Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trade, Traitors And Accountability Within The Democratic Party Establishment


A couple weeks ago-- before rubber stamp incumbent Robin Hayes (R-NC) self-destructed ala his ideological sister Michele Bachmann and before the latest polling showed Larry Kissell beating him next Tuesday-- a Democratic Party higher up contacted me in my role as treasurer of the Blue America PAC. "We see," he said, "that your PAC has been raising money for Larry Kissell longer than anyone and that you've been pushing him since 2006. Can you help him now? Hayes is pouring money into negative TV spots and we're getting clobbered."

I offered him a deal. Since the terrible, job-killing trade policies of Bush, the GOP and the reactionary and Blue Dog Democrats is the most important issue in the district, I agreed to go to the Blue America Board if he could persuade Rahm Emanuel-- whose lack of support in 2006 cost Larry the seat-- to admit it was his fault and apologize for his incompetence and agree to never bother Congressman Kissell about voting for any of the kinds of corporate trade legislation he is always shoving down Democrats' throats.

The big shot Democratic insider got back to me in less than 24 hours and said that he could get Emanuel to admit and apologize but that he would never agree to say anything negative about the trade policies he shoves down Democrats' throats. I said "No deal then" and hung up. I did call Jane and Digby and John (the rest of the Board) and we all decided to fund around 3,000 trade policy ads for the last week of the election, all over cable TV and on ABC-TV for the NASCAR races this weekend. Here's the ad:

Interestingly, yesterday's CongressDaily carried a story called Dems' Ads In Tight Races Tap Into Anti-Trade Sentiment by Peter Cohn in which he claimed that so-called "free trade" advocates could face a lonely 111th Congress "if the Democrats' campaign rhetoric is any indication. References to 'job-killing trade deals,' outsourcing and anti-China sentiment abound, with more than 100 trade-related advertisements and counting. If the party makes a clean sweep, 2008 could be similar to two years ago, when 37 House and Senate Democrats opposed to expanding trade pacts like the North American and Central America free-trade agreements won their races, observers say."

This year the DSCC and the DCCC are spending lots of money on ads attacking unfair Republican trade policies but he never actually mentions that the unfair Republican trade policies are also the trade policies of cynical corporate Democrats like Emanuel, Hoyer and their reactionary claque.
"Two years ago [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles] Schumer [of New York] and [then-Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman] Rahm [Emanuel of Illinois] were staying as far as they could away from these issues," said Andy Gussert, national director of Citizens Trade Campaign, a coalition of groups advocating trade reforms.

I don't know if I would describe it as stayed as far away as they could. Emanuel made a point to undercut progressive candidates who disagreed with his trade policies-- like Larry Kissell.
The DSCC charged in an ad opposing Senate Minority Leader McConnell that Kentucky has lost automotive jobs to Mexico and apparel jobs to Honduras as a result of NAFTA and CAFTA, as well as 33,000 jobs to China. "He created jobs all right. Just not here," says the narrator. His opponent's campaign this week accused McConnell of being "a friend of Communist China" based on votes for permanent normal trade relations with that country and other measures. In another DSCC-financed ad, a man refers to Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., as "the senator from China." A DSCC spot promoting former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, who is challenging GOP Sen. Roger Wicker, says the Democrat opposes the trade deals as "job-killers" and will "fight to keep Mississippi jobs in Mississippi." And a DSCC ad for Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley, running against GOP Sen. Gordon Smith, argues Oregon has paid "a very heavy price" for free trade, "with nearly 70,000 jobs shipped overseas."

Trade has also emerged as an issue in roughly 30 House races considered "competitive" by the nonpartisan Cook Political ReportHayes of North Carolina, Tim Walberg of Michigan and Steve Chabot of Ohio on their trade records. "Michigan lost 319,000 jobs due to unfair trade alone," says the latest ad running in Walberg's district. It charges that Walberg "even voted for more unfair trade with South America," noting his vote last year in favor of the Peru Free Trade Agreement, and a vote this year to allow debate on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

And now for the kicker. The Emanuel wing, which is, on trade, essentially identical to the GOP, had an anonymous spokesperson tell Cohn that they are "hopeful incoming lawmakers will moderate their positions after the election." In their universe "moderate" means buckle under to the special interests and leave working families dying on the side of the road. Emanuel and Hoyer maintain their absolute power inside the caucus because of their ability to raise huge sums of tainted cash from The Bad Guys and then to dole it out to other Democrats.

And the above is why it is so important for grassroots Democrats to never cede the party to insider hacks with personal career agendas-- the Rahm Emanuels and Steny Hoyers. This week The Hill explained how progressive activists are getting together to challenge Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party who consistently act in bad faith, nominal Democrats like Dan Boren, John Barrow, Emanuel, etc. This will be, in great part, what the next two years will be about for activists watching closely what the Democrats do with the power being investing in them on Tuesday.

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home