A few columns ago I revealed myself to be an anti-antiglobalist, which leaves the question: what am I for? Figuring out what ideas and issues we oppose is so much easier than determining those we endorse. Opposing something can be a reflex action; supporting something with the same conviction demands we balance our personal beliefs with real-world circumstances. After I called out the anti-globalist position in my September column, I got some deserving inquiries about what alternatives I support.
I pondered all this again after I took an online poll to help me align my own beliefs and interests on various issues and topics with the declared presidential candidates — that is, on their declared positions. What a surprise to find the candidate with whom I am in most agreement. You can test your own compatibility with the available candidates in various surveys, too, but don’t be surprised if the outcome points you to someone for whom you cannot imagine voting — at least not today.
Candidates are not appealing directly for votes now by demonstrating their suitability for office; they’re doing it by indicating their compatibility with the constituencies that will carry them past the early deadlines, i.e., primaries in various states. So, the issues and positions that are important to me are most compatible with a certain candidate, but other factors have me wary: past statements and behavior, their choices of companions, advisors, and supporters.
There are two reconciliations that have to be achieved in order to line up me (or anyone) with a single candidate: the reconciling of my ideals with reality; and the reconciling of the candidate’s ideals with reality. Luckily, we have a system that does most of the work for us by boiling the choices down to two, so it becomes an either/or proposition.
That’s what the next few weeks and months will entail. But, don’t expect the candidates now available to resemble much the candidates we’ll choose between next November. Those who survive the selection process will have “reconciled” a lot of their statements to gain the support of voters along the way to their nomination.
And all of this illustrates the difficulty of making choices based on ideals, when reality is always so much more influential. To declare myself an anti-antiglobalist is a statement of ideals (free trade, fair trade, etc.), but it does not reveal my thoughts on how to address the specific issues of globalism (tariffs, subsidies, etc.)
If you immerse yourself in the discussions about globalism you’ll find that it has multiple levels of implication: global economics, politics and regulations, social policies and standards. Most discussions of globalism proceed from the debates surrounding trade and business activities — which is complex enough, but they inevitably lead to deeper issues of comparative rights and liberties, relative advantages and penalties, and the need to establish global standards on all manner of cultural and social behavior. Believing first in personal liberty, I oppose such tendencies, so I ought to be an anti-globalist.
Anti-globalism, lately, has a lot of supporters in the manufacturing industries, because it articulates the credible frustrations of people whose success has been challenged by low-cost competition. Like some presidential candidates, anti-globalists make strong arguments that resonate with the conditions of the moment. There ought to be a way to oppose all the invasive, regressive aspects of globalism without surrendering the ideals of personal liberty that are even more valuable than prosperity. Unfortunately, these two components of antiglobalism haven’t been reconciled, yet.
Ideally, our domestic market would supply us with all the goods and services we need at fair prices. We would have all the skills available to uphold this situation permanently, and we would generate enough fresh capital to keep the economy growing healthily. We need the global market. And, we need it to recognize why it needs us. So for now, that’s what makes me an anti-antiglobalist.