CHICAGO – Trade policy – and specifically, opposition to our current trade policy – is one of the most volatile issues in the uprising that I describe in my book. Across the political spectrum, opposition to pacts like NAFTA and China PNTR is strong, and getting stronger. You see this from the anti-globalization protests on the Left, and Minuteman protests (which I disagree with) on the Right. Underneath it all is a feeling that our international economic policies are designed to enrich the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.
This was the topic of my latest newspaper column, which looks at how Barack Obama has a huge opportunity to use trade against John McCain – if he decides to shun the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party and adopt a more populist posture on kitchen table economic issues. I discussed this assertion on Fox Business yesterday from Chicago. Watch it here.
Progressives have a strong case to make on NAFTA and trade policy in general – a case that can help us win this election. We’ve learned time and time again that when there is a strong progressive pressure system demanding Democrats take majority positions on key issues like trade and the war, we not only get closer to concrete change, but we also win elections.
I’m heading to Ohio tomorrow for a series of events with Progress Ohio (full schedule here), and I expect NAFTA and trade policy in general to be a major topic of conversation, especially considering THE UPRISING’s chapter on Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown – one of the country’s greatest fair trade leaders.
And while we’re on the topic of Brown, he’s involved in some very good news as it relates to the presidential election and trade.
According to the Windsor Star, the Obama campaign asked Brown to lead a campaign-sponsored conference call with reporters to hammer John McCain for his support of NAFTA. Obama has done a bit of a dance around trade issues – but it’s a good sign that he’s asking such well-known fair trade leaders to effectively speak for the campaign on the issue. In doing so, Obama is moving closer toward embracing the uprising, which is a marked change from the Clinton era, when Bob Rubin and the Establishment were the major "progressive" voices on globalization. Here’s hoping we get more power-challenging messages out of Obama as this campaign heats up.