Conservatives routinely point out the benefits of economic nationalism: self-reliance and security. Yet, California, a liberal stronghold, has benefited from Trumpian economic nationalism.
Compared to other liberal states with large populations, such as New York and Washington, California is handling the crisis remarkably well. It is not a left-wing tilt that has helped California. Economic independence accounts for a large portion of the state’s success.
When a state or nation has large agricultural, manufacturing, and tech sectors, as California does, it does not have to rely on foreign entities to save it in times of emergency. This makes the state an outstanding model for a self-sustaining and nationalist economy. The benefits of economic independence are becoming even clearer during this crisis.
California has benefitted from having the greatest manufacturing capacity of any state. Governor Newsom has secured a supply of over two hundred million masks a month, from both non-profits and California-based manufacturer BYD North America. Meanwhile, the federal government is currently working to secure a supply of six hundred million masks for the entire country. A significant amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators come from California, even as California has comparatively fewer cases.
Silicon Valley has also come to the rescue during the crisis. Facebook has built an open-source page for COVID-19 medical supplies, Tesla is using its California factories to build ventilators, and a company has even created rings which monitor medical workers for coronavirus symptoms.
On top of all this, California is the top-producing agricultural state in the nation. Two-thirds of all US fruits and a third of all vegetables come from the state. California ranchers and farmers are not only feeding a majority of their own state but large portions of others as well.
California has already revitalized its manufacturing and is prioritizing the needs of the US above those of other countries -- the very policies Trump has faced frequent criticism for advocating nationally.
American manufacturing and ingenuity have allowed California to succeed in this crisis. If the country, like California, could become economically independent, would we not be better off?
While California is by no means the gold standard for laissez-faire capitalism, it can at the very least serve as a model for how America could benefit from a softly nationalistic economy. China is an authoritarian global opponent who we know does not act in the best interests of our citizens -- it is dangerous for the United States to continue to rely so completely on them for manufacturing and supplies. Over 80% of the United States’ prescription drug and pharmaceutical ingredients come from China. This is an obvious danger to our national security, particularly in the midst of a pandemic. California is able to capitalize on its comparative size and wealth of natural resources, and the US should be able to do the same.
The coronavirus crisis should stand as a warning. In California, we can see the security which comes from self-reliance. The danger of not being able to maintain a reliable supply of goods is clearer than ever. We must bring a significant portion of manufacturing back to the US, instead of relying on China to provide what we need. California, surprisingly enough, presents a model of such success.