The rumblings of trouble between Mexico and the United States already began before Donald Trump even won the Republican primary. His populist tone was resonating loudly across the regions of the United States, that had least benefited from the new economy over the past few decades. The hollowing out of traditional American manufacturing, had created a new constituency that would soon alter the domestic political landscape.
Mr. Trump’s bombastic rhetoric played well in the old industrial towns of the Midwest, where the 2016 presidential election would be decided. The blue collar working class turned definitively against the free trade globalist agenda of the ruling elites. It had far less to do with party affiliation and more towards people voting for what they considered to be their own economic benefit.
Once Trump won the primary he continued his expressive style into the general election. His alienation of certain sectors of the electorate was counterbalanced, by the massive new numbers who felt the status quo was no longer acceptable. Much like the change election of 2008, voters had a similar sentiment in 2016.
The Democratic Party lulled into complacency by inaccurate polls and a cheer leading media, went into the election totally oblivious, that they were about to suffer one of their biggest losses ever. The Republicans continued their triumph, at both the national and state levels in most of the contests.
Even as the dramatic political shift of the election fades, the era of unfettered free trade will be under constant attack. The more traction that President-elect Trump received by espousing a more protectionist stance, the more pressure applied to both Democrat and Republican politicians to abandon their previous stance on trade.
At the state level, support for more free trade agreements had been ratcheting down for a number of years in many areas of the country. The collapse at the national level arrived in an almost seismic way. Political leaders in Washington D.C. were largely unprepared for the huge backlash of many portions of the electorate.
Large swaths of voters no longer believed what career politicians insisted, was in the nations best interest. The slowest economic recovery in post war American history, had indeed taken its toll. The previous widespread support for increasing trade through ever greater integration of the world economy, had seemingly evaporated.
Now it seemed that Democrats and Republicans were at last, being forced into the same policy position. That past trade agreements had largely failed to provide all the benefits that were promised.
Trump has already stated that as President, he will not pursue membership for the United States in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that was signed into existence last February. Although one can argue that it does not benefit the United States as much as one can hope economically, there are other considerations.
By not including China in the trade pact, it guaranteed that the principles of free trade and investment among the 12 member nations, would more closely follow the American pattern for economic development.
As the 21st century progresses, the contest for supremacy in East Asian and the Pacific region between China and the United States, is bound to become more intense.
Having a trade alliance of nations around the Pacific rim that are bound to the United States by treaty, might prove to be highly beneficial. It further cements these nations to a foreign policy, that is more in line with American interests.
Increasing the flow of goods and services across the Pacific from the nations of Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam will benefit the region enormously.
If President Trump remains skeptical of certain aspects of the trade agreement, perhaps a partial renegotiation is yet possible. To simply dismiss the entire project wholesale, may not be in the best interest of the United States, neither in the short or long term.
No matter, within days of his inauguration, an executive order was passed taking the United States out of the TPP.
The same is true for the trade agreement already in force, much closer to home. The North American Free Trade Agreement known as NAFTA,was ratified back in 1994. It is a three way understanding between the nations of Canada, Mexico and the United States. It forms one of the most important free trade zones in the world.
At a combined population of over 493 million, roughly one out of every 15 inhabitants of the planet are covered under the terms of the treaty. It also comprises one of the largest land areas globally, for the free flow of goods and services.
Canada and Mexico are the first and third respectively, most important trading partners of the United States. Only the combined European Union, has a greater impact. China is the second most important trading country for the United States.
The United States remains by far the largest trading partner for both Canada and Mexico.
Near 77% of all Canadian exports end up in the United States. Around 55% of imports coming into Canada, originate from the United States.
Over 80% of all Mexican exports are sold in the United States. Nearly half of all imports coming into Mexico, are produced in the United States.
As would be expected with such large percentages,whole industries have grown up around and have become dependent on this trilateral trade.
NAFTA has been controversial since its inception. There is however, far less contention between Canada and the United States. There are a number of reasons for this. The first is the comparison in population. At 326.5 million, the United States towers over Canada, with a population of just 36.6 million. There is a far smaller economic impact on the American economy as a whole.
There are also the correspondent environmental rules, business regulations, and ways of doing business. The two countries share a long history and are quite similar in language and customs.
The most important factor however, is the close approximation in wages and per capita income. Far less American manufacturing jobs, have migrated to Canada as compared to Mexico.
Candidate Trump made what he termed unfair trade agreements and illegal immigration, central themes of his campaign. He places blame for the loss of American prowess in manufacturing, on the guile of trading partners and the stupidity of negotiators in the United States.
President Trump can decide to withdraw from NAFTA, with a 6 months notice and without approval from Congress. He also has within his authority to slap on a 35% tariff rate, on goods coming from Mexico.
Mexican President Enrique Nieto is taking the threat of tariffs quite seriously. He has even offered to renegotiate parts of the trade agreement, that President Trump may find most egregious. Mr. Nieto knows a trade war with the United States, will be an economic calamity for the Mexican economy.
For his part, Mr. Trump often insists his stance is merely a negotiating tactic. Similar to his threat to impose an even higher tariff of 45% on China, and identify them as a currency manipulator. He continues to promise, that he will gain far better trade deals for the United States in the long term.
The political rhetoric has not softened since the election either. President Trump stated earlier this month again, that Mexico is continuing to take advantage of the United States. In some ways, these speeches may well make it far more difficult to compromise, once the time to re-negotiate finally does arrive.
Outside of trade, President Trump has pledged to finally deal with illegal immigration in the United States. In addition to stricter enforcement concerning visas inside the country, he has committed himself to push for a border wall along the Mexican-United States border.
Trump is convinced that the construction of a physical barrier, will finally indicate to the Mexican government and other countries, that the United States is finally getting serious about immigration.
As to add insult to injury, he never misses an opportunity to say that Mexico will in fact pay for the construction of the wall, one way or another.
Although his tone has softened somewhat since the campaign on undocumented immigrants, he still asserts that there will be mass deportations. However, his focus has shifted from illegal immigrants in general, to mainly criminal aliens. He has estimated, the latter comprise of some 3 million individuals.
The Democratic party opposition in the United States, wastes far too much energy on the feasibility, effectiveness and cost that a border wall entails. They should instead concentrate why it politically is not a good idea, rather than peripheral concerns.
For example, that they are finally concerned about something costing too much money is so disingenuous, it is laughable.
President Trump claims it will cost between $8 to $12 billion USD (United States dollar). Others insist that it might actually reach as high as $15 billion to $25 billion USD. That would be equal to nearly $16 million USD per mile, at the highest end. In the present climate of runaway federal spending, this is practically a rounding error.
The federal budget for 2017 calls for outlays of $3.65 trillion USD. Total receipts are estimated at $3.21 trillion USD. This leaves as a percentage of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) a deficit of -2.6%, if one calculates the GDP at $17 trillion USD.
If one considers that it might actually impede the flow of criminals or even terrorists, the wall would actually be cost effective. There are simply not enough federal and state agents, to deal with all of the felonious activity that is being conducted by non-citizens.
Contrary to the expressed opinion of some Washington insiders and elites, walls do indeed work. If they are properly managed and maintained, it cannot be argued otherwise. One only has to observe the Israeli experience or even Germany, during the height of the Cold War.
For the United States it is more about the political will, to finally regain control over the Mexican border area.
Democrats have a vested interest to keep the border more loosely defined. Immigrants both legal and illegal are more likely to vote for their party, rather than for Republicans. It is a misrepresentation of facts for these politicians, to insist otherwise.
The Democratic Party has a similar stance on illegal voting in the United States. They continue to repeat there is no evidence of improper activity during elections. When such actions are indeed reported, they then insist, there is no cause for concern because it is not widespread.
Fair minded Americans feel photo identification before voting, makes perfect sense. If someone votes illegally under any circumstances, it negates the voting rights of all citizens.
A number of Americans mostly on the left, are very concerned with what they call voter suppression. At the same time,they seem largely untroubled with felons, illegals, the unregistered, multiple ballots and even dead people voting.
It seems to be the intention of Trump to stem the flow of migrants and finally regain control of the southern border of the United States.
Although there is still a lack of real political will at the federal level, the American electorate in growing numbers has spoken. The fear is rising, that terrorists can simply slip across the border undetected.
Some political pundits will argue that the Democratic candidate won the popular vote by some 3 million voters. California alone, provided the margin of victory. Yet, there is increasing skepticism that this result is entirely legitimate.
There is growing evidence that there was widespread cases of electoral fraud concentrated in the states of California, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada and Virginia.
Lax voter registration laws, the issuance of hundreds of thousands of driver licenses to non citizens, incompetency of election officials and in a number of cases outright corruption, has often provided the needed margin for victory in the past.
The recent recount initiated by the Green presidential candidate Jill Stein, in the states of Michigan and Wisconsin, did reveal something important. That there was indeed ,numerous cases of voter irregularities. Too late the effort was shut down, to save the construct that American elections are totally free of fraud.
To add fuel to the fire President Trump himself, continues to insist that voting abnormalities and outright dishonesty, denied him a win in the popular vote.
If indeed, too many non citizens did vote in the 2016 election, it certainly does provide the evidence, that a reform of the electoral process has now become necessary.
The main stream media will do its best to ignore what happened in these states, but the results showed once again, that there are quite a few local politicians and activists, that will abide and even participate in electoral fraud to advance their cause. A repeat of the old adage, the ends justify the means.
Democrats are taking a huge gamble with the issue of border security as well. If they continue to oppose the construction of the wall and the enforcement of immigration laws, it leaves them open to the consequences for that position.
When the next round of terrorism occurs in the United States and if the evidence traces their path of entry through the Mexican-American border, the populace will hold these politicians fully accountable.
American liberals are dealing with a real dilemma. Allow future voters to be shut out or keep the border open and immigration laws loosely enforced, thereby increasing the risk for more terrorist attacks.
The myths and political legends of the 2016 elections, will no doubt be repeated and believed by a sizable segment of the population. There are individuals in the media and politicians who will insist that Donald Trump won, due to a mass increase in what is termed the white vote. The facts, speak otherwise. There was only a 1% increase, over the level former Republican candidate Mitt Romney received in 2012.
It was actually the increase in the minority count, that put President Trump over the top. His share of the black vote increased 7%, the Hispanic vote went up by 8% and the Asian vote surged 11%.
The political genius of Trump is in forcing Democrats to take policy positions, that are in opposition to a growing segment of the electorate. As a centrist and a populist he has taken for his own, a number of issues that have gained him support in non-traditional circles for Republicans.
One of the best examples of this, is the growing support Trump is receiving from union workers. By co-opting the Democratic issue of job insecurity, created by what is deemed unfair foreign competition, he is causing a sizable number of union members to cross over and support the Republican ticket. The efforts of union officials to prevent this phenomena, have so far largely failed.
Much to the chagrin of the Washington elites, Trump has achieved the same result concerning most existing trade deals, energy production, climate change, the environment and immigration. His no nonsense approach to these issues have since garnered a mass appeal. The disdain heaped upon his policy positions by pundits and the main stream media in general, merely reinforce their separation from the average voter.
Democrats refuse to accept the reality that Mrs. Clinton was a flawed candidate, from the beginning. The voters wanted change and she represented establishment. Her basic policy position and campaign theme, was to basically continue the policies of former President Obama. The problem was the majority of Americans did not believe things were going well, no matter how many times they were told otherwise by the Democratic leadership and Obama himself.
The ongoing personal scandals and lack of professional judgment on her part, doomed her candidacy. The high handed manner of conduct by the Democratic National Committee during the campaign, merely reinforced the public perception that she represented corruption, elitism and political cronyism.
There is no doubt, the political ineptitude of the Bush Administration in the second term, paved the way for an Obama victory in 2008. The elitism, governmental corruption and lack of transparency during the Obama presidency, certainly did make the path for Donald Trump far easier.
Still the main stream media and powerful elites in Washington, will cling to the belief that they were robbed of victory. They will continue to blame Russian hacking,Wiki leaks, the FBI ( Federal Bureau of Investigation) and the American Constitution itself, for their electoral loss.
Unfortunately for these people, the average voter no longer believes them. They lost credibility during the Obama years, where powerful individuals including the President himself, were not held accountable for their unethical and often illegal acts.
The complicity of the Republicans and their inability to hold these officials responsible for their actions, made a Trump like candidacy, all the more likely. It was the political brilliance of Donald Trump himself however, that knew his time had finally come.