Eamonn Fingleton, author of In the Jaws of the Dragon: America’s Fate in the Coming Era of Chinese Hegemony, called in from Ireland for an interview with Stephen K. Bannon of Breitbart News Daily on Monday morning.
After the South Carolina primary, Fingleton penned an article for Forbes explaining “why Donald Trump will be America’s next President.” The short answer, as he explained on Breitbart News Daily, is that Trump holds positions uniquely in resonance with the American people on immigration and trade. This includes Trump’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP), which Fingleton conceded he was a lonely voice among Forbes contributors for opposing.
The latter is a subject of particular interest and expertise for Fingleton, who has lived in Asian countries and observed the results of the trade policies Trump criticizes. He anticipates Trump will attract even more support when he no longer has to fend off challengers in the “rather raucous” Republican primary, and can focus his campaign on these policy issues.
“I think the basic issue is that other countries, particularly East Asian countries, are not going to reciprocate America’s openness on trade,” Fingleton explained. “And that means American manufacturers are competing with one hand tied behind their backs. Foreign markets are blocked to them, so they cannot get economies of scale, they cannot get up to really global levels of efficiencies, in matching the East Asians particularly.”
He spotlighted the automobile industry as a prime example of this trade imbalance, a topic elaborated upon in his Forbes article.
Fingleton said there was a “quite artificial” process of pushing free-trade advocates into positions of authority within the American media and political class, making Trump’s message on trade (and similar positions taken by Senator Bernie Sanders during the Democrat primary) a breath of fresh air to many disaffected American voters. Much of the electorate has despaired of hearing anyone take America’s side wholeheartedly on trade and immigration. He named a few candidates in the past, such as Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan, who have argued for tougher trade policies less successfully than Trump, noting how things have changed since the 1990s, including the erosion of the free-trade lobby’s ability to marginalize its opponents.
Fingleton agreed the 2016 election would come down to a vote on American sovereignty, and a pushback against those who seek to erode it, dubbed “the Party of Davos” by Bannon after the city in Switzerland that hosts the annual World Economic Forum. Fingleton said the election would be a battle between “the Davos crowd and democracy,” suggesting that the conflict between open-borders internationalism and national identity has reached a critical stage indeed.