How has the Republican Party viewed Globalization over time?
Globalization is an issue of palpable political importance. It has swayed economic policy, foreign policy and social policy within most countries. It is also an issue that does not fit neatly onto the political spectrum. People on both the right and left support and oppose globalization. Why is this? What affect has this had on the political right?
The “why” is a very simple answer. Most people don’t consider foreign policy (which is the main policy area directly affected by globalization when voting) as much as other areas of political policy. As James Carville said, “it’s the economy stupid”. Voters are much more concerned about economic issues that affect them now (such as taxes and social programs) than they are about super national trading organizations and foreign conflicts. This means that voters don’t organize their beliefs based off of foreign policy and their take on globalization. As a result, political parties are not organized off of foreign policy and thus opinions about globalization. This is exacerbated in the United States where there are only two political parties since it means that both parties will reach out to voters who support and oppose globalization.
So, if there is no definitive foreign policy of the right, then what are the various factions? The Republican Party (which has represented the “contemporary right”) has always had a “mixed bag” of opinions on globalization. The Old Right had isolationist tendencies that date back very far. Some in the Republican Party were very adamant on this issue. The “conservative wing” of the Republican Party represented this stance. Senator Robert A. Taft led the movement throughout the 1940’s and into the 1950’s. Taft was an isolationist who opposed entry into World War Two (except after Pearl Harbor), opposed NATO when it was created, and opposed the United Nations.
Taft was contrasted by the “moderate wing” of the Republican Party. The “moderate wing” included Governor Thomas Dewey and President Dwight Eisenhower. The “moderate wing” was primarily located in the eastern United States. To contrast this, the “conservative wing” was primarily located in the mid-west and southern United States. Dewey, Eisenhower, and their followers were more sympathetic to American intervention in World War Two, NATO, The Cold War and globalization. The 1952 Republican National Convention was really only about the foreign policy doctrines of Taft and Eisenhower. Both of them generally agreed on other issues (such as their gradual acceptance of the New Deal).
The division between the “conservative wing” and the “moderate wing” of the Republican Party would evolve over the following decades. The “conservative wing” morphed into the paleoconservatives. paleoconservatives are the modern successor of the Old Right. They are isolationist and protectionist. They are deficit hawks and favor intense fiscal discipline (some today even support the reintroduction of the gold standard). They are also staunchly anti-immigration. As a result of these stances, they oppose globalization. Many of them explicitly state this (such as Pat Buchanan).
The “moderate wing” eventually morphed into the neoconservatives. The neoconservatives are a conglomeration of the “moderate wing” of the Republican Party and Democrats who developed conservative beliefs in the 1960’s. Neoconservatives support American intervention in foreign conflicts (from Vietnam to Iraq). Neoconservatives support free trade agreements (NAFTA, TPP, TTIP, etc.). Neoconservatives are also softer on deficit spending and immigration than their paleoconservative counterparts. On the whole, neoconservatives support globalization for the increased trading opportunities and the ability to spread democracy and American values.
In the 1960’s, conservatives such as William F. Buckley Jr., attempted to define what conservatism was. Buckley created a definition that included Paleoconservatives, Neoconservatives, Christian Conservatives, Libertarian Republicans and Moderate Republicans. This definition later became known as the “Reagan Coalition”, as it put President Ronald Reagan into the White House in 1980. Reagan did not necessarily fit into any of these categories, but he was an interventionist and generally supported globalization. Reagan also identified with the interventionist movement of the Republican Party from the 1960’s onward.
Neoconservatism became more prominent in the Republican Party throughout the 1980’s and became the dominant ideology of the party with election of President George W. Bush in 2000. This has led to a Republican Party that has supported globalization from the 1980’s until now. This can be seen by the support of military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq that time period. It can also be seen by reliable Republican support for free trade agreements during that time period.
Recently, the Republican Party has taken a turn in a different direction. Donald Trump is more paleoconservative than any Republican nominee for President in decades. His staunch opposition to the Iraq War, willingness to work with Putin and Assad in Syria (a common paleoconservative position) and vehement opposition to free trade agreements (such as TPP and NAFTA) all associate him with the paleoconservative movement. This marks a serious change in rhetoric from a party that previously supported globalization (primarily under neoconservatives), but now has a nominee who opposes it.
This divide within the Republican Party between interventionists and isolationists is nothing new. All that seems to change is the faces of the people representing either side of the debate. If Trump wins the 2016 election, it could make paleoconservatism the ideology of the Republican Party for decades. Trump could also abandon certain positions with his ascension to higher office. George W. Bush campaigned in 2000 on a non-interventionist platform, yet the war in Iraq was the polar opposite of this. Ultimately, it is up to the voters of the right to decide what their opinion on globalization will be.