Trade policy issues are blurring old lines, turning politics in 2016 inside out

As national and state election candidates and their supporters feud over protections for American workers versus free trade agreements, the traditional partisan positions on the matter are becoming scrambled.

Labor opposition to a free-trade deal would be unremarkable most years. Unions have long argued that free trade drives down wages and jobs, while business owners have argued for cheaper imports and exports.

But candidates and voters in both major parties appear to be switching long-held positions on trade policy. And these flip-flops are making it harder to reach consensus in Washington over a proposed international agreement to make it easier to import products from Asian nations.

In Missouri’s U.S. Senate race, Jason Kander, the Democrat, generally opposes free-trade agreements, which is the traditional party position.

That view aligns Kander with Donald Trump – the Republicans’ presumptive nominee for president. At the same time, it puts Kander at odds with prominent Democrats like President Barack Obama and Sen. Claire McCaskill, who say they support freer trade.

Sen. Roy Blunt, Kander’s opponent, doesn’t like Trump’s protectionism, meaning Blunt agrees more with Obama than Trump on trade.

Changing views on both sides are making it harder to decipher races up and down the ballot this year, from president to Congress and beyond. Trade policy no longer breaks along clean party lines.

Read more: Kansas City Star

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