A supporter of President Donald Trump at a rally in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, March 2017.
Mark Makela / Reuters

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump had a consistent message for American workers: You have been betrayed by elites mesmerized by globalization and multilateralism. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) are the problems, he said, not the solutions to stagnant wages and unemployment. Trump promised to bring back jobs by adopting an “America First” economic nationalism. That fiery message helped get him elected. But now Trump faces a problem: His solutions won’t work, and his supporters will soon realize that they’ve been had.

Few would reject Trump’s goals. He wants to ensure that American firms remain competitive and that the country’s trade partners do not discriminate against U.S. producers. But no matter how fervently he and his supporters believe it, Trump’s trade policies won’t help reestablish America’s once-commanding positions in such

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  • JEFFREY KUCIK is  Assistant Professor of Political Science and Director of International Affairs at the Powell School, City College of New York.
  • RAJAN MENON is the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations at the Powell School, City College of New York, and Senior Research Fellow at Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, Columbia University.
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