One of the principal planks of Trumpism is economic nationalism. And one of the principal planks of today’s “Progressives” is opposition to Trumpism. (“Progressives,” of course, are not the only people who oppose Trumpism. I, for example, oppose it – and I’m no “Progressive.” But “Progressives,” to a person, are apoplectic at the very thought of Trump and Trumpism.)
Here’s an irony: many “Progressives” are also “buy local” enthusiasts. Not all “Progressives” swoon at the thought of buying the likes of locally butchered beef and locally (and “artisanally”) crafted patio furniture – not all “Progressives” advocate “keeping dollars in the local community” – but a large number of “Progressives” romanticize the local economy and fancy themselves to be cutting-edge and enlightened for advocating “buying local.” So I’ve some questions for such “Progressives”: Do you think that Trump’s economic nationalism is too cosmopolitan? If you’re put-off, as you should be, by Trump’s (and Steve Bannon’s, and Peter Navarro’s) economically uninformed and bigotry-tinged skepticism of Americans trading with non-Americans, how do you justify your own skepticism of, say, Portlanders trading with non-Portlanders and Ithacans trading with non-Ithacans? If it is bigoted (as it is) for Americans to be willing to inflict economic harm on non-Americans by restricting Americans’ trade with non-Americans, why is it enlightened to be willing to inflict economic harm on people outside of the local community by advocating that locals restrict their trade with people outside of the local community? If it is economically misguided (as it is) to suppose that Americans make themselves more prosperous by restricting their trade with non-Americans, why is it economically informed to suppose that, say, Bozemanites make themselves more prosperous by restricting their trade with non-Bozemanites? If it is small-minded and reactionary for Americans to think themselves to be special and, on this basis, to champion trade policies that encourage Americans to trade only with fellow Americans, why is it broad-minded and progressive for, say, Palo Altans to think themselves to be special and, on this basis, to champion trade policies that encourage Palo Altans to trade only with fellow Palo Altans?
Again, I’m aware that not all “Progressives” are stricken with the “buy-local” fever. I’m aware, too, that a not-insignificant number of “Progressives” reject open global markets and endorse trade policies that are virtually indistinguishable from those endorsed by Trump and his troupe of ignorant economic nationalists. And I’m aware that among those who are stricken with the “buy-local” fever are some conservatives. But it nevertheless seems to me that most “buy-local” enthusiasts are indeed in the camp of modern “Progressives” – “Progressives” who understandably cringe at the bigotry, tribalism, small-mindedness, and abject ignorance that are daily displayed by Trump and his team, but who simultaneously applaud and endorse the “buy-local” movement.