Grassroots efforts needed to stop treaty

August 14, 2016
E. Joy Arnold

All due respect to volunteers recruited to work this season, election campaigns are the parties of democracy. The much-longer movement-building is what it takes to have a functioning democracy; that’s hard work. Hard work, but vital if it is democracy we want and not the illusion we live under.

The election of candidates is not a gift to them to do with as they please; it is an assignment to them to do what constituents tell them to do for the common good. In a functioning democracy the voters must assume the role of the strict teacher, with a pointer.

We elect people to represent us. Yet, we’ve learned that most of them represent corporations and people of wealth who contribute millions to their campaigns.

The epitome of the corporate oligarchy we actually live in is the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a trade agreement negotiated in secret and drafted by corporate representatives, without involvement by our elected representatives.

Now before Congress, it can receive only an up or down vote, no debate, no amendment, thanks to the passage of the “fast track” process voted for last year.

Treaty supporters are hoping to get a vote on the agreement during the lame-duck session of Congress, right after the election when many could not be held accountable for their actions. Some will not be around come January, leaving us with the damage they’ve done.

In order to obtain trade provisions with 11 Pacific Rim countries, our representatives will be voting away our sovereignty in favor of an investor-state dispute resolution process, enhanced even beyond the one in NAFTA.

A democracy’s judicial system will be supplanted by a tribunal of attorneys who represent the corporations who would bring them disputes when laws or regulations interfere with the ability to increase profits.

Corporations will be able to evade our laws on environmental protection, climate change, worker safety, buy-American preferences and prescription-drug costs.

Now is the time to do the real work of a democracy. Not only can we ill afford to sit this election out, we cannot let our work stop when the votes are in. If, indeed we want a revolution — and we do need one — it must begin in us. The first step must be to insist candidates for federal seats oppose a lame-duck session vote on TPP and that the new Congress votes it down.

The history of our country can be told by a study of movements to enlarge the number of those covered by the democracy. Now is the time to advance the movement against the non-person — the corporation.

We must educate ourselves, not to the level of experts, just in the basics. Sadly, we cannot rely on what the administration says about the TPP. One of the most reliable sources is Public Citizen. Second, we must talk about it, get the subject out there — insist that the media tell us more about it — to help others learn.

Use your social media, but don’t think any movement can succeed in front of a computer. We have to talk to the voters and make this the issue on Nov. 8. And then we must remind the elected of their assignment until trade agreements are negotiated for the good of their people, not in the interest of increasing corporate profit.

E. Joy Arnold of Midway is chair of Central Kentucky Move to Amend.

 

Groups audience: