Free trade is a confused orphan of a political issue. Many in the Tea Party movement seem to despise the idea of free trade, especially NAFTA, even as the conservative movement has long embraced the idea. Democrats and independents who have become convinced of the economic utility of unhindered trade, are left to deal with the structural resistance from within the party driven by union opposition to the concept. Standing above all is the idea that America doesn’t build anything anymore, evidenced some say, but the burgeoning trade deficit.
The one critical item missing from most of the media conversations on trade, has been the facts. The media dutifully repeats the positions of the parties on trade, and records the voices of angry Americans regarding trade. What we don’t often here, are conversations on what causes trade deficits or facts supporting the notion that job loss is driven by free trade. This column will seek to define free trade, and will also look at the other important factors in this under-reported story.