A recently released study by four leading economists of voting in U.S. congressional races uncovered an important pattern. According to a New York Times report on the study, “Areas hardest hit by trade shocks were much more likely to move to the far right or the far left politically.” Job losses, especially to China, the authors noted, lead voters to strongly favor either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders.
I found the Times article reassuring for its affirmation that voters are seeing through the claims used to sell trade agreements. Voters increasingly understand that these agreements are actually less about trade than about corporate rights. The current widespread opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement reflects that understanding.
This observed relationship between economic hardship and rejection of the political status quo is evidence of a growing public awareness now reaching critical mass. People see that big money backing a corporatist agenda is antithetical to the interests of working people, democracy, and a living Earth.