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Most Americans are lifelong learners and will change their mind when facts become known. Of course, despite the evidence, there will always be stubborn, stick-to-their-guns individuals.

According to the conservative Wall Street Journal, a recent Chicago Council on Global Affairs nonpartisan survey found 82 percent of Americans believe free trade is good for the economy — an increase of 23 percent from two years ago.

Sixty-seven percent of Americans think it’s also good for creating jobs — an astounding 27 percent increase in two years. Four out of five Americans believe expanding, not contracting exports, is best for job retention and job growth.

A stunning 85 percent of Americans think free trade is good for consumers. While the Democrats’ sentiment favoring free trade increased by 16 percent in the last two years, Republicans’ belief in free trade increased by a whopping 31 percent.

One hallmark of the Republican Party since Ronald Reagan has been their support of free trade until our 45th president tried to change that GOP value. Reagan, in fact, called protectionism “destructionism.”

Trump withdrew the USA from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership in January 2017. Now, 61 percent of Americans want Trump and Congress to get back into the TPP.

What about NAFTA? Overall support for the USA-Mexico-Canada agreement has increased by 10 percent.

Should USA and China exchange goods? Here’s where Trump and his most ardent supporters may have to retreat in our relationship with our No. 1 trading partner: 71 percent of Americans think a continued trade war with China will hurt their pocket book and hometown economy.

When Iowa’s 211,373 farmers learned Trump’s trade tariff debacle would mean receiving a one penny ($0.01) per bushel of corn, $8 per pig and $1.65 per soybean bushel reimbursement as part of the $12 billion Farm Aid Plan, an entitlement they didn’t want, that may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back about the tariff policy. Trump’s $12 billion bailout just became an additional tax burden for everyone.

Americans are seeing how President Trump’s self-imposed trade tariffs, implemented supposedly for national security purposes, and the ensuing trade wars, are causing price increases in the goods they purchase. The facts are quite compelling. Meanwhile, national attack sirens remain silent.

It’s reported that when Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., informed newly elected Trump and his White House associates how America had prospered with free trade ever since the American Revolutionary War and USA has 154 World Trade Order bilateral agreements, 20 free trade agreements, 66 trade and investment framework agreements, 45 bilateral investment treaties and renegotiating trade agreements requires two-thirds of the Senate’s approval, he was struck by their ignorance.

The late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was the first to warn Americans about Trump’s nationalism and isolationist policy and its potential harm to our economy. Trump’s trade policy was the brain-child of Steve Bannon (who never worked in government or at a policy-making think tank), who convinced Trump that tariffs were good and would not cause any economic harm.

Educated Americans and wise politicians alike have known since America’s War of Independence that being an isolationist does not work.

In honor to the wisdom of McCain (1936-2018), ask your congressional legislators to abolish any thoughts of authoritarian-isolationist-nationalism trade policy. Let’s keep America great like it has been since 1776 with open and free global trade opportunities for all businesses.

Trump would do well to heed Reagan’s words: “We should beware of the demagogues who are ready to declare a trade war against our friends — weakening our economy, our national security and the entire free world — all while cynically waving the American flag.”

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Steve Corbin is an emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect those of the University of Northern Iowa.


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