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As Fast Track/TPP Becomes New Third Rail, Where Is Clinton?

04/07/2015 11:45 am ET | Updated Jun 07, 2015

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) -- and the rigged "fast-track" process designed to pass it before the public has a chance to react -- has become a new "third rail" for progressives and the activist Democratic "base." (This is also true on the right, by the way.)

This game rigging is creating a race to the bottom for people and the planet. The thing is that more and more people are seeing it. And more and more people are asking Hillary Clinton to lead the fight against it.

A Rigged Game

People are fed up with the rigged "trade" game that pits American wages, environmental regulations, consumer protections and other benefits of democracy against exploitative, paid-off, non-democracies. "Free trade" has made democracy's good wages and environmental and safety protections into a competitive disadvantage in world markets.

Most people now get that the "free-trade" game is part of a system that has rigged the rules against 99 percent of us, and they have had enough. But the "centrists" still living inside the Wall Street/D.C.-elite/1990s-"triangulation" bubble haven't realized the extent of the changes in Main Street thinking quite yet. Democratic politicians who still support rigging the rules for the 1 percent with free trade or education/entitlement/pension "reform" (Rahm? Cuomo? Van Hollen?) are surprised to find themselves in trouble when they ask for votes from the 99 percent.

Progressive leaders are working to warn Hillary Clinton off from grabbing that new third rail.

An Unprecedented Level of Opposition

Last week's post, "Populism 2015: Citizens Insist On Trade Deals That Work For All Of Us," quoted people representing Democracy for America, MoveOn, CREDO Action, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), and Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch sharing what leaders of many organizations have learned. They described the overwhelming, unprecedented and enthusiastic opposition to fast track and the TPP that progressive organizers are encountering "out there" across the country among "the base" -- the primary voters and foot soldiers of campaigns:

Even though there is a virtual media blackout on information about TPP, people around the country are finding out anyway. There is a remarkable level of unity and opposition to the fast track process that will be used to pass TPP -- among people who have heard of it. Fast track and TPP are quickly becoming a political "third rail." If politicians go against the public on this one, they find themselves in trouble.

The post "A Trade Campaign Built On Four Pinocchios" described the breadth of progressive organizations publicly opposing Fast Track/TPP:

Look at the list of progressives organization in the Stop Fast Track coalition, and then there's the coalition of faith groups opposing fast track, the Trade Justice coalition, this food safety coalition opposing fast track, this Media Rights coalition opposing fast track, this coalition of liberty groups opposing fast track, this coalition of agriculture and business groups opposing fast track, and the Civil Society coalition, the No Fast Track coalition, the Washington Fair Trade coalition, the National Family Farm Coalition, and others.

Opposition to fast track and TPP is universal among progressives. It's a big, big deal.

Where Does Hillary Stand?

With progressive voice Sen. Elizabeth Warren helping lead the fast track/TPP opposition, and possible candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley joining in opposition, it's time for Hillary Clinton to tell people where she stands on fast track and TPP. Will she join with working people and the 99 percent, or will she bend to the D.C./Wall Street crowd (aka "the donor class")?

Clinton is the number-one candidate for president, and this is the number-one issue for a lot of us. In the past Clinton has been in favor of some trade agreements but against others -- so she is not a reflexive "free trader." And she has voted against fast track in the past. With fast track coming up again and TPP coming soon after, it's time for her to step up and declare herself as standing with the 99 percent and help us stop the rules from being rigged against us.

To help with her decision making, Credo Action has launched a national petition, "Tell Secretary Hillary Clinton: Speak out against Fast Track and the TPP," and an email that includes the following:

What does Secretary Clinton really believe on trade? If she wants to be president, she must commit to us that she stands for and with us.

As First Lady, she reportedly supported North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

As a senator, she voted for numerous free trade agreements, but she also voted against giving President George W. Bush Fast Track authority -- the same authority Bill Clinton employed during the 1990s to pass NAFTA and that President Obama is now requesting.

As a candidate in 2008, she criticized NAFTA and swore to do things differently. But then, as Secretary of State, she actively helped to pass the very deals she vehemently opposed as a candidate, including the job-killing Korea agreement, and a free trade agreement with Colombia - a country notorious for its horrific labor rights and unionist assassinations. And, she was a vocal promoter for the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty back in 2011.

As Clinton makes the move towards her near-certain presidential campaign in her pursuit for the nomination of the Democratic Party, now is the time for her make it clear where she stands on a trade deal which has been called "NAFTA on steroids" - for good reason. If Secretary Clinton wants to become President Clinton, she must come out and oppose Fast Track authority for trade deals like the TPP.

Tell Secretary Hillary Clinton: Publicly announce your opposition to Fast Track and the TPP.

... We urge you to immediately announce your public opposition to Fast Track trade authority and say no to secret trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership as the Democratic party's leading candidate for president of the United States.

Hillary Clinton, step up and lead. It's time.

This post originally appeared on the website of the Campaign for America's Future (CAF) on their Blog for OurFuture. Dave Johnson is a fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary, and here for the Progress Breakfast.
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