During the DNC platform committee meetings, Hillary Clinton surrogates stood with their presumptive nominee in opposing any efforts to take a clear stance against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and better unify the party.
You can watch the C-SPAN debate on Amendment 93 here at roughly 18:30 in the C-SPAN video – Day 2, Part 1.
The first round of TPP discussions came when Lee Saunders (AFSCME), a Clinton surrogate, initiated Amendment 93, that opposed free trade agreements that do not have protections for workers’ rights and environmental standards. The Saunders amendment did not specifically state opposition to the TPP.
Where is the unity?
Dr. Cornell West (Sanders) argued in favor of the Jealous Amendment. “We want unity, but we want it real. We don’t want it on the backs of working people. We want opposition to TPP in this platform.”
During the debate, the Clinton people all gave lip service with anti-TPP rhetoric, but refused to include specific language in the platform. Instead of making an important 7-word concession to Sanders, the Clintons flexed their muscle and stood united against the Jealous amendment, voting 106 (Clinton Supporters)-74 (Sanders supporters) to oppose it. Before the vote, Jealous made it clear that his amendment did not replace the Saunders Amendment, “You can support both; all of his (Saunders) language and vote to add, ‘this is why we oppose the TPP,’ because we do.”
After the vote on the Jealous Amendment, the debate returned to the initial Saunders amendment. Robert Craig (Sanders) highlighted the hypocrisy of the Clinton camp when he said, “We’ve had no speech here in favor of TPP, yet we can’t bring ourselves to say we’re against TPP.”
The sad part of the debate for me, a proud union carpenter, was watching labor leaders argue against the specific language proposed by Ben Jealous. It demonstrated that labor leaders, specifically, Lee Saunders (AFSCME), Robert Martinez (IAM), Randi Weingartin (AFT), and Kevin Williamson (UFCW), were more willing to carry water for a presidential candidate than they were willing to protect the rights of their members. As if to underscore this point, the labor shills all wore buttons that said “I’m with her,” but none of them had signs or buttons that said, “NO TPP.” In sharp contrast the Sanders camp plastered their laptops, boxes, placards and clothing with signs that said, NO TPP.”
This non-verbal difference was a glaring red flag that union members should be paying attention to. This is why many rank-and-file labor members no longer trust their leaders – it destroys labors’ unity. The Carpenters Union endorsed Hillary Clinton. This rank-and-file union carpenter has been campaigning for Bernie since Iowa and is a standing strong, #StillSanders delegate to the national convention. My generation of labor leaders is going to have to be more astute in our fight to protect workers’ rights in a post-TPP world – thanks baby boomer generation.
I have articulated what labor’s position should be at the Democratic convention – We need to undercut President Obama’s TPP.
Jim Hightower Amendment – Sanders Camp Attempts to Undercut President Obama’s TPP:
The second round of TPP discussions was initiated by Jim Hightower, a Sanders surrogate who initiated Amendment 36. This video can be watched at 10:00 minutes in the C-SPAN coverage of the event on Day 2, Part 2.
The Hightower Amendment seeks to permanently kill the TPP and calls on the Democratic Party to prevent a lame duck vote on TPP. In his comments, Hightower sharpens and focuses his concerns on the political viability that the Clinton camp has created with their weak, muddy position.
“Donny Trump is telling working class Americans across this country that he will flat out kill the TPP, no equivocation in it… The GOP platform is also saying, ‘no lame duck on TPP.’ The Republicans are going to be a flat out statement. He is going to hammer Hillary mercilessly with this wimpy language in her platform. It is humiliating and suicidal for our side… so I offer this straight forward amendment as a form of political Viagra to stiffen the spine of our party.”
How does this Reflect Political Shortsightedness by the Clinton Camp?
In addition to failing to unify the party, the move reflects the disconnect between the Clinton campaign and rank-and-file working Americans, highlights her untrustworthiness, and hands Donald Trump a core issue that plays into his anti-immigrant/nationalistic rhetoric.
According to the Washington Post, one Sanders supporter, Brent Welder, said, “We’re trying to save Secretary Clinton from herself.” It didn’t work. The Clinton people couldn’t bring themselves to add seven very specific words stating our opposition to the TPP.
Let’s fast forward to the general election. Between July and November the TPP will come up for discussion in the house/senate with efforts by the Obama Administration to advance the disastrous legislation. Because the lead cheerleader for the TPP is a Democratic president, it will come across as an issue that Democrats support. Donald Trump will continually use this issue to parse out differences between the Republicans and Democrats. Republican leaders will let them do it for their political gain.
What will Secretary Clinton say? My political instincts tell me that Clinton continues to move in a direction that supports the TPP by talking about “key changes” that make it “the best trade agreement we have ever seen.”
Trustworthiness is going to be one of Trump’s core themes. As Secretary Clinton wanders all over the political map on the TPP, we are certain to hear questions about her trustworthiness. Polling shows that the American people already do not trust Hillary Clinton. In May, before the real negative Trump campaign is ever launched, polling showed that two thirds of the American people do not trust her.
How can we go into a general election like this? This is a recipe for disaster.
Tags: #StillSanders, Ben Jealous, Bernie Sanders, Carpenters Union, Cornell West, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, International Brotherhood of Carpenters, Jim Hightower, Kevin Williamson, Lee Saunders, Randi Weingartin, Robert Martinez, TPP, Trans-Pacific Partnership