Manufacturing jobs, long thought to be on permanent ebb in the U.S., are coming back. Donald Trump is to blame.
Donald Trump gets plenty of blame in the press: Rarely does he get any credit.
There are those among his critics who believe that any good President Trump may do for the American people is overshadowed by his conduct, which they argue is unpresidential at best.
They may be right. U.S. voters will no doubt weigh-in on this question come November.
There are others among Donald Trump’s most out-spoken critics who argue that no, in fact, Donald Trump has never done anything good as President.
They are wrong.
As former President Barack Obama recently chastised the young and “woke”, in real life there is more than a fair amount of ambiguity.
Great things, Obama declared, have been achieved throughout history by highly imperfect people, many of whom one would not wish to have for a houseguest.
Seeing the world as black and white- Donald Trump evil, Democrats good or visa versa- is a misleading vantage point on the best of days.
It is with this ambiguity in mind that progressive liberals should take a long, hard look at the manufacturing gains that have much benefitted working class people Democrats still claim to represent.
Democrats have long claimed to represent the working class even as the balance has shifted over the past decade so that Democrats now control 27 of the wealthiest 30 districts in America.
Democrats now share the poorest 30 equally with Republicans.
Paying attention to these manufacturing gains might help Democrats wishing to be elected President in Trump’s stead in 2020 understand better how to communicate with, and better still, help, those in the Rust Belt states who feel left-behind by the Democratic Party.
These states were neglected by Democrats in 2016, to great cost. They are being neglected again as Democrats turn a blind eye to small towns returning to life and small businesses downtown and on Main Street hiring again.
The message Democrats should be sending these voters isn’t that Donald Trump is evil incarnate, a Russian asset, a murdering rapist or anything of the sort.
Democrats should be telling American manufacturing workers that anything Donald Trump can do, they can do better.
Currently, Democrats are having a difficult time ignoring the return of American manufacturing. This situation is likely to get worse.
For the first time in recent memory, if ever, Apple products are going to be made in the U.S.A. In Texas, to be exact.
If this weren’t news enough, the luxury handbag label Louis Vuitton has also opened a new factory in Texas and will be made in the U.S.A.
As far back as most people buying the expensive bags can remember, these items have been made in a Slavic or East Asian country, where labor is far cheaper and the regulatory environment more friendly to businesses.
Moving manufacturing operations to the United States is a savvy move on the part of U.S. company power-brokers, like Apple’s Tim Cook. In the Information Age, responsible consumers are demanding more from the companies they buy from, including more transparency in their practices and ethical considerations in their manufacturing processes.
The U.S., of course, has far higher standards for worker compensation and safety than many places where labor is cheaper.
While Trump’s trade stand-offs and tariff wars with other countries have likely held back this growth in the short-term, dealing with long-standing trade imbalances between the U.S. and other nations is likely to yield even better results in the long-term.
For instance, it is well known in the business and international communities that China has been engaged in unfair trade practices for decades, stealing technology, engaging in corporate espionage and other underhanded tactics designed to cheat U.S. businesses.
In addition, some of the trade agreements, like NAFTA in particular, were long-outdated and in need of renegotiation. Some trade agreements weren’t that great for America to begin with.
From the beginning of his campaign, Donald Trump pledged to stand up for America, for its citizens, its companies and its workforce. He never promised to be polite on Twitter.
Democrats overly focused on Trump’s sometimes boorish behavior on social media should remember that only 7% of Americans bother with Twitter at all.
But most American workers in the Rust Belt, the Bible Belt and everywhere in between are noticing the “now hiring” signs everywhere.
People purchasing Apple or Louis Vuitton products will notice the “Made in the USA” label.
Democrats should also bear in mind that while they divide all their precious eggs between the impeachment and Joe Biden baskets, Trump has a dozen or so other irons in the trade fire that the media aren’t discussing much.
The USMCA, Trump’s renegotiated NAFTA, awaits ratification in the House and Speaker Pelosi has signaled her support. Once it clears the House, the USMCA is likely to create another 176,000 jobs and add $68.2 billion to the U.S. economy, with a corresponding rise in wages.
Fracking may have stimulated part of the upsurge in growth across some sectors. The Democratic desire to see it end does not fill American workers benefiting from the technology with confidence.
Trump may seem ham-fisted on China- and it certainly is a delicate international situation considering the unrest in Hong Kong and America’s avowed sympathy for its Democratic aims- but his unwillingness to accept a bad deal is the right move.
Whether Trump will manage to close any of his pending trade deals and negotiations before Election Day 2020, is anyone’s guess.
But ignoring the U.S. manufacturing gains- and how Trump’s “America First” attitude has driven them- will hurt Democrats at the ballot box.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)