White Backlash Is Nothing New

In the short run, the media spotlight on the white backlash of 1963–64 appeared to have been spectacularly misplaced. The movement proved to be an electoral failure, one almost immediately demonstrated to have been on the wrong side of history. Not only did the Civil Rights Act pass in 1964, but later that year, Lyndon B. Johnson won an overwhelming election victory, leading him to speculate that a “frontlash” of civil-rights support was far more significant than what he labeled the “so-called backlash,” which suffered crushing double defeats that year. Johnson predicted at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City that “for every backlash that the Democrats lose, we pick up three frontlash [votes],” and his shellacking of Barry Goldwater on Election Day seemed to prove him correct.

But, as Johnson was also well aware, the forces of backlash were far from defeated. “I think we just delivered the South

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Can Biden Resist the Lure of Protectionism?

In the 12 years of the Obama and Trump administrations, Congress has approved only two agreements: the Trans-Pacific Partnership of 2016 (from which Trump withdrew in 2017) and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement of 2018, which isn’t really a free-trade agreement at all. (An International Monetary Fund analysis of the agreement assessed that, on balance, the USMCA restricted North American trade, as compared with NAFTA, because of its protectionist rules about components of North American automobiles and apparel.)

Why so little trade progress under Barack Obama? In the 1980s, New Democrats such as Clinton and Gary Hart upheld the open-trade cause against union-backed old-line Democrats such as Walter Mondale and Tip O’Neill. Newly elected Vice President Al Gore defended NAFTA on television against Ross Perot in 1993.

By the 2000s, however, the New Democrats were losing ground in their party. Obama used Hillary Clinton’s past support for NAFTA against her in the

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