supporters to support anyone who can rally Trump's supporters, and vice versa. I do think that open or closed borders is one of the most important issues we face, but it just doesn't align well enough with the emotional postures that define liberals and conservatives to serve as the defining creed for political parties.

1 comment:

szopen said...

"Globalisation" vs "nativism" was a theme in alt-right blogs for at least a year (since I started read some of them - and that issue was already treated as something obvious), so Brooks is late-comer to the debate, it seems.