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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - Mark Penn and Thomas Freedman

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Mark Penn and Thomas Freedman

Last Build Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2007 00:47:53 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007

The Politics of Globalization

Fri, 19 Jan 2007 00:47:53 -0600

The study finds that a huge majority of voters -- 89 percent -- agree with the sentiment, "Americans are optimistic, and America is most successful when we view change as an opportunity for success, rather than as a threat to be resisted." Only 7 percent disagree with that. Voters also insist that the country must remain the world's leader in science and technology. But that spirit of optimism does not necessarily extend to voters' personal lives. For example, less than one-half expect their incomes to rise enough in the next decade to improve their standards of living, and people overwhelmingly say they would prefer job security over higher salaries. As a general matter, while more than one-half say they support globalization, few support it strongly. In fact, a protectionist strain runs through voters' attitudes about globalization. A majority say they would rather limit competition than adapt to global economic pressures. The survey asked people whether they would rather "limit change and competition by ending unfair trade, reducing immigration, and producing more of the goods we consume here at home" or "adapt to changes by training workers and specializing in things other countries want, such as high-tech goods and information services." By a 54 percent to 40 percent margin, respondents picked limiting change and competition over adapting to it. Pros and cons. Voters see particular aspects of globalization as having both positive and negative consequences. Their attitudes about the Internet, jobs, national security -- and especially trade -- are all examples of that trend. For instance, when voters were asked in the survey for their reactions to a series of statements about globalization, the statement that elicited the strongest positive response had to do with the Internet -- but so did the statement that elicited the strongest negative response. Seventy-eight percent of voters said they viewed globalization more favorably (and 35 percent said they viewed it much more favorably) when they heard this: "The Internet lets billions of people all over the world communicate, do business, and learn about other cultures cheaply and conveniently." But by the same token, 85 percent said they viewed globalization less favorably (and 68 percent said they viewed it much less favorably) when they heard this: "The Internet allows people to trade child pornography internationally, and it is very difficult to enforce the law across international borders." A similar picture appeared on the job front. By a wide margin -- 75 percent to 21 percent -- voters said job creation, lower prices for consumers, and increases in investment and economic growth stemming from international trade were positive consequences of globalization. But by an even wider margin -- 81 percent to 15 percent -- voters said that jobs moving overseas and U.S. factories closing are negative consequences of globalization. On national security, voters said a favorable consequence of globalization is the increasing "interchange and exchange between the U.S. and other countries, which helps create new alliances and makes us more secure." Democrats, Independents, and Republicans all felt similarly on that score. But Republicans felt more strongly than others that globalization's overall effect on security also has an unfavorable consequence, namely, that "terrorists can use cheap travel, international finance, and the Internet to recruit and plan terrorist attacks thousands of miles away." And then there is the issue of trade. Better than anything else, it illustrates the mix of positive and negative voter perspectives on globalization. While less than one-third of the voters surveyed in the DLC study favored the total repeal of existing trade agreements, only about one-third supported the creation of new ones. In fact, absent some new development, the public may remain deadlocked on the question of trade for some time, thwarting progress in Washington. The clearest indicator of this came from those who work in export industries. Only 43 percent of these voter[...]