Since the 90's, countless working-class voters have shifted to the Republicans - we think of them as the "moral values" voters. What caused these people to lose faith in the Democratic Party as the party that protects their jobs and their well-being?
Many of these people don't follow politics in the slightest, but there is one issue they recognize, and they blame Bill Clinton for - NAFTA. When you say NAFTA, they hear LOST JOBS. And now, the issue is back again, with a vengeance...
Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, an opponent, said that if a vote were held now on the Central American Free Trade Agreement, 195 Democrats and more than 60 Republicans would reject it, well more than enough to defeat the measure in the 435-member House.
"If CAFTA weren't so wrong-headed and opposition to it so deep, Congress would have voted on the bill shortly after the president signed it" last May, Brown told a large anti-CAFTA gathering including farm-state lawmakers from both parties, Democrats with ties to organized labor, and groups representing agriculture, labor, religious, human rights and environmental interests.
House Republican leaders, meanwhile, held a strategy meeting with business groups, ambassadors and administration officials -- including Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez -- to discuss how they are going to win the vote that the leadership says they would like to hold next month.
For one reason or another, there are issues that grab the attention of the dkos community, and there are those that don't. Many Kossacks, king crab in particular, have called attention to this issue in recent weeks, and their diaries are worth reading for more details:
The time for action is NOW. This is not an issue we need to educate the voters on; millions of working-class voters already know what they think of NAFTA. This is the time for Democratic politicians to stand up and declare that our party represents the working class, and that on this issue they care about so deeply, we have their backs.
Let me be very clear about something. I know there are many Kossacks who support "free trade" and who can articulate economic arguments in favor of CAFTA. But that is not the point. THIS IS A POLITICAL DIARY, NOT A POLICY ONE. If the Democrats are to regain power in this country, they need to reestablish their credentials as the party of the working class. We can sit up on a high horse and watch more elections slip away while we tell them "Sorry, this is what our economic textbooks tell us" - or we can promise to fight for their rights.
The policy arguments do not matter. There are literally MILLIONS of working-class people who already have their minds made up on this critical issue. The question for every Democratic Congressman and candidate is clear: Will you represent these voters, or will you let someone else do it?