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How Globalization Liquidated the Reagan Democrats

On Nov. 3, 1969, Richard Nixon, his presidency about to be broken by massive antiwar demonstrations, called on “the great silent majority” to stand by him for peace with honor in Vietnam.

They did. Within days Nixon’s approval surged to 68 percent. The ferocious Republican partisan of the 1950s had won over millions of Democrats.

Why? Because sons and brothers of those Democrats were doing much of the fighting in Vietnam. If Nixon was standing by them, they would stand by him.

In 1972 Nixon would win 49 states. Ronald Reagan, backed by his “Reagan Democrats,” would win 44- and 49-state landslides.

Yet since Reagan went home, Democrats have won the popular vote in five of six presidential elections. The New Majority is history. The Reagan Democrats have departed. What happened?

Answer: For a generation, when forced to choose between Middle America and corporate America, on NAFTA, most-favored nation for China, and free trade, the GOP establishment opted to go with the Fortune 500. In the GOP the corporate conservative rides up front; the social, cultural and patriotic conservatives in the back of the bus.

Consider who has benefited most from Republican-backed globalization.

Was it not corporate executives and transnational companies liberated from the land of their birth and the call of patriotism?

Under the rules of globalization, U.S. corporations could, without penalty or opprobrium, shut their factories, lay off their U.S. workers, erect new plants in Asia, produce their goods there, and bring them back free of any tariff to sell to consumers and kill the U.S. companies that elected to stay loyal to the U.S.A.

They then used the profits from abandoning America to raise executive salaries to seven and eight figures.

And how did the Reagan Democrats make out?

Real wages of U.S. workers have not risen for 40 years. One in three U.S. manufacturing jobs vanished between 2000 and 2010. The nation that used to produce 96 percent of all it consumed depends now on foreigners for the clothes and shoes we wear, the TV sets we watch, the radios we listen to, the computers we use, the cars we drive.

A nation that used to export twice what it imported has been running huge trade deficits for decades. China now holds $1 trillion in U.S. debt and can buy Smithfield hams out of the petty cash drawer.

With 50,000 U.S. factories closing in this new century, the greatest manufacturing power in history has been hollowed out, as Beijing booms at our expense. Corporate America is building the new China that is pushing Uncle Sam out of the western Pacific.

“Where did the ‘America’ in corporate America go?” asks Robert Patterson in National Review.

The Bush aide hearkens back to “Engine Charlie” Wilson, Ike’s first secretary of defense, who said, “For years I have thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors and vice versa.” Wilson’s words were twisted by a capitalist-baiting press, but he saw GM as first and foremost an American company.

Before Wilson there was William Knudson, the dollar-a-year man of FDR’s war effort who converted GM and Detroit into the great arsenal of democracy, a story movingly told by Arthur Herman in “Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II.”

“In the good old days,” writes Patterson, “Americans could at least count on business leaders being pro-American. Beloved or not, major corporations functioned as true stakeholders of America: fortifying American industry and building American factories, spreading American innovation, paying billions of dollars in American taxes and creating millions of high paying ‘family-wage’ jobs that helped create and sustain an expanding middle class.”

And today?

“No longer committed to a particular place, people, country or culture, our largest public companies have turned globalist, while abdicating the responsibility they once assumed to America and its workers.”

Citing Joel Kotkin’s work, Patterson adds, “the worst offenders are Apple, Facebook, Google, the high-tech firms secluded in Silicon Valley, a dreamland where the information age glitterati make Gilded Age plutocrats look bourgeois.”

Google has five times GM’s market capitalization but employs only one-fourth the number of GM’s American workers. Steve Jobs’ Apple has “700,000 industrial serfs” working overseas.

Since we bailed it out, GM has become “General Tso’s Motors,” creating 6,000 new jobs in China while shedding 78,000 U.S. jobs here.

Marco Rubio today leads Senate Republicans in doing the bidding of corporate America, which, in payback for its campaign contributions, wants amnesty for 12 million illegal aliens.

Agribusinesses need more peons. Restaurant chains want more waitresses, dishwashers, busboys. Construction companies want more ditch-diggers. Silicon Valley demands hundreds of thousands more H-1Bs—foreign graduate students who can be hired for half what an American engineer might need to support his family.

“Merchants have no country,” said Thomas Jefferson. “The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.”

Amen to that.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? [1]” Copyright 2013 Creators.com [2].

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#1 Comment By Fran Macadam On July 2, 2013 @ 7:08 am

This time, a Pat Buchanan commentary of indisputable fact.

Ironically, the Ike who prophetically warned of our democracy’s eventual capture by the military-industrial complex, employed former GM President Wilson as his secretary of war. War had been so profitable for American corporations during World War II that Wilson became an early advocate for a permanent state of war as a vehicle for permanent profits. War had been very good for contractor General Motors and so war was good for America, too. For Charlie Wilson’s War, America, once an agricultural nation, beat its ploughshares into swords.

With civilian product manufacturing now eviscerated, merchants of war make up an outsized and controlling portion of U.S. economy, along with their overfinancialized and speculative Wall Street backers, and thus an overwhelming influence on American governance. The war, security and surveillance policies they choose for America enrich them, while draining the financial and political health of America. The only American loyalty they have left, is to the American dollar, ironically profits that ought to be repaid to Americans, mostly offshored in places that give no benefit at all to us.

War, has become the health of these usurpers of the American state – but our disease.

Pat retells an American parable that resonates strongly with our old American sense of injustice demanding to be redressed.

We, the American people, have been relegated to riding squeezed ever tighter at the back of the bus, while rogue corporations steal our seats away. After another day of laboring against our own interests, like Rosa Parks, we are become just too tired to stay in the place these disloyal elites want us relegated to.

Yet unlike Rosa Parks whose example paved the way for a just boycott and non-violent rebellion that succeeded, our glib President finds himself unable to muster any resistance on our behalf, because, in his own words, “it would piss off too many powerful people.” This is precisely the lack of leadership that has caused conservative commentators like Jacob Heilbrunn and Rick Jensen to claim Obama has himself created Edward Snowden, by the vacuum of constitutional infidelity, that has sucked unlikely heroes like the whistleblower into the breach.

This commentary by Pat ought to be a manifesto for millions of ordinary Americans to defy the expectations the corporatists have diminished us to and step into the breach, ordinary heroes of an America far greater than the cosseted corner offices they seek to secretly misrule us from.

#2 Comment By Geoff Guth On July 2, 2013 @ 7:12 am

Sponsorship of corporate and mercantile interests has always been the bedrock of the GOP. And the Whigs and Federalists before them, for that matter.

Who pushed the ERA? Who cooperated with LBJ and northern liberal Democrats on civil rights? Who supported women’s suffrage? Heck, who fought the Civil War?

Now, who has led the fight for free trade with third world countries? Who has rabidly and fervently sought to roll back the power of unions? Who has consistently railed against the New Deal era programs that have benefited generations of working class Americans? Who crucified Americans on that infamous cross of gold? Heck, who was behind the First and Second Banks of the United States?

The reality is that the Republican party’s pro-business beliefs run incredibly deep, but its commitment to the other groups you mention, social and cultural conservatives was always a patina painted on to enlist the vote-turnout machine.

It should therefore be no surprise whatsoever that the GOP would turn its back on those groups the minute they ceased to be politically advantageous. These are, after all, businessmen who know how to run a cost-benefit analysis.

And frankly, sir, you’re the last person who should be shocked by all of this, as involved as you were in the rather cynical exploitation of opposition to the civil rights movement and the ’60s counterculture to create this coalition that’s now falling apart at the seams. I find it difficult to believe that you didn’t know exactly what you were getting into.

#3 Comment By Michael N Moore On July 2, 2013 @ 7:18 am

Pat is on point on this one. What makes it worse is that the transnational corporations and international hedge funds abandonment of America are resulting in political instability and ethnic conflict around the World.

Commerical nihilism is underming social structures and values that have sustained people for centuries by “relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

#4 Comment By Fran Macadam On July 2, 2013 @ 7:27 am

… should have been, “steal our seats away and raise our fares.”

#5 Comment By Sean Scallon On July 2, 2013 @ 8:52 am

I seem to recall Norman Mailer saying to Pat “The GOP will never nominate you. They’re the corporatist party.” Indeed this was true. They only this could have been avoided is if the GOP continued to cultivate labor unions the way they did in 1972 (especially the industrial unions) and gained access to their money as a rival source to all the other corporatists. Unfortunately, the 1974-75 recession and Watergate basically ended any chance of a permanent alliance. Reagan busted the air-traffic controller’s union even though PATCO had supported him in 1980. Industrial unions declined with industrialism the labor movement was ultimately going to be run by more leftists public sector unions. Thus by the time Pat ran for President in 1992 and ’96 there was nothing left of the old Nixon/Reagan coalition to run on.

#6 Comment By Egypt Steve On July 2, 2013 @ 9:12 am

It’s far more important to cut taxes further and ban abortion. Everything else will take care of itself.

#7 Comment By Ken T On July 2, 2013 @ 9:35 am

This column hits the bullseye.

This is the heart of the problem that is really destroying America. While the elites do everything they can to distract and divide the population with red herrings and strawmen, it is the globalised economy that is truly undermining American sovereignty. If we fail to retake control of our economy, it won’t matter one whit whether or not we allow abortion, or gay marriage, or smoking pot, or any other religious/social issue. It won’t matter whether or not Iran has a bomb, or whether Syria is ruled by Assad or by Al Qaida, or whether Georgia is friendlier with Russia or NATO. It’s not about liberals vs. conservatives, it’s about Americans vs. stateless corporations.

I have often said that middle- and working-class Americans — black or white, male or female, gay or straight, religious or atheist, from the most liberal to the most conservative, actually have far more in common with each other than with the elites who work to keep the rest of us divided; while they play entire nations off against each other in a race to the bottom.

#8 Comment By Frank Stain On July 2, 2013 @ 9:35 am

This is all right on the money, apart from the petty and mean-spirited comments about immigrants at the end.
Buchanan comes as close as any conservative here to recognizing what the Right has to acknowledge if it wants to be part of the solution today. Namely, that Reagan was a total, unmitigated disaster for the working class majority. ALL of the structural problems of our economy today stem from the Reagan years: unsustainable trade deficits, massive indebtedness of households and governments, foreign financing, dismantling of restraints on the financial sector (which caused the first savings and loan financial crises of the new era in the late eighties), regressive taxation policies that shifted income drastically towards the uber-wealthy.
If conservatives can bring themselves to recognize that Reagan was a complete disaster for the economic prospects of the majority, and we can all agree that every administration since then has been a variation on the same disastrous theme, we might just be able to come together and do something about it.

#9 Comment By VXXC On July 2, 2013 @ 9:37 am

“relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

Yes and the Dems statist machine and their lawyers don’t?

The CEO of CISCO said a couple of years ago he would bring 40,000 jobs back to America if they would lower the Corporate Tax rate. Which isn’t the only problem, or even the biggest one. The Biggest one is a nihilistic predatory government. 35% is not the problem, although there’s no reason to put up with it. The biggest problem is once you incorporate the money on American soil you may rely on a feeding frenzy of politicians, lawyers and activists to strip you bare. The Democratic party are predatory statist sharks with an ever increasing number of hungry mouths to feed. That’s their business, their power.

Pat shouldn’t let the Party of the Working Man off so easy. NAFTA became law under Clinton, as did GATT. Of course every time someone loses their job they go on welfare, so that’s a victory.

All the Republicans did was allow – with Democratic Leadership they merely helped – allow some victims to escape. I’m quite certain if the Criminal Regime in Beltway-istan ever falls, business will return to America.

Really if you hate someone insanely and make your living ruining them, you shouldn’t wonder that they flee you.

#10 Comment By Frank Stain On July 2, 2013 @ 10:21 am

VXXC said ‘The CEO of CISCO said a couple of years ago he would bring 40,000 jobs back to America if they would lower the Corporate Tax rate’.
I suspect this is typical smoke blowing since, on account of all the loopholes, corporations rarely pay more than a quarter of their profits in taxes. But the really telling statistic is that pre-tax AND after-tax corporate profits as a percentage of national income are at post-war highs: 13.6 and 11.4 percent in 2012. In the current economic climate, anybody complaining about corporate taxes and profits is simply trying to mislead people.

‘The Biggest one is a nihilistic predatory government.’
I completely agree with you that the democrats are an equal part of the problem. But describing people who are merely useless and self-interested as though they have an ideological agenda to increase welfare is falling for precisely the kind of tribalist politics that makes it impossible for the people to come together and solve their problems.
Look, at some point you are going to have to realize that the democrats are playing the same self-interested game as their opponents. They are all getting very rich playing the revolving door game in DC, they are all taking money and other handouts from the financial and corporate elite, and they are all placating the rest of us with tribal food fights. It isn’t going to stop until we stop falling for it.

#11 Comment By Derek Leaberry On July 2, 2013 @ 10:38 am

No other political party except perhaps the Tories of Britain regales in cutting the throats of their own supporters as do the Republicans. That’s why they are the stupid party.

#12 Comment By Tom Piatak On July 2, 2013 @ 10:40 am

An excellent column. Pat Buchanan has been right about this for decades.

#13 Comment By Ray S. On July 2, 2013 @ 10:42 am

One reason why Republicans are called the stupid party. Most of the CEO’s in Silicon are liberal Democrats. Likewise for most of Wall Street. Yet they do their bidding without hesitation.

#14 Comment By Jim Evans On July 2, 2013 @ 11:37 am

Yes, Pat is right.

But remember, the Democratic Leadership has also sold out American workers.

Both political parties’ leadership has been captured by corporate America.

And corporate America, particularly transnational, corporate America, is getting ever more dominate in influencing & controlling the U. S. government.

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” — Benito Mussolini

I’d say there is a hand-in-glove relationship now between government & corporations, i.e., Google and other corporations assisting the NSA in spying on Americans.

IBM developed, sold, and oversaw the ‘punch card’ system of tracking individuals sent to concentration camps in Nazi Germany.

Given the corporate assistance given the government for the creation of a ‘surveillance state’, is the U. S. travelling down the same road at slightly a slower pace?

If Republicans want to stay true to the Founding Fathers’ intent and the words & spirit of the Constitution, then this drift to Corporatism, aka, Fascism, must be stopped.

If patriotism & devotion to the Constitution isn’t enough of a reason, then as Pat writes, electoral necessity, should be the reason the Republican grass-roots reject this slide to untrammeled corporate/government power.

Fascism isn’t the road to a more perfect Union, the original reason for the formation of the Republican Party.

All the above is stated from a member of the Republican grass-roots… but for how much longer depends on the leadership of the Republican Party.

#15 Comment By Adam On July 2, 2013 @ 11:45 am

[3]

I don’t think I’d list Cisco as a beacon of virtue but the tax code does need to be revamped since it’s current form incentives the very actions that are taking place. Pat’s idea of tarriffs, even for so called American companies, is a good one as an incentive because it brings costs closer in line to make the decision to move overseas less attractive. That’s certainly one alternative. Another I might recommend is giving a higher write off for the pay of the average worker, incentivizing a tranference of production gains to the people that will spend the money. Today, the structure encourages debt financing, benefitting an already too large financial industry(more than double the historical GDP percentage), and production gain transfer to the investor class rather than the average worker. I prefer my transfer payments to be made prior to government intervention rather than having the government, which means tax payers, footing the bill.

#16 Comment By W.E.B. Dupree On July 2, 2013 @ 12:30 pm

“Google has five times GM’s market capitalization but employs only one-fourth the number of GM’s American workers.” This comparison goes a bit astray. Google and Facebook began as websites, not manufacturers. It is tough to imagine any scenario in which Google and Facebook could ever employ as many Americans as General Motors does (or once did) in union assembly line jobs, no matter what market capitalization they may have.

The Apple comparison is more fair, but it’s interesting that most of the companies called out by name in this column are California-based entities regarded as liberal. Mark Zuckerberg was probably in elementary school when NAFTA was signed. Citing Silicon Valley companies as the worst offenders on this topic seems misguided to me. These trends were all well underway before most of us had ever heard of the internet or sent an email.

#17 Comment By LauraNo On July 2, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

Amen, Pat. If conservatives didn’t knee-jerk oppose everything liberals say, they would have taken heed about all of this. We told them so! This is exactly what is meant by “republican voters vote against their own interests” (not to mention their fellowmen and their country).

#18 Comment By Myron Hudson On July 2, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

Great article. It’s heresy, though. In part, Pat is speaking against the Creators we are now required to worship.

#19 Comment By Ken S On July 2, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

Mr. Buchanan paints a grim picture. It’s time for people to realize that the idea of America (the American Dream if you will) is dead. The people of Egypt are rising up in great numbers to again overthrow their government. Due to brainwashing starting with our schools and now perfected by our corporate main street media, I do not believe that such an uprising can occur in the US. Occupy Wall Street was lame compared to what is happening in other countries. Pat ends with a quote from Jefferson. But it would be impossible for a man of character like old TJ to ever become president in a corporate controlled and dumbed down US. The crackup of the US that Pat predicted in “Suicide of a Superpower” is happening.

#20 Comment By Daniel F. Repovz On July 2, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

The sad fact is that the Republican House of Representatives under the leadership of Speaker Boehner didn’t even take up the Democratic Senate’s Chinese Currency Manipulation bill. It was the Democrats in the Senate with little or no Republican Senate Support who passed the bill to punish China for cheating on trade through Currency Manipulation, excessive government support, etc. which allows them to create an unfair competitive advantage over our goods. Speaker Boehner is from Cincinnati, I’m from Pittsburgh, if him and I were at Heinz Field on a fall Sunday and the Steelers were allowed to hold all day long while the Bengals had holding call on them. He would be outraged, in fact I think he would use his position as speaker to sanction the NFL. My response to this would be the neoconservative, wall street journal, steven moore, Arthur laffer response “Free Football” “Free Football” where there are no rules to be administered to ensure fair competition. China is free from holding calls, pass interfence because our primarily Republican politicans says “Free Trade” “Free Trade.” Yeah, China is free to cheat and destroy our industries, some Freedom.

#21 Comment By Marc On July 2, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

Consider who has benefited most from Republican-backed globalization.

Question: Who has benefitted the most from the availability of inexpensive goods and services from Latin America and Asia?

Answer: The lower income and middle classes

It is easy for wealthy and well to do people like Pat to attack international trade. They have enough disposable income where they can afford higher priced domestically produced goods and services. Low income and the middle class would have a lower standard of living if they have to pay significantly higher prices for their necessities and their luxury goods. Pat loves to attack international trade but like all politicians he fails to be upfront with people about the trade offs associated with his proposals. For example, what would be the cost of flat panel TVs, computers, cell/smart phones, clothes, shoes, housewares, ect if they were only produced domestically? How would people be better off if they could only purchase that low quality cars from GM, Ford, and Chrysler?

I know it is popular to rail against international trade and Walmart, but I see a lot of lower and middle income class people who have been able to “save more and live better.” Walmart and the affordable goods and services has done more good for the lower and middle income classes than all of Pat’s columns combined.

#22 Comment By Sean Scallon On July 2, 2013 @ 3:43 pm

“Low income and the middle class would have a lower standard of living if they have to pay significantly higher prices for their necessities and their luxury goods”

If we still had high tariffs and industrial unionization perhaps workers could afford such necessities and luxury good. They did before.

#23 Comment By Jim Evans On July 2, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

Marc, to buy those items, you need a job… unless the government provides that purchasing power.

Republicans, rightly so, don’t look to dependency on government.

They look to a healthy private economy where currency flows at all levels of society acting as a medium of exchange for all nature of goods & services.

An economy actively building productivity with plentiful jobs.

You know, the American Dream.

Your “free” trade is costing America it independence and Americans their dignity.

Come back to me when unemployment is 5% and wages are rising and less people are in poverty and less people are on the government dole.

Take a look around, does America look in great shape?

#24 Comment By WorkingClass On July 2, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

The Democratic Party was never a Labor Party but it had a working relationship with Labor until Bill Clinton and the “New” Democrats gave us NAFTA. The gutting of American power and prosperity for the enrichment of the Oligarchy was a bi-partisan project. I say was because the theft is nearly complete. The United States is well on its way to the third world. And I blame the Democrats because it was they that turned. The Republicans were just doing what comes naturally.

A two party system is a fatal flaw. Just one step away from single party rule.

#25 Comment By Ken S On July 2, 2013 @ 7:05 pm

@Marc: I think you are ignoring the other side of the equation. Lower income people have lost the factory jobs that used to provide middle class incomes. Therefore, although they may be paying somewhat less to shop at Walmart, it is more than offset by the wages they can no longer earn. Many young (and older) people are now relegated to working in low paid retail jobs because the better paid jobs in industry are no longer there.

#26 Comment By EliteCommInc. On July 2, 2013 @ 7:44 pm

No issues,

Mr. Buchanan, no issues.

. . .

#27 Comment By Chris in Appalachia On July 2, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

This article reminds me of how this 4th of July, while I am surrounded by clueless pseudo-patriots shouting, “I love America,” I will be whispering to myself, “I MISS America,” because that wonderful nation that I grew up in has nearly morphed into something else.

#28 Comment By Fran Macadam On July 3, 2013 @ 1:13 am

A true apprehension of our situation this July 4th would require flying our flag half-mast in sorrow for what has been lost – and upside down, given our constitutional distress.

#29 Comment By Daniel DiFabio On August 5, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

Marc, people can not afford to shop at WalMart, if they are jobless. This column is another gem from Patrick Buchanan.