The Wall Street Journal has a good piece on how the Democrats are embracing the legacy of Herbert Hoover.
One of the few things I’ll give Clinton credit for are his trade policies. Clinton signed NAFTA, helped create the World Trade Organization, and helped foster increasing free trade worldwide. In some ways, Clinton’s record on trade beats that of Bush who’s protectionist pandering for steel industry votes put the US on the wrong side of the WTO’s rules against protectionism.
However, the current crop of Democratic candidates, with the exception of Joe Liberman, are all embracing a trade policy that is harmful to the 20% of American jobs that are dependent on trade, and would be devastating to the Third World.
The Democrats insist they don’t oppose free trade but only that any new trade agreements must have "labor and environmental standards" written into them. Dr. Dean has told several interviewers that he would withdraw from the World Trade Organization and Nafta if they weren’t altered to ensure that foreign workers have "the same labor laws and labor standards and environmental standards" as the U.S.
But this is a recipe for precisely the kind of U.S. unilateralism they claim to deplore in the Bush Administration. Not many other countries are pleased to import another country’s labor laws. Poor countries with low wages especially resent the forced imposition of U.S. rules that assume a far higher standard of living.
This is a good point. The Democrats decry US "imperialism" and blame US policy for creating poverty worldwide, yet they advocate an imperialistic enforcement of impossible standards on the Third World that would engender more poverty and more instability in developing countries. For all the talk of US unilateralism, the fact that the Democrats advocate breaking our commitment to NAFTA and the WTO is a clear double standard.
For all the talk about the Democrats being the "progressive" party, their trade polices are simply regressive – an atavistic throwback to the bad old days of Herbert Hoover and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. Like the 1920’s it is a policy that would turn a worldwide recession into a worldwide depression.