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Trump, Sanders: The Anti-Globalists

This article first appeared in The Harpers blog:

During a recent visit to the Dominican Republic, I gave a lot of thought to “globalization”—a concept much discussed and much disputed in the current U.S. presidential campaign. Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital, was the first European-style city in the New World—the realization of the global ambitions cherished by Christopher Columbus and the Spanish monarchy—and my stay there prompted me to reflect on the frankly antiglobalist discourse that’s dominating the debate among the leading presidential candidates.

Donald Trump denounces almost everything that comes from outside the U.S. (excluding, of course, his wife, Melania). From free-trade agreements negotiated by “losers” at America’s expense to the insidious Mexican immigrants who are poaching our jobs to the numerous overseas military stupidities committed by both Republican and Democratic governments, the real-estate billionaire paints a horrendous portrait of the lands beyond our borders.

“We’re living in a very vicious world,” he declared to Anderson Cooper of CNN last Tuesday. “You look at what the world is doing to us at every level, whether it’s militarily or in trade . . . The world is taking advantage of us, and it’s driving us into literally being a Third World nation.” Therefore Trump would like to withdraw from this mean-spirited world, which persecutes innocent America, and erect barriers. “We’re a poor country now,” he told the editorial board of the Washington Post.

Bernie Sanders seems to be less scared, globally speaking. He often refers to his Polish roots, and his older brother immigrated to England. But Sanders also rails against free trade and the invasion of Iraq, even though he’s more sympathetic than Trump toward people perceived as “the other.” Both men affirm their determination to rebuild an America weakened by unhealthy relationships with the outside world.

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