Showing posts from March 16, 2009

The great free-trade debate

Business Times - 17 Mar 2009

The great free-trade debate

A consensus is unravelling in Washington amid a Democratic clash over policy


PUNDITS tend to describe the debate over trade policy in the Democratic Party of the United States as an ideological clash between the left-oriented protectionist wing of the party (labour unions; environmentalists; anti-globalisation activists) and its more centrist and reformist pro-free trade forces.

But, in fact, whether a Democrat politician is in favour or against an activist global trade liberalisation agenda has less to do with ideology and more to do with class. It is a classic contest between the party's yuppies and its blue collars.

The yuppies represent the economically mobile and college-educated members of the party: Professionals from the large cities, especially in the East and West Coasts, who in addition to being more liberal on socio-cultural issues, such as abortion and gay rights, were also m…