Thursday, December 1, 2016
What Makes America Great?
Donald Trump won an election by promising to make America great again. He claimed that only he could make America great again because he was a master deal maker. He would negotiate individual deals with our trading partners that satisfy his criteria for a good deal. That is, I win, you lose. This is in stark contrast to a speech given by John Kennedy that is still presented to graduates of Harvard's Kennedy School Of Government. The Kennedy graduates are always moved by that speech. They would not be moved by Trump's vision of a great America. Kennedy had a vision of a world in which shared values, led by American ideals, would make everyone better off. Trump's America first vision rejects the ideal of world that is made better off by America's global leadership. It is a sum zero vision in which America only wins when one of our partners loses. There is no place in his vision for America's role in building a better world around a set of shared values in which America sets a good example. Trump's vision will accelerate the move towards a selfish nationalism in which competition between nations leads to a race to the bottom. Kennedy offered a vision in which every nation was engaged in a race to the top. That may be old fashioned in world in which states in our country compete with each other for jobs and resources. The rust belt states have seen many of their jobs move to lower wage states that also promise lower taxes and less regulation to corporate "clients".