Both parties have abandoned free trade

Whoever gets elected president will oppose free trade.  In fact, both parties are rivaling each other in condemning trade agreements such as NAFTA (which forms a common market with Canada and Mexico) and the not-yet-ratified TPP (which eases trade with Australia and Asian countries other than China).

Such a turnabout is astonishing, since Republicans have long championed free markets and Democrats have come around to agree with them.  Credit, or blame, for this new stance goes to the popularity of Donald Trump, who has roused the masses against American industries moving factories and jobs overseas and American products being driven out by cheaper imports.

I can see the appeal of a self-contained national economy, but getting there would seem to involve some dangerous tradeoffs.  If we erect trade barriers such as high tariffs and our trading partners retaliate, won’t that be economically disastrous?  American companies will suddenly lose a major part of their markets.  Prices for consumers will skyrocket.  After awhile, maybe new companies would take up the slack, but, in the short term at least, wouldn’t this cause recession and even more unemployment?

This is not my field, so I am open to instruction. [Read more…]

As Republicans veer left, Democrats veer right

At the Republican convention, Donald Trump and company invoked what have traditionally been Democratic themes:  quoting dubious statistics about how women earn less than men do; opposing free trade; wanting to regulate capitalism; claiming workers are oppressed; cheering gay rights; promising no more war, etc.

The Democratic convention has done the reverse, invoking what are usually Republican themes:  support for the military; character; “USA” cheers; aggressive foreign policy; “faith, family, & values” rhetoric (to use a Tim Kaine phrase).

Read what William Saletan says about this at Slate, excerpted and linked after the jump.

Are the parties just trying to reach out to the disaffected members of the other side?  Is this just the old tactic of playing to your base in the primaries, then going to the center in the general election?  Or does it represent a shift for both parties, heralding some ideological changes on both sides? [Read more…]

The plight of religious traditionalists

Rachel Lu has written an important essay for National Review on the plight of religious traditionalists.  Donald Trump, she observes, has no interest in religious liberty issues or “fake culture war” causes that traditionalists care about.  And Republicans planning a post-Trump party are going the way of “fiscally conservative but socially liberal.”  And progressives, of course, can’t stand conservative religion.  So both political parties want to disassociate themselves from religious traditionalists.

And yet, she says, despite the efforts to marginalize religious conservatives, they have some cards to play. [Read more…]

The new Supreme Court nominee

President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to take the late Antonin Scalia’s slot on the Supreme Court.  Garland is a well-regarded Appeals Court judge, clearly well-qualified and with a reputation for moderation.

Republicans in Congress are refusing to even consider him, insisting that any appointment should wait until after the presidential election.

But couldn’t we expect Hillary Clinton to nominate someone even more liberal?  And who would Trump nominate?  His pro-abortion sister, as he said he might?  Also, pundits are now saying that there is now a good chance that in an anti-Trump landslide Republicans might lose the Senate.  Republicans might do a lot worse than Garland.

Obama is obviously proposing Garland as a safe choice and a way to coax Republicans into allowing him his appointment.  And to look pettily partisan if they oppose a well-qualified candidate with the full panoply of opposition research and personal attacks, as is planned.

Republicans should just praise the nominee but stand on the principle of letting the next president choose.

[Read more…]

Democrats don’t trust the government either

A Pew Research study of people’s attitude towards the government has found that 89% of Republicans seldom trust the government.  But neither do 72% of Democrats.

Back in 1958, a similar study found that three-quarters of Americans did trust their government.  What happened since then, that both liberals and conservatives have become disenchanted with their government?  Has the government changed that much, or have Americans become more savvy about their leaders?  [Read more…]

Should we continue the Syrian immigration program?

The United States has committed to accepting 10,000 immigrants from Syria.  That’s far less than the European nations are faced with, but the attack on Paris has many Americans calling for a halt to that program.  To be sure, most of the immigrants are fleeing ISIS, but ISIS has boasted that it will mingle with the immigrants as a way to invade the west.  Stringent screening is supposedly in place in the U.S., but people are nervous.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has called for a “pause” in the settlement of refugees here.  The GOP presidential candidates are agreeing (except for Jeb Bush).  Twenty-six mostly Republican governors have asked that Syrian refugees not be settled in their states (though they have no authority to stop it).  Republican congressmen are introducing bills to stop the immigration.  One idea being put forward is to settle only Christians, who certainly are fleeing persecution, but the administration is indignant at the prospect of “religious tests.”

What is your opinion?  Are Republicans falling into the Democrats’ stereotype that they are mean and lacking in compassion?  Or are their proposals simple prudence?  What do we Christians do with the teachings in Scripture that we should welcome “the aliens”?  Does that apply here? [Read more…]