Globalization is incomplete

Dale Satre, Staff Writer

Starting a few decades ago, there was a dramatic revolution in how the world is governed and wealth is created. Beginning in the early 1970s, the number of electoral democracies rose from 35 to over 110 by 2010. World economic output quadrupled, and the proportion of people living in extreme property withered from 42 percent in 1990 to 18 percent in 2008. This can be attributed to globalism, as the explosion of products, people and capital crossing borders empowered populations politically and economically.

And then came the year 2016. The year of Trump and Brexit.

If anything, that year showed us globalization has not helped everybody as much as we like to think. The working and middle classes enjoyed high wages and steady jobs before globalization, but buying power was demolished as employers took their factories overseas to cheaper labor. The biggest blow to the “system” as we know it was the Great Recession of 2008. Bankrupt Americans saw their tax-dollars bailing out banks whose recklessness cost them their jobs and dignity. The number of democracies has actually fallen since then, as authoritarian countries like China and Russia challenge America’s world leadership.

The twentieth century was defined by the battle of economic ideologies, but our own century is shaping to be a battle of identity politics. This plays out in America as the left represents the interest of various marginalized groups, such as immigrants, women and LGBT people; and the right, representing largely the American working class and the cultural status quo. Both sides have grievances against each other and segregate themselves into tribes shaping how they see the world. The feedback loop of grouping ourselves into identity tribes threatens the ability to collectively act as a society, which is what democracy depends on.

We must safeguard minority groups, but there also has to be common goals for us to achieve together. The logic of identity politics is to divide the public into ever-narrowing tribes, but it’s also possible to provide identities that are more integrative, not just sharing lived experiences, but also values and aspirations.

Although our country celebrates diversity, we cannot build national identity and values on diversity itself. There has to be a rally cry to integrate different groups when undertaking national campaigns. This would not be based on things like ethnicity, gender, occupation, etc. but instead values that everybody can benefit from, such as constitutionalism, equality under law, and the fair application of the law.

Completely stopping immigration, or opening the floodgates of immigration, are neither politically nor economically acceptable actions. The real conversation should be about how to assimilate natives and immigrants around a foundation national identity of values and citizenship. Well assimilated immigrants bring healthy diversity to our country. This integration should start in public schools teaching basic civics, not just to immigrants but also to native students.

A common concern in America and Europe is that immigrants strain our welfare resources, without having contributed to the system. This leaves many natives feeling left behind by their government and taken advantage of by politicians trying to buy immigrant votes. Reforming the welfare system around contribution, instead of being eligible just by presence, would add fairness and take the steam out of common populist taking points.

President Lincoln said it best that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” A common unity around the same constitutional values that made our country great is a starting point. Our two-party political class so bogged down in battling each other they arguably don’t represent their constituents back home. We cannot have our Oval Office be a perpetual pendulum of right wing, left wing leaders, but recognizing our shared histories and common similarities will bring citizens to the table.