Joe Biden Represents Failed Consensus | Opinion

The pundits and consultants would have you believe November's presidential election is a choice between President Donald Trump's disruptive populism and former Vice President Joe Biden's safe politics-as-usual.

It is a self-serving narrative pushed by those who profit from the status quo. To protect that system, they must hide Biden's complicity in the sweeping destruction of our nation's productive capacity.

Biden has done little to reverse the deindustrialization of America during his more than four decades in public office. In fact, his record on China—both as vice president and well before then—makes clear his policies almost certainly accelerated the erosion of our nation's manufacturing industry and offshoring of millions of good-paying jobs.

Biden downplayed China's accession into the World Trade Organization 20 years ago, saying, "nor do I see the collapse of the American manufacturing economy, as China, a nation with the impact on the world economy about the size of the Netherlands', suddenly becomes our major economic competitor."

Thirteen years later, Biden seemed to admit he was wrong, saying, "the world's economic engine has shifted eastward, and we know that it is in Asia, where much of the opportunity in the 21st century will be found." This was not an admission of error, though; instead, it was a lauding of the neoliberal global system.

And just last year, Biden made clear he doesn't view China as a threat to overtake America, telling supporters, "China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man. ...They're not competition for us."

This is Biden's legacy, and it is the reason Americans in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio voted for President Trump in 2016.

Biden wasn't alone, of course. His worldview aligned with the now-disproven consensus that offshoring manufacturing, tripling down on big finance and reaping the benefits of global market efficiencies would benefit American workers and communities. The Democratic Party and grifter, anti-Trump outfits like the Lincoln Project want voters to believe those policies represented the heyday for American workers, domestic manufacturing and unparalleled innovation.

They could not be more wrong.

Fortunately, President Trump and the Republican Party are focused on what matters: restoring America's productive capacity and regaining our nation's role as a leader in industrial prowess.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden Mark Makela/Getty Images

For decades after World War II, every corner of our country—even my hometown, which is most often associated with beaches and sun—was transformed by manufacturing. From 1940 through the end of the 1950s, Miami went from being the least industrialized metropolitan area in America—with just about 3 percent of its labor force in factory jobs—to employing 13 percent of the labor force in such roles. The textile and apparel industries became a particular point of pride, with all kinds of products carrying a cherished "made in Hialeah" label.

Today, our country cannot even make enough facemasks and other personal protective equipment to keep our citizens and medical professionals safe in the face of a global pandemic.

Not only did the decline in manufacturing make us vulnerable to shortages—something more reminiscent of communist regimes in Latin America—but it also hollowed out entire cities and communities that were once home to a vibrant middle class.

And it has had a destructive, devastating impact on hard-working American families, where the dignity of work has been replaced by food stamps, opioid abuse and disability checks.

Equally concerning is that today's powerful elites in multinational corporations, finance and the so-called information economy seem to have little concern for our national interest or security. We see that most pervasively in China, where so-called American companies are more than willing to trade their intellectual property for access to the Chinese market and cheap labor—while, at the same time, turning a blind eye to the Communist Party's egregious human rights abuses and authoritarian crackdown on basic freedoms like free speech.

It also highlights the stunning naiveté of the Biden-era consensus, and should alarm every American who thinks the industrial capacity of a country still matters.

Our nation's elites do not see the Chinese Communist Party as competition, and they do not see the destruction of our ability to make things in America as a problem. That is a conversation that elites in the media, in the private sector and in politics do not want to have, but it is the conversation that will define the 2020 election and America's success—or failure—in the decades to come.

Marco Rubio, a Republican, is the senior U.S. senator from Florida.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.