This chapter explores the political representations of outsourcing, principally by way of presidential campaign discourse in the United States. The accusation of “shipping jobs overseas” has established the frame through which the practice of outsourcing is (negatively) judged. In 2004, the uproar created by the Bush Administration’s stumble into the outsourcing question turned this into something approaching a third-rail issue in U.S. politics, setting the tone and the terms for a succession of often cynical and ultimately inconclusive debates over the scale, causes, and consequences of outsourcing. As partial and skewed as they have been, these debates around the “threat” of offshore outsourcing call attention to an apparently visceral connection to underlying sources of economic uncertainty across the working and voting public at large, as well as to what has become a prolonged condition of bipartisan detachment from the fundamental policy issues of trade and employment.
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