In February 2008, with only two candidates left in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama distributed a flier to Ohio voters denouncing Hillary Clinton’s support of NAFTA. The pamphlet was deceptive, not because the accusations he leveled against Clinton were untrue, but because it sent a message to workers that the young senator was a strong supporter of union labor and that he was a vigilant crusader against unfair trade practices.
And like so many populist ideals that Obama has championed in public, while repudiating them in private; the position he staked out in the flier was designed to mislead voters, as was evidenced by his tepid support of Wisconsin union members during the battle over Act 10, Scott Walker’s lead-in to the passage of right-to-work legislation. And Wisconsin workers are still suffering the sting of that defeat; one year after Act 10 was enacted, union membership in Wisconsin dropped from 50% to 37%. In fact, under Obama’s leadership, union membership has hit a 100-year low; just one of the many embarrassing records that will taint his legacy.
And the pamphlet’s populist message was the antithesis of the position Obama championed during a 2006 speech delivered to members of the Hamilton Project:
I think that if you polled many of the people in this room, most of us are strong free traders and most of us believe in markets. Bob and I have had a running debate now for about a year about how do we, in fact, deal with the losers in a globalized economy.
And what has become blatantly obvious, the losers he referenced in his speech are members of the American middle-class and the needy.
But Obama’s revelation that he was a free trader -- and not the populist candidate he portrayed on the campaign trail -- belies the assertion that he is, or has ever been, pro-union, and unfortunately for the Democratic Party, union workers – who traditionally have been the party’s strongest ally -- are very cognizant of the massive number of American job’s that have been lost because of the free trade agreements the president has signed.
And during the Hamilton speech, his contempt for average American workers was revealed by the elitist group of people he identified as the real winners in the new global economy:
But Hamilton also feared the common people, dismissed their capacity for self-government and supported rule by elites instead.
That might be enough to deter most Democrats from naming their firstborn economic revitalization scheme after him, but the authors of the Hamilton Project are made of sterner stuff. They include Peter Orszag, an estimable Brookings Institution economist; investment banker Roger Altman, formerly of the Clinton Treasury department; and, chiefly, former Treasury secretary and current Citigroup executive committee Chairman Robert Rubin, whose iconic status within the Democratic mainstream has waxed as the median incomes of Americans under the Bush presidency have waned. Rubin has also become a seal of good housekeeping for Democratic candidates seeking money from Wall Street. When Bob Rubin talks, Democratic pols don't just listen; they scramble for front-row seats and make a show of taking notes.
And then, of course, the global economy collapsed, and Robert Rubin -- one of the main architects of financialization and neo-liberalism -- played a big role in causing millions of Americans to lose their homes and incomes.
But the most dubious assertion made by Obama’s PR team, in the 2008 Ohio flier, was this fabrication:
“When Obama says he will fix our broken trade deals and end tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, we can believe him.”
Unfortunately, it was nothing more than propaganda; but many Democratic voters fell for his shtick, and consequently he shipped 82,000 American jobs to South Korea (KORUS), which many Democrats interpreted as a giant middle finger directed at the millions of laborers who had worked tirelessly to see him elected.
And now, faced with massive resistance to Fast Track and the TPP -- which many predict will be nothing more than NAFTA on steroids –DNC leaders have responded by ignoring constituent pleas, opting instead to seek “a pathway to yes.” And the TPP’s unpopularity hasn’t penetrated the protective bubble shielding the party faithful from reality.
Remember this headline from the Washington Post?
Why almost everyone hates the trade deal [TPP] Obama’s negotiating in Japan
Now it feels as if we’ve returned to 2011; a time when the 99% stood in opposition to Obama and his corporate cronies.
This agreement is so wildly unpopular it begs the question: when did the Democratic Party stop representing the interests of middle class Americans, and morph into a pro-corporate party that embraces job killing, CEO enriching trade agreements? How did we ever become so alienated from our basic values?
As former Obama advisor, Bill Curry recently said: “As it is now organized and led, the Democratic Party is a corrupt and empty husk of an institution;”
And it’s time to pay the piper. The party is bleeding constituents at a record rate.
Right now, voters must choose between the “lesser of two evils”: either elect a Republican Party that has adopted a party platform based on complete nonsensical interpretations of the Bible, or vote for a Democratic Party that has become so soulless, the weight of its own corruption and deceit is causing it to implode.
Take your pick.
Unfortunately, in politics; the party in power wins the loser’s award during times of voter unrest--as was evidenced by the Republican’s fall when G.W.’s house of lies collapsed.
And almost every progressive can see the writing on the wall; the Democratic Party has become so morally bankrupt, it is no longer worthy of respect. That is why Salon magazine recently reported “The Democratic Party is facing a Catholic apocalypse.”
It is the same reason millions of progressives sat out the 2014-midterm elections.
And it is the reason the TPP will cost Democrats the 2016 presidential election if it is enacted.
Even if every Democratic congressman or congresswoman votes against the bill – which they know is extremely unpopular – if it is passed, the blame for the job losses it will create will be owned by the Democratic Party. Obama proposed it, and because he has defied great opposition to ensure that Wall Street interests are protected, and not those of voters at the bottom rung of the ladder, the Republicans will escape accountability; only the Democrats will pay the price for enacting a bill that “everyone hates.”
After having watched 95% of net income generated during Obama’s presidency funneled to his top campaign donors; not many middle-class voters are in the mood to see thousands of American jobs shipped off to Vietnam. NAFTA and KORUS proved that free-trade deals are designed to benefit only the wealthy.
And to put it bluntly: We stopped believing the “hope and change” lie, a long time ago, so there is no reason to believe any sales pitch the president proffers is credible -- especially, anything associated with the new grass roots, populist movement that purportedly supports the TPP. I can’t imagine anything the Democrats have ever posited matching the dishonesty behind that PR stunt.
And now, it’s easy to believe that when history is written, Obama’s rhetoric will serve as an indictment of his own policies. He has enacted almost every conservative program that he promised to challenge or overturn.
Despite his eloquent, feel-good speeches, Barrack Obama is not a populist; he is a neo-liberal, as is Hillary Clinton; and that is more significant than they would have you believe. That is why they have to constantly reinvent themselves to prevent the media from exposing their true ideals.
In an article written for the Guardian, Geoffrey Lean and Yvette Cooper described the basic premise of neo-liberalism this way:
“For 20 years [neo-liberal] economists have kowtowed to the idea that there was a necessary trade-off between equality and efficiency. You could have a fast-growing, efficient economy, they said, or a more equal society - but not both.”
Or, as Margaret Thatcher -- one of the architects of modern neo-liberalism -- described it:
"It is our job to glory in inequality and see that talents and abilities are given vent and expression for the benefit of us all.”
And that neo-liberal wet dream will reach its fruition if the TPP is enacted.
No progressive voter should ever underestimate the significance of this moment. The TPP will alter the political landscape in ways that will cause long-term suffering for average Americans; and the pushback Obama is encountering is a forewarning; he will not be given a free pass like Bill Clinton enjoyed after the failure of NAFTA.
And any informed political observer knows the events surrounding the TPP do not bode well for the Democratic Party.
(all emphasis, mine)