Republicans Finally Turn on Trump’s Trade War, but Will They Confront Him?

When it comes to the Republican Party, Donald Trump can do no wrong. Sure, he’s ignorant and undisciplined and has taken a wrecking ball to our democracy at home and our alliances abroad. His administration is the most openly corrupt in history, and he is personally under investigation for possible conspiracy with a foreign power. But nobody’s perfect! His followers love him, the economy is working well for rich people again, they’re going to get their solid Supreme Court majority and he signed their massive tax cut bill. Who are they to rock the boat over rampant corruption and betrayal of national security?

As I have written many times, going all the way back to the presidential campaign, the Trump phenomenon exposed something important about the conservative movement which has spent decades building up an edifice of ideology that went beyond simply “Fool the rubes into voting to give rich people their money.” (Others have made this point in depth.) It is now obvious that they were wasting their breath with all that folderol about “small government” and “freedom” and “individualism.” Trump showed that underneath it all, the dogwhistles were the conservative movement.

No, conservatives simply don’t care that Russia attacked the US in the last election, because it benefited them. They certainly don’t care about the toxic swamp of corruption that threatens to drown the entire government. But for all of their sycophantic enabling, there is one area that has the GOP contemplating a small revolt because it will actually hurt their voters directly in the pocketbook and affect their donors’ bottom lines. Those are things for which they do have some respect. I’m talking about the trade war.

I should say at the outset that there are some good arguments for targeted tariffs and a reevaluation of trade deals and global financial institutions. Progressives have complained for decades about the international trade structure in which the benefits all float…

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