Pat Buchanan on the Republican Party's historical opposition to free trade deals

Arch-conservative Patrick J Buchanan's May column in American Conservative (an organ he founded) traces the history of the Republican Party's position on free trade, arguing that the "party of Lincoln" opposed free trade deals from its first days (Lincoln: "I am in favor of a national bank… and a high protective tariff") through to Reagan's tariffs against Japanese motorcycles.

Buchanan blames the current Republican ideological obsession with free trade on reading too much Ayn Rand, and says that Speaker Paul Ryan should read more history and less Rand.

The subtext of this argument is fascinating, since presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump's call for high tariffs and an end to free trade deals like TPP and even NAFTA have caused substantial upset in the GOP establishment. Buchanan's message to the Republican Party appears to be that Trump represents a truer conservative vision than the Tea Party leadership and power-brokers like the Koch brothers.

He also takes a potshot at goldbugs, arguing that Nixon ended the gold standard (considered an original sin by many libertarians, inflation hawks, gold-buyers and even bitcoiners) because "the Brits [were] coming for our gold."

"Pernicious indulgence in the doctrine of free trade seems inevitably to produce fatty degeneration of the moral fibre," wrote the Rough Rider, "I thank God I am not a free trader."

When the GOP returned to power after President Wilson, they enacted the Fordney-McCumber Tariff of 1922. For the next five years, the economy grew 7 percent a year. While the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, signed eight months after the Crash of '29, was blamed for the Depression, Nobel laureate Milton Friedman ferreted out the real perp, the Federal Reserve.

Every Republican platform from 1884 to 1944 professed the party's faith in protection. Free trade was introduced by the party of Woodrow Wilson and FDR. Our modern free-trade era began with the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Among the eight no votes in the Senate were Barry Goldwater and Prescott Bush.

Free Trade vs. the Republican Party
[Patrick J. Buchanan/The American Conservative]

(via Naked Capitalism)