Donald Trump’s political rise in the Republican presidential race is alarming many people in this country. Some view his political rise as a testament that (white) Americans are angry against globalization/trade and fear America turning more hispanic. Others, like myself, view Trump’s ascendency as a fad that does not truly represent American stance on several important issues. For sake of brevity, I will focus on two topics that seem to be the cornerstone of Trump’s campaign, globalization/trade and immigration.
Americans are not autarkic
Trump’s anti-China/trade rhetoric is just a nice applause line to rally the base, but doesn’t really indicate Americans’ stance on globalization. If the majority of Americans were really as autarkic as Trump’s supporters seem to be, America’s import of Chinese goods would show that. However, the opposite is true. As shown below, US trade (deficit) with China is still growing. American appetite for Chinese-made products strongly shows that they are not as sinophobic as Trump make them to be. It is this hunger for made in China goods that is enabling the U.S. consumer-based economy to chug along since China re-invest its trade surplus in U.S. treasuries. So, when it comes to trade and globalization, Americans are a lot more pro-trade than Trump and Sanders make them look.
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Another of Trump’s proposals is to reinforce America’s border with Mexico and deport illegal aliens. This is one of Trump’s main attraction point in the GOP elections, showing his toughness and opposition to illegal immigration. On this topic, too, Americans are more open and welcoming than Trump suggests. For example, the number of foreign-born individuals as a share of us population continue to rise unabated. This chart below from the Congressional Budget Office shows that the share of the population made up of foreign born has increased significantly since the 1970s. This illustrates that America continues to be a magnet for (legal and illegal) immigrants, because there are ample opportunities thanks to the U.S. economy and Americans’ welcoming attitude. If Americans were so unfriendly to immigrants, they wouldn’t be hiring them as professors, scientists, laborers, nannies, and others.
On these two key points, I have confidence and belief in Americans as people who have benefited immensely from trade openness and a welcoming attitude toward newcomers. Therefore, Trump’s current rise doesn’t scare me at all. Because when push comes to shove, with their wallets, Americans vote overwhelmingly for open trade and immigration. Paradoxically, if Donald Trump succeeds to “make America great again”, American desire for foreign-made cars, electronics and bilingual nannies will simply explode. So, let’s not get carried away by this Trump craze.