America is about to go protectionist. Now Im scared.

At least it looks that way after the elections on Tuesday, when the front-running presidential candidatesDemocrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trumpwon big victories in large states.

Both have spent much of this campaign savaging free trade. They blame the flow of goods and services across borders for many of our economic woes. Clinton has denounced a Pacific trade pact that she once supported and Trump has all but promised a trade war with China.

To make matters worse, their major challengersDemocrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Ted Cruzalso have embraced protectionism. Sanders is a lifelong believer while Cruz converted to economic isolationism last year, in a brazen act of political opportunism.

The only bright spot on Tuesday came from Republican John Kasichs win in Ohio. With Marco Rubio suspending his campaign, Kasich is now the only major presidential candidate who speaks favorably about free trade.

So things look pretty bad for tradebut the reality may be even worse.

Thats the lesson I learned last weekend, at the Republican convention in Fayette County, Iowa, where I live and farm. Our rural county is home to about 20,000 people, and were totally dependent on agriculture. We export about half our soybeans to customers in other countries. Around a quarter of our pork and 20 percent of our corn also ships abroad.

In other words, we live in a landlocked county in the heartland of America, but were connected to a global economy. Although nobody would mistake us for rich, we enjoy a good standard of livingone that we wouldnt have if we couldnt sell our farm products to people in foreign lands.

If anybody should appreciate the importance of trade, its us.

At last months Iowa caucuses, I proposed a plank in support of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a pending trade agreement that would improve the ability of farmers to sell our products to countries such as Japan, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

I offered it because so many presidential candidates had condemned trade, as if walls and tariffs can lead us to prosperity. They cant. I wanted to do my part to send a different message.

My proposal went to the platform committee, and I expected it to come up again at last weekends county meeting.

Thats exactly what happened, except that it didnt meet with the easy approval I had imagined. Instead, my plank was rewritten. Rather than a statement in support of TPP, it warped into a statement opposed to TPP.

Everyone in this room trades with the world, I said. This is about our survival. My prosperity is their prosperity. We are all in this business together.

It didnt matter. The anti-TPP plank passed by a wide margin. I was astonished and horrified.

The statement ultimately didnt make it into our county platform, but only because the parliamentarian ruled against it on procedural grounds. Yet he couldnt erase the sentiment. My trade-dependent neighbors now seem to think trade hurts us.

So do our young people. When our countys youth committee reported on its own deliberations, it announced the adoption of a single position: opposition to free trade.

Psychologists have a term for the anxiety that comes from encountering new information that conflicts with our core beliefs: cognitive dissonance. Thats exactly what Im suffering from right now, as I watch neighbors whose livelihood depends on exports turn against trade.

Its as if the facts of our lives dont matter.

I hope well recover from these protectionist passions, seeing in time that theyre just a momentary and ill-advised fling brought on by the hot rhetoric of a campaign season.

In other words, I hope well come to our senses.

Doing that, however, will take leadership. If we cant have this kind of leadership from our presidential candidates at the top, it will have to come from the bottom. Farmers will have to speak up, explaining to one person at a time why we trade right now and why well need to trade even more in the future.

I choose to speak up now. Will you join me?