Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren lead as the most progressive candidates in a crowded field of diverse politicians in the Democratic Primary Race. Currently polling as runner-ups behind Joe Biden, the two candidates’ stances on anti-corruption in politics, pharmaceutical industries, and multinational trading corporations has evidently resonated with the American people. Behind their stances are the average working Americans whose freedom they seek to defend; the freedom to prosper within a rigged economy. However, despite their Never Trumper rhetoric and popular progressive positions, Warren and Sanders trade policies align with President Trump more than any other Democratic candidate.
The Trump Administration has plunged the U.S in a trade war with China that has increased prices on goods and created inaccessible exports markets for farmers, hurting their income. Many economists have stated that because of these new protectionist policies, the long term effects could entail a significant global economic slowdown. In response to the threat of a U.S recession, the stock market has had recent significant drops that it is now currently recovering from. Rather than adopting the Trumpian nationalist approach (the idea that China is ripping off the U.S), Sanders and Warren have different objections to free trade. The two have asserted that free trade is dominated by multinational trading corporations that exploit their workers, harm the environment, and only benefit other big industries. While to some degree trade policies facilitate these three things, the overwhelming positive outcomes are overlooked. The laborer, whom they claim is exploited, is also an American consumer whose wages don’t mean anything if they can’t afford consumer goods. The truth is that nearly every reputable economist agrees that free trade is necessary for the production of goods and promotes positive international relations. The rhetoric that multinational companies dominating trade is something that is negative, is plain silly. If trade policies were entirely up to politicians, American businesses, who understand the procedure best, would be limited from engaging in exchanges that best promote the production and importation of goods. It could be comparable to a national athletic organization deciding the NFL’s team recruitment policies (which teams they are allowed to trade players with) when football corporations understand what is most beneficial for their teams, and thus entertainment for every football watcher.
That isn’t to say however, that some multinational corporations don’t tailor policies that would enable them to profit off of exploited workers and outsource jobs. This should be handled as a cause for reform, not for protectionism or scapegoating free trade in and of itself. Other than reasons mentioned above for why, it is also true that free trade can serve to democratize trading partners. By lowering the prices of goods, free trade helps disincentivize companies to pay their workers low amounts. On the political side of it, good trade relations help form alliances that can lead to progressive outcomes. When countries become mutual beneficiaries of one another, it opens doors to preconditions in trade agreements that would limit economic and environmental harmful policies.
Nearly 84% of Democrats support international free trade, an opinion which is in alignment with most expert economists. This means if Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren seek to be the most electably viable, they ought to refrain from taking anti-free trade positions. Free trade benefits American businesses, workers, and consumers alike and is a necessary aspect of a healthy global economy. If the ideal image of Sanders and Warren is to become fully progressive, it follows naturally that they would embrace a reformative free trade policy.