The (new) cross-party appeal of American manufacturing
In a recent post on Riding the Tiger (the election blog of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy), associate professor of Public Policy Guian McKee examines one of the hot topics of this election cycle: manufacturing.
According to Guian, “this is a significant and surprising departure from the economic focus of most recent presidential campaigns," and is now a top-of-mind campaign issue for both President Obama and the GOP candidates:
In a rare example of shared cross-partisan priorities (if not specific policy proposals), Obama’s Republican rivals have also emphasized manufacturing in recent months…. Both of the leading Republican candidates thus seem to share with Obama the idea that manufacturing represents a key component of the nation’s economic future.
So why has manufacturing recently become such an important part of the American political landscape? Guian believes that it has to do with nostalgia for a “golden” age of manufacturing coupled with the fact that the industries that we once thought would support our growing economy have in many respects failed us:
Manufacturing, for a few decades at least, once provided the economic basis for a middle class lifestyle for a large percentage (never total) of the U.S. workforce. Manufacturing’s replacements have thus far failed to demonstrate convincingly that they can do the same.
While the recent focus on the sector may reflect nostalgia for such a remembered and partly imagined golden age, it also demonstrates that President Obama and his rivals have moved into a policy and political landscape that has been fundamentally transformed by the economic crisis of the last five years.”
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