Earlier this week, I wrote a short dispatch about Barack Obama dancing around the issue of trade -- an issue at the heart of the populist uprising on both the right and left. Now today, my syndicated newspaper column explores the issue more thoroughly, showing precisely the opportunity the GOP's inevitable racism and nationalism with a populist line on trade.
John McCain is taking an extremist position on the issue -- to the point of doing a public event today with Canadian industrialists to promote NAFTA. This extremist position presents a huge opportunity for Obama in states that have been destroyed by NAFTA-style trade policies -- swing states from Maine to North Carolina to Ohio.
The problem is that Obama still seems hesitant to take a strong position on trade. He has hired one of Bob Rubin's chief confidantes as his top economic adviser, and he gives speeches depicting those who are pushing a strong fair trade agenda as Luddite protectionists.
This speaks to what we discussed last night for THE UPRISING at a big event here in Chicago at In These Times: the notion of progressive pressure as a positive force for Obama. We have to keep the pressure on Obama to take a strong position on issues like trade -- and we have to use the election to leverage that pressure.
Of course, there are those who claim that any pressure against Obama imperils his electoral chances, but that's a farce. In 2006, progressive pressure on Democrats forced the party to take a stronger line on Iraq - and that stronger line helped them win the 2006 election. The same can be the case with Obama on the issue of trade - and if we are effective, we can help him both take a majority position on the issue and win the election.
Read the whole column at the San Francisco Chronicle, Denver Post, Ft. Collins Coloradoan, In These Times, TruthDig, Credo Action or Creators Syndicate. Then go pick up a copy of THE UPRISING to read more about how trade policy is fueling a backlash on both the right and left.