OPINION: Live from Cleveland, it’s the Alliance for American Manufacturing

By Scott Paul
Jul 20 2016 |
Downtown Cleveland. | Photo by Tim, the Cleveland Kid

First we talk manufacturing policy with the RNC. Then with the DNC.

Originally published on the Huffington Post:

Hello Cleveland! We — the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) — are right here in the thick of it at the Republican National Convention.

And if you’d like to stop by and say hi, we’ll be in Philadelphia to rub elbows with the Democrats, too.

Our logic for participating is simple: If there were ever a presidential contest where the issues demanded our presence at a political convention, this is the one.

America has lost 5 million manufacturing jobs in the last 15 years. Our annual international trade in goods has gone from a nagging deficit to a gargantuan one. And a whole field of pundits are starting to reconsider one of the reliable tropes of their profession – that unfettered trade is great, without exception.

Now, trade and the atrophy of middle-income factory jobs are dominating the national political discussion. Trump talks about it constantly. But he’s not alone, and this is the first time in the post-World War II era that we’ve seen both party candidates take the issue so seriously.

It’s better late than never. Before you write off Trump’s bellicose “45 percent tariff” rhetoric as low-brow protectionism — or find the change of heart on the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Hillary Clinton experienced on the trail a little too politically convenient — keep in in mind that a lot of our fellow Americans agree with this sentiment. They certainly do here in Ohio. And they deserve real answers to these complex geopolitical and macroeconomic questions.

Their trade skepticism comes from a real place. Manufacturing — and the jobs that come with it — was an economic pillar of the middle class for generations of Americans. We’ve since opened ourselves up to the world, our leaders selling us on the benefits of cheap consumables at big-box stores and employment in new industries. But America isn’t a nation of baristas, and there’s a mounting pile of economic evidence that shows that those who lost their jobs to import competition have been long stuck in low-wage despair.

There’s no putting any of this back in the bottle, nor should we. The world’s markets are out there, and we will sink or swim in them.

But again, we need legitimate policy responses to these issues.

That’s why we’re here in Cleveland. Unlike others, we aren’t afraid of this debate. We’re here to speak with Republicans; talk policy at state delegation gatherings; and to let the GOP know that jobs, trade, and America’s factory footprint matter to voters.

We’ll be here all week, and we’ll be in Philly soon. We’re the Alliance for American Manufacturing.