The Economic Legacy of Gerald Ford
Over at Cato@Liberty, Daniel Griswold notes that the “accidental President” was among those Republicans who led the GOP away from it’s history of economic isolationism:
It is easy to forget today, but before World War II, the Republican Party was the protectionist, isolationist party. Republicans sponsored the 1930 Smoot-Hawley tariff bill that deepened and prolonged the Great Depression, contributing to a downward spiral in global trade and feeding the resentments that set the stage for World War II.
After the war, Republicans such as Sen. Arthur H. Vandenberg of Michigan broke from the party’s past to work with Democrats to forge a bipartisan trade and foreign policy. In the late 1940s, the United States not only joined NATO but also the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Under this bipartisan consensus, U.S. government barriers to international trade and foreign investment continued to fall from their peaks in the 1930s to their relatively low levels of today.
Gerald Ford’s presidency and career are open for critique, but on the basic question of whether the United States should engage in the global economy or wall itself off in fear, Gerald Ford was on the right side of history.
Unfortunately, political opportunists like Tom Tancredo and populists like Lou Dobbs seem intent on dragging America back in the other direction.