Obama Rips Trump’s ‘Crude Populism’
In an essay published in The Economist, President Obama warned Americans of the dangers of nationalism, citing previous eras of populism in the nation’s history.
The Hill reports:
President Obama blasted Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s worldview in an essay published Thursday in The Economist.
Without mentioning Trump by name, Obama rejected a “crude populism” while defending his vision of an American economy that embraces trade and technological innovation.
Obama wrote that many world leaders are wondering how a country like the U.S., which has benefitted from trade, immigration and technology, “suddenly developed a strain of anti-immigrant, anti-innovation protectionism.”
The president tied the current nationalist fervor, espoused by Trump, to the “nativist lurches” of the past, including the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Know-Nothings and discrimination against Asian workers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“Americans were told they could restore past glory if they just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control,” Obama said. “We overcame those fears and we will again.”
Obama warned that world leaders can’t afford to write off “discontent” at home and abroad that is “rooted in legitimate concerns about long-term economic forces,” including income inequality and job displacement caused by globalization.
But the president rejected populist notions that the U.S. should pull back from the world by cutting off trade and increasing tariffs or by “breaking up all the biggest banks” — an idea backed by liberals such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
“The economy is not an abstraction,” Obama wrote. “It cannot simply be redesigned wholesale and put back together again without real consequences for real people.”
Instead, he argued for domestic policies such as higher taxes on the wealthy, expanded unionization and better job-training programs that narrow income gaps and help workers find better-paying jobs in a modern economy.
Obama also pushed Congress to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which is opposed by Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, arguing it “will level the playing field for workers and businesses alike.”
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