Amity Shlaes, the author of The Forgotten Man, her exceptional 2007 look at the Depression, writes, “the 1930s have plenty to tell us, yes. But the real challenge isn’t deciding who resembles Hoover. The challenge is for both parties to figure out how to avoid a whole era of mistakes“:
Hoover knew free trade was beneficial. But his party, the Grand Old Party, was the tariff party. So in spite of himself, he signed a big new tariff, the Smoot-Hawley act, triggering retaliation from U.S. trading partners.
For many decades now, Democrats have contrasted Hoover’s concession to protectionists unfavorably with free-trade legislation written by Roosevelt and his globalization guru, Secretary of State Cordell Hull.
Today it is the Democrats who are doing wrong, and they know better. Candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both internationalists by temperament, yet they seem to be in a race to see who can repeal the North American Free Trade Agreement first.
Read the whole thing.