Would you let a fox watch your hen-house? That's what is happening in Washington, D.C., and this will continue to have ill-effects for our youth, families, elderly, the environment, income inequality, workers rights, and more. If we don't participate in our democracy right now, we will lose it. We live in a representative democracy, which means that it is the job of elected official to represent the will of the people. We also have a great thing called checks and balances which was developed so that we don't end up with one branch having too much power like a dictatorship. Our representatives in Congress swore an oath to represent the people, to be the checks and balances on executive branch as is guaranteed in our Constitution. However, right now they are trying to pass legislation called Fast Track that abdicates these responsibilities, while giving all the decision-making power to the Executive Branch for 6 years. This isn't a partisan issue, this is an issue that effects all Americans regardless of their gender, skin-color, age, and party affiliation. People are wondering what they can actually do about it and you will be surprised how simple, quick, and empowering it can be to make a difference.
Why are they doing this? To push through a secret trade deal called Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) written by corporate insiders that has the ability to undermine decades worth of environmental, social justice, and workers-rights progress in America. As the growing list of diverse voices opposing TPP begins to wake up, on Monday Martha Burk, (Money Editor at Ms. magazine; director, Corporate Accountability Project, National Council of Women's Organizations) published Obama's Fast Track Attack on Women stating:
The so-called partnership is an insult to all U.S. workers, with many provisions that will hurt women the most. The Communications Workers of America says it will steal majority-female jobs from low wage workplaces like call centers, as well as higher wage sectors such as human resources. And according to Doctors Without Borders, the agreement may well cut off access to generic drugs for people living with HIV/AIDS -- now predominately women and kids.
The Constitution of the United States clearly states:
[The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States... -United States Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 3
We live in a time where a deflated football or corruption in a soccer tournament is headline news, yet we continue to accept that politicians can break the sacred trust of the people they are sworn to represent. The analogy reminds me of common abuse patterns. Guy beats up and cheats on his wife, then sweet talks her, she forgives him and then he goes out and does it again. When will will break the cycle and stop enabling this dysfunction? Do we deserve a better democracy if we aren't willing to step up and demand it?
Can your representatives sign away their roles, responsibilities, and break their oath to uphold the Constitution? Only if you let them get away with it by not raising your voice. Is it legal for the president to coerce the Congress to sign over their responsibility to be the checks and balances on the Executive Branch? At the very least it shows a disrespect for the separation of powers guaranteed in our Constitution.
Here's what you can do:
You can call 202-224-3121 and leave a message for your representative or the president telling them how you feel about it. By giving your zip-code the operator will connect you with your representatives office, or you can look up the name of your representative by entering your zip code here. It's your right and your obligation if you love living in a representative democracy.
Members of Congress, individually and collectively, can also step up and win big points with voters by doing their jobs as stated at Open TPP. For example,
-The House and Senate intelligence committees have the power to declassify any document in their possession if they believe that doing so would serve the public interest;
-Any individual Member of Congress could publish -- e.g., by entering into the Congressional Record -- a portion of the draft TPP negotiating text, as Republican Congressman Darrel Issa did when he published the intellectual property chapter;
-Members of the House who have not yet committed to vote no on Fast Track could pledge to vote no on Fast Track if the text of the TPP is not made public before the vote.
Senator Elizabeth Warren completely called out the president on this terrible trade deal numerous times, and he has yet to give any response to her on the issues she's raised. See her explaining ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) which is needlessly central to TPP below. Read her prepared report which was in response to the president accusing her of being wrong here. Warren is also asking that this trade deal be made public so that Congress and the American People can know what is in it before it gets signed into law. You can add your voice by signing this petition. I am with Elizabeth Warren when she says:
Frankly, "just trust us" isn't good enough - not for a trade deal that multinational corporations have been working on for years while the public has been kept in the dark. -Elizabeth Warren
If you want to go the extra mile, here is a list of Democrats who are considering supporting Fast Track along with their phone numbers so that you can call them directly.
Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) (415) 556-4862
Rep. Ami Bera (Calif.) - 202-225-5716
Rep. Jim Costa (Calif.) - (202) 225-3341
Rep. Jared Polis (Colo.) - (202) 225-2161
Rep. Mike Quigley (Ill.) - (202) 225-4061
Rep. John Delaney (Md.) - (202) 225-2721
Rep. Brad Ashford (Neb.) - (202) 225-4155
Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.) - (202) 225-3461
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) - (202) 225-4811
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.) - (202) 225-0855
Rep. Kurt Schrader (Ore.) - (202) 225-5711
Rep. Jim Cooper (Tenn.) - (202) 225-4311
Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas) - (202) 225-1640
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas) - (202) 225-8885
Rep. Don Beyer (Va.) - (202) 225-4376
Rep. Gerry Connolly (Va.) - (202) 225-1492
Rep. Rick Larsen (Wash.) - (202) 225-2605
Rep. Derek Kilmer (Wash.) - (202) 225-5916
Rep. Ron Kind (Wis.) - (202) 225-5506
The good news is that we still do live in a democracy! Use your voice, be polite and respectful but let your representative know that you'd like them to honor the oath they took to uphold the Constitution, to represent the will of the people, and to be the checks and balances on the Executive Branch. If we don't like how our government is working, it is up to us to change it before it is too late. Participate in your democracy or you may very well lose it.