Robert D. Atkinson and Michael Lind reframe how we think of the American economy in this insightful piece.
In response to the rise of “populism,” members of the Washington establishment have adopted a reassuring way to frame the question of America’s proper relationship to the world. As they see it, Americans are divided into two camps—open or closed, globalist or nationalist, interventionist or protectionist. In this framing, the closed, nationalist, and protectionist camp voted for Trump, and the open, globalist, and interventionist group for Clinton. From this basic dichotomy about America’s role in the world, views about America’s role in the global economy can be deduced.
If only it were that simple. In reality, five distinct schools with different views of how America should fit into the world economy and govern its own can be identified: global libertarianism, progressive localism, national protectionism, global neoliberalism, and national developmentalism. Each of these contemporary schools of American political economy has its own vision of the good society, expressed in its own preferred combination of policies toward firms, trade, and immigration.