CommunityPam's House Blend

Facing South on CAFTA

Facing South gives a tally of the Dems that went over to the dark side to vote for this completely destructive mess that is CAFTA. Chris Kromm is absolutely right when he says that the Dems that voted for this really stuck a hot poker in the eye of blue collar Southerners. If the party ever hopes to regain the South, it’s not going to do it with this kind of vote — which will destroy what is left of any credibility that the party is for the working family. These Dems cozied up to the corporate interests and the voters will have a long memory.

Bush and the GOP leadership may have had to fight hard to win over half of the Southern Republican delegation in the textile belt, but they didn’t have to lift a finger for the other Southerners central to this drama: Southern Democrats.

Eight out of the 15 Dems who cast their lot with this dubious corporate-written trade pact were from the South. Here’s the list of CAFTA supporters in the House from the “party of opposition”:

Melissa Bean (IL)
Jim Cooper (TN)
Henry Cuellar (TX)
Norm Dicks (WA)
Ruben Hinojosa (TX)
William Jefferson (LA)
Jim Matheson (UT)
Greg Meeks (NY)
Dennis Moore (KS)
Jim Moran (VA)
Solomon Ortiz (TX)
Ike Skelton (MO)
Vic Snyder (AR)
John Tanner (TN)
Ed Towns (NY)

There was no political reason for these votes. None were in danger of losing their seats from an anti-CAFTA vote.

In fact, given that all of the Southern states they represent have been ones that have suffered greatly from past “free trade” deals, this could have been a great way to appeal to blue-collar and middle-class voters. Here’s how many jobs have been lost to NAFTA in their states –and these are just numbers up until April 2001, before the Bush recession displaced thousands more workers made vulnerable by NAFTA and other pacts:

Arkansas: 9,829 jobs lost from NAFTA, 1993-2000
Louisiana: 6,613 jobs lost
Tennessee: 25,000 jobs lost
Texas: 41,067 jobs lost
Virginia: 16,758

Also, none of these Democrats are exactly fighting for their political lives. Inspired by David Sirota, an analysis of their 2004 election margins reveals that all of the Southern Democrats who voted for CAFTA got into office with over 55% of the vote — a virtual landslide.

So these Democrats voted unnecessarily voted for an undemocratic, corporate-written global investment deal guaranteed to alienate hundreds of thousands of working families in the South — just the people Democrats need to win over if they hope to have any future in the region.

More on the CAFTA aftermath here.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding