You know the old bit about how blue states tend to pay more taxes into Washington than red states, while red states tend to receive more USG tax dollars? Well, the WSJ has another bit like that in a recent editorial, pointing out that "swing elections states are among America's top exporters."
It starts out by stating:
Democrats and Republicans don't agree on much in this polarizing election year, but one exception is trade with China. Nearly every politician seems eager to claim on the stump that the scheming Asian giant is hurting U.S. living standards.
Then it references some research from the U.S.-China Business Council (and here I quote from that site) that says:
Congressional districts all over the country are seeing exports to China outpace exports to the rest of the world according to the US-China Business Council's (USCBC) annual US Congressional District Exports to China report. Out of 435 congressional districts, 420 districts had higher growth in exports to China in 2011 than they did to other markets around the globe.
The Council then cleverly notes that "diverse" states (read, swing states) tend to do quite well on this scale.
Back to the WSJ:
Railing against imported Chinese goods is especially shortsighted given that so many of America's own exports are components for the products the U.S. eventually imports again.
Besides the manufacturing, there's also the reality that "roughly 55 cents of every dollar that Americans spend on 'Made in China' products goes to the Americans who design, ship and market those products."
The need to demonize foreigners has long been a staple of American populism (hardly making us unique). Read your Benjamin Friedman (Moral Consequences of Economic Growth): Americans turn xenophobic every time middle-class wages stagnate.
But, of course, it doesn't stop there. As we see with the AirSea Battle Concept, the Pentagon is also hoping to protect its money in this era of tense populism, and it naturally turns to China as well. Long ago it was Quemoy and Matsu. Now, we'll arm up East Asia to fight with China over even tinier rocks - all over the money to be made in the seabed below.
Trust me, in the end, it's always about the money.