The Democratic party’s elites must not think that trade and jobs will be big issues in the coming election. Apparently, they’ve never listened to a Donald Trump speech, and didn’t notice that working-class people in the United Kingdom just voted to “brexit” from the European Union (EU) over these issues.
The Democratic platform writing committee has voted not to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with the pro-TPP majority saying that doing so would undercut President Obama’s efforts to pass the agreement.
The problem is, this hands Trump, as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, powerful ammunition as he says Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton is only “pretending” to oppose the agreement.
Platform Committee Won’t Oppose TPP
The Hill explains, in “Sanders: ‘We lost some very important fights’ in Democratic platform”:
[T]he panel did block several proposals favored by Sanders and his supporters. It refused to adopt a proposed amendment by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) that would have opposed President Obama on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — both Sanders and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton have spoken against the trade deal. Instead, the panel backed a measure that acknowledged “a diversity of views in the party” on the TPP.
More from AP: “Democrats reject platform proposal opposing trade deal”:
Democrats on Friday voted down an amendment to the party’s platform that would have opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, avoiding an awkward scenario that would have put its statement of values at odds with President Barack Obama.
Members of a Democratic National Convention drafting committee defeated a proposal led by Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., that would have added language rejecting the Pacific Rim trade pact, which has been opposed by presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
The panel, which is developing the party’s platform ahead of next month’s Philadelphia convention, instead backed a measure that said “there are a diversity of views in the party” on the TPP and reaffirmed that Democrats contend any trade deal “must protect workers and the environment.”
Trump, Republicans Attacking Clinton Over TPP
TPP and past “trade” deals are incredibly unpopular with working-class voters, and Republicans are preparing a full-scale attack on Clinton’s credibility over the unpopular TPP. They are making the case that Clinton actually supports TPP but is pretending she does not in order to get votes. They say the president’s efforts to pass TPP in the post-election “lame duck” session back up their claims. This pro-TPP vote by Clinton supporters on the platform committee will likely bolster the Republican argument.
Trump gave a major speech June 22, attacking Cinton for “corruption.” A major portion of the speech was dedicated to his opposition to TPP, and claims that Clinton actually supports the agreement, only claiming to oppose it to get votes. He said:
Hillary Clinton has also been the biggest promoter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will ship millions more of our jobs overseas – and give up Congressional power to an international foreign commission.
Now, because I have pointed out why it would be such a disastrous deal, she is pretending that she is against it.
Backing up Trump’s arguments, Republicans and Republican outlets have started to go after Clinton again and again over TPP. The danger is that when conservative outlets begin a drumbeat “mainstream” outlets often pick it up and amplify it.
This is what right-leaning voters are hearing. This is from Fox News, headlined “Paperback version of Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ omits her former TPP trade pact support”:
The paperback version of Hillary Clinton’s memoir “Hard Choices” fails to include her support of the international trade pact TPP that rivals Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have opposed, raising criticism about Clinton “reinventing herself” for the general election race.
On Brietbart, one post is headlined, “Donald Trump: Clinton’s TPP Would Sacrifice American Jobs and Economic Independence”:
A Hillary Clinton Presidency would enact the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and lead to a massive jobs depression in the same pattern of Clinton’s career according to Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump who laid out a litany of Clinton misconduct in a highly anticipated Wednesday morning address.
“If [Hillary Clinton] is elected President she will adopt the Trans-Pacific Partnership and we will lose millions of jobs and our economic independence for good,” said Trump.
Just as she has betrayed the American worker and trade at every single stage of her career and it will be even worse than the Clinton’s NAFTA deal. And I never thought it could get worse than that. We will lose jobs. We will lose employment. We will lose taxes. We will lost everything. We will lose our country.
“Mainstream” outlets are already amplifying Trump’s theme:
● World Trade Online: “Trump Says Clinton Only ‘Pretending’ To Oppose TPP”
● Morning Consult: “Trump Says Clinton Would Implement Controversial Trade Deal”
● Time: “Donald Trump Accuses Hillary Clinton of Corruption as Secretary of State”:
One of Trump’s main lines of attack was on Clinton’s position on the Trans Pacific Partnership, the massive trade deal that would link the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim nations. “If she becomes president she will adopt the Trans Pacific Partnership,” Trump argued.
Dem Platform Handing This Issue To Trump
The Brexit vote shows that people are sick and tired of elite schemes to drive down wages. TPP is one such scheme and voters get it.
Trump, Sanders and Clinton have all stated their opposition to TPP. President Obama apparently doesn’t get what is happening out there in the world in reaction to the damage working people have suffered from trade agreements. He recently told voters in the UK they would have to go ‘to the back of the line’ on trade deals, not getting it that the promise of no more trade deals might have increased the “Leave” turnout by 10-20%.
John Nichols writes at The Nation, in “What the Democrats Must Learn About Free-Trade Deals From Brexit”:
Plenty of Americans are unsettled about Britain’s vote to exit the European Union. And a lot of what unsettles them is Donald Trump’s claim that the Brexit vote sets the stage for a similar reaction against elite political and economic arrangements in the United States.
[. . .] The Leave campaigners in the UK succeeded because there are millions of working-class voters—many of them in the left-leaning “Labour heartlands” of northern England—who know that globalization has not worked for them. Well, there are millions of Americans in battleground states such as Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina who know that globalization has not worked for them.
… “It is hard for me to understand why Secretary Clinton’s delegates won’t stand behind Secretary Clinton’s positions in the party’s platform,” says Sanders, who has said he will vote for Clinton in her race with Trump but argues that the platform must be strengthened in order to better position Clinton to beat the presumptive Republican nominee.
It is hard to understand why Clinton supporters are blocking efforts to fight the TPP agreement. This hands the issue to Trump and reinforces his position that Clinton is only “pretending” to oppose the agreement.
It appears that the party elite just don’t understand the public’s overwhelming opposition to TPP. The pro-TPP members of the platform committee say they must support a Democratic president. But what about the interests of the public, labor and working people, the environment, the economy and their own nominee?
Send Democratic party elites a message with this petition: “Don’t undermine our presidential nominee. No lame-duck vote on the TPP!” The louder the noise is before the full platform committee, the more likely they are to relent and avoid a full convention floor fight.
Also see this must-watch video, Burning Issues: Explaining The ‘Revolt’ Against the TPP:
This post has been updated.