After last year's presidential election highlighted broad dissatisfaction with American trade policy, much public debate has centered around whether to march forward with an inadequate status quo or to instead ramp up tariffs and other trade barriers. Analysis of the Trump administration's trade policy often boils down to whether the “globalists” or the “nationalists” are winning the internal policy debate at any given point.
What this commentary misses is that the status quo is not some inevitable outcome of globalization. It is, rather, the result of conscious decisions designed to grow profits for holders of capital. It's time for a new trade policy that protects the rights of workers around the world to negotiate jointly for better wages and standards, starting with the ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In the same way that corporations can freely move jobs and funds across the globe, workers' bargaining rights must be empowered to cross borders.