Saturday, January 21, 2017

Will Hamilton stop Trump?

The new US president has buried the hope (or the myth) of a liberal and civilized nationalism. In the integrated world of 2017, the solution that Trump proposes to Rodrik's trilemma is the de facto elimination of democracy and its replacement by a combination of twitter, bullying and olygarchic government. A nation-state dominated by big protectionist business men that do not care about global problems will operate in a global war somehow trying to manage it and keep it under control with other olygarchs in other nation-states. Those that try to build alternatives, based on federalism, trade and cooperation are now the enemies. It was symtomatic that in a theater play about the federalist founding father Alexander Hamilton, the actors and actresses stopped the play in front of Trump's number two to tell him that they were against bigotry and intolerance, all of them values that are in strong contradiction to the path of progress that the federalists tried to establish with their system of checks, balances and multi-level democracy. The only hope (if they want to rebuild a world of sovereign nation-states) now of nationalists that still pretend to be in favor of free trade and liberalism (like Theresa May or many Catalan secessionists) is a bigot ignorant isolationist in the White House that has made clear from day one that doesn't want to know anything about free trade. The ideas of federalism offer an alternative, globally and internally in the US, as argued in a recent article by Laura Tyson and Lenny Mendonça: "the US Constitution allows individual states to function as what Judge Brandeis called laboratories of democracy by experimenting with innovative policies without putting the rest of the country at risk.  There is a long and rich history of successful experiments. State and local governments were leaders in establishing public primary and secondary education systems, as well as state colleges and universities. California, Wyoming, and other states allowed women to vote – an example that encouraged passage of the Nineteenth Amendment (enfranchising all adult women). Welfare-to-work programs in Michigan and Wisconsin served as the model for federal welfare reform under President Bill Clinton, and Obamacare is based on Massachusetts’ health-care system, introduced under Republican Governor Mitt Romney. Likewise, from 2000 to 2014, by enacting a variety of energy policies – from broad climate action plans to mandated renewable-energy standards – 33 states cut carbon dioxide emissions while expanding their economies. More recently, some states have introduced cap-and-trade systems to put a price on carbon, and many are already on track to meet Obama’s Clean Power Plan targets. Half of all US states have now legalized marijuana in some form, with eight embracing full legalization. Three states have implemented laws offering paid family leave, with a fourth on the way. Nineteen states rang in 2017 with increases in their minimum wage."

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