The Rise of the Lou Dobbs Democrats

Jacob Weisberg has a useful column up at at Slate on how last night’s Democratic win represents the rise of the Lou Dobbs Democrats — economist nationalists against free trade, globalization,  and immigration policy — which isn’t exactly a good thing:

Many of the Democrats who recaptured seats held by Republicans have been described as moderates or social conservatives, who will be out of synch with Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi. The better term, with props to Fareed Zakaria, is probably illiberal Democrats. Most of those who reclaimed Republican seats ran hard against free trade, globalization, and any sort of moderate immigration policy. That these Democrats won makes it likely that others will take up their reactionary call. Some of the newcomers may even be foolish enough to try to govern on the basis of their misguided theory.

As Weisberg says, this is bad for Doha, and likely bad for fans of free trade. One way of reading the global markets’ negative reaction to the gains isn’t that investors are anti-Democrat (although that may be true too), but that they see this as ushering in new era of protectionism.


  1. I’m sorry — I stopped reading when your pullquote started in on the passive voice.
    “Many Republicans have been described as unrepentant fascists. Many doctors have been described as butchers. Many bloggers have been described as pajama-clad wankers.”
    Many readers are utterly unconvinced.
    Snark aside, on very broad strokes you and Weisberg are right: the guys with (D) after their name are anti-free trade. However, your post acts as if there is any evidence that this stance has anything to do with the election. Is there any data indicating such? If there is, I have not seen it. Please post.
    Free trade is one of the few areas where I agree with the GOP party line. However, there I tend to be disappointed, insofar as their party mouths the free-trade line, but raises tariffs and subsidies.
    If anything, this election could lead to a Nixon-in-China moment. Since the Democrats are so identified with protectionism, they might (maybe) be able to get away with fixing it.
    Not, however, if you and Weisberg don’t give them room.
    Rant over, quite honestly: have you got any objective measures for me? I have a math degree. I like numbers.

  2. Ken Berlack says:

    On the question of Democrats and their stance on trade, it’s not simply a matter of Democrats being protectionist and Republicans favoring unregulated free trade. One key facet of this is that it comes down to how Congress, representing the American people, needs to have a fair and proper voice in the formation of proposed trade agreements. Should Congress be allowed only an up-or-down vote on trade agreements as it is under the current fast track trade rules? This doesn’t sound right.

  3. You say Lou Dobbs Democrat as if it were a negative. Oh lefties. you fail to recognize the history of the Democratic party was a party for labor, for working families, for a living wage, long before liberal social issues were a gleam in your latte.
    As the counter-argument to the “greed is good” sow-at-the-trough Republicanism, the Lou Dobbs Democrat is a very welcome addition.
    A proud one.

  4. Lou Dobbs is right on the mark.
    The Democrats can’t even muster support for Dick Durbin’s bill s1035. This bill would require jobs now reserved for foreign nationals under the H-1B visa to be advertised to the domestic market first.
    I thought the Democrats were the party of Equal Opportunity. Are we asking too much?