Obama and Romney Both Love Free Trade

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Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are doing their best to paint each other as enemies of the American worker, eagerly shipping jobs overseas for either political or financial gain. Does this represent an actual dislike of free trade by the two candidates? Should free traders be trembling at what the next four years will bring? I think Dan Drezner has the beginnings of wisdom here as he struggles to contain his nausea:

Mario Cuomo once said “You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.”….To update his observation for our current needs, we can say, “You campaign as a mercantilist; you govern as a free-trader.”

….As stomach-churning as I find this kind of ad, I must reluctantly agree [] that it doesn’t matter all that much for governing. Even this Washington Post story that talks about Obama’s “rethinking” of free trade doesn’t really deliver the goods on significant policy shifts. And it appears that even the Chinese government recognizes campaign bluster for what it is.

So — to repeat a theme — I don’t think the mercantilist campaign rhetoric will amount to much.

Agreed. China-bashing is a perennial topic among presidential candidates, but it never amounts to much. It just makes for good stump speeches. Ditto for trade-bashing. Obama and Hillary Clinton both swore mighty oaths that they hated NAFTA back when they were competing for blue-collar votes in the 2008 Ohio primary, and then never mentioned NAFTA again after election day. As with China-bashing, it’s good red meat for the masses, but means nothing.

The current round of outsourcing/offshoring speechifying is similarly meaningless. It’s good campaign fodder, but Obama and Romney will both follow fairly traditional trade policies over the next four years regardless of what they say now. If you’re a fan of trade agreements, you should just turn down the volume on your TV set for the next few months and not worry about things. None of it matters.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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