The Right to ‘Disagree,’ Colltalers
No one knows why President Obama seems to believe that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement will be approved by Congress before the end of the year. Or his term, for that matter. He should review what happened to the Obamacare for measure.
If his signature bill took most of his two terms and it’s still periodically challenged, despite having some significant public support, why would it be any different with the unpopular and, in certain instances, downright wrong approach to free trade, the TPP?
Even though it involves a record 12 nations, in the largest regional trade agreement in history, secrecy covering its 5-year negotiation period seemed to indicate that a lot that was being discussed would not exactly favor the interests of citizens around the world.
When a draft of its content was finally released, a few weeks ago, and some of those fears were confirmed, general suspicion over the rush to give it only 60 days for debating it, sending it for approval in Congress, and turning it into law, made even more sense.
For since early drafts were leaked this year, it became clear that this was a far-reaching accord requiring closed-door deliberations, in order to be ironed down according to the specifications of some of the world’s biggest multinational corporations.
That was never a recipe for guaranteeing rights and safeguards to the interests of the public. Now that much of those early suspicions have been confirmed, opposition to its approval will most likely
grow, a fact that the president should be well versed on.
From labor organizations to food safety groups, from AIDS and low-cost generic medicines advocates, to free Internet defenders and environment activists, there seems to be a large swath of civil and minority rights willing to raise up their voices against the agreement.
If it’s reasonable to expect that corporations will fight tooth and nail to reduce costs and optimize profits, it’s also fair to expect that people who may be directly affected by a lowering of standards of their living and working conditions would be up in arms too.
Problem is, this fight is anything but fair, and while the big industry has the luxury of counting President Obama as an ally, common citizens and advocates have only a limited arsenal to provoke debate and challenge the TPP. Their proverbial ‘power in numbers’ platform may be hindered if the very tools of such power are strangled, as it would if the Internet, for instance, becomes private and ‘priceable.’
Shouldn’t the president, with exactly a year left in office, rather perfect the few things he got right, ask many hoping he would turn his attention to worthier causes, instead of being spokesman of an agreement with already so many fathers that his role will probably lose any meaning over time? Aren’t better, more humanitarian fights to list on his resume, and prescribe as legacy highlights, than this?
What about redirecting the Dept. of Justice’s priorities, for instance? Or consolidate diplomatic achievements of his foreign policy, so his successor would have no choice but improving it, instead of promising to dismantle it, as GOP candidates are saying they will?
It’s been said on this space that he’s a puzzling president, who seems to enjoy keeping his constituency always unsure as to whether give him unwavering support, or wait on the sidelines to see where he’s going with his latest moves. His support to the TPP proves the point.
Even the radical right core of the Republican Party, all for corporation rules and tax exemptions to the top less than one percent, and all that, has shown lately that they may not be on the same page as the president when it’ll come time to approve the agreement. Why? Just because it’s President Obama, for heaven’s sake, isn’t that already clear? But they will eventually turn around, of course.
There are no doubts troubling progressive organizations, always on the lookout for signs of the corporate finger over public policy. There’s no question about their weariness about the ultimate goal of this ‘free’ trade agreement. Why can’t the president take a page of theirs, or even his own, playbook, and check when their caution was unfounded, or when he got the support from the political right, like, ever?
To take on the hairy problem of health coverage in this country, the president counted with a record mandate, and at the time, a seemingly endless political capital. The fact that what came out of an excruciating battle, with all concessions he gave to an unwavering opposition, is still an often unaffordable system, far from the quality and accessibility of other major economies, should offer him a sobering example.
President Obama should snap out of this ridiculous cheerleading role, and focus instead on helping elect people who could take further ahead the more progressive issues of democracy, voting rights, right to assemble, free expression, that he’s arguably failed to advance.
After all, Wall Street, big corporations, the professional racist politics aimed at him can no longer touch him, and he may as well step down as a humanistic leader who pursued environmental protection laws, restored decency and proper decorum to the office of the presidency, and helped start a healing process between the U.S. and the nations that supported and fell slighted after the 911 attacks.
It’d be the least that he could do, since he won’t prevent weapon sales to human rights-abusing countries such as Saudi Arabia, or reengage parts of the world, such as Latin America, which were either relegated to the sidelines or heavy-handed by his administration. For Argentina, specially, it’d be a timely opportunity since it’s just elected the star technocrat of its conservative opposition, Mauricio Macri.
A week from today, he could start his honorable discharge from office at the Paris Conference on Climate Change with new environmental initiatives and a reasonable record to back them up. A lot of positive things can be accomplished in a year, rather than support interests of the still highly profitable American corporations. As for the TPP, we’re glad to disagree with this agreement. Enjoy the last of November. WC