By Jerry Alatalo
uring recent campaign rallies in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has named those state’s companies and numbers of workers laid off after moving operations to Mexico, China and other low-wage countries. He points out the clear difference between his and Hillary Clinton’s records on major U.S. trade agreements that have led to 60,000 manufacturing plants and millions of good-paying jobs leaving America.
Sanders tells people at his rallies that he’s been opposed to each one of “these disastrous trade agreements” from the day he arrived in Congress, and that Clinton has supported virtually every one of them. One could predict the Clinton campaign’s media strategists will soon appear on the boob tube accusing Sanders of “going negative” – by telling the American people the truth.
Ms. Clinton has been captured on videos praising the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) and calling it the “Gold Standard”, then – as the 2016 campaign progressed and her “strategists” realized most Americans oppose TPP – suddenly evolve in her thinking about the proposed, largest trade pact in world history. Now she opposes TPP because, as she explained it, her initial support was founded on incomplete information; after more details became available, she then “understood” and changed her stance by 180-degrees to opposition.
Sanders’ decision to specify the negative consequences of NAFTA – signed into law by Ms. Clinton’s husband during his first term as President – and other corporate-written trade deals will resonate strongly with citizens in states where hundreds, thousands of families faced tough times after fathers and mothers were laid off. The Clinton team will find it difficult, perhaps impossible, to explain away her choice of supporting the trade deals which led to real-life, on-the-ground hardship for millions of Americans.
One can imagine Clinton strategic meetings occurring now, behind closed doors of course, where the discussion focuses on how to deal with Sanders’ successful tactic of naming the companies who’ve moved plants to Mexico, China, etc., the numbers of laid off workers, and specific to the state where rallies are being held. Just a guess, but one can imagine the strategists in the meeting concluding any response or counterattack is a certain losing proposition, so strict silence on trade deals is the best option for avoiding negative publicity and losing voters to Sanders.
The last time an independent candidate for President was able to take part in the final debates was in 1992, when Ross Perot, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were the last three standing. Perot’s leveling with the American people on the proposed NAFTA trade deal produced a for-all-time popular and memorable quote. Perot warned of the massive outflow of jobs from the United States to Mexico if NAFTA legislation became the law, and that once signed the American people would hear a “huge sucking sound” – meaning jobs sucked out of the country.
Ironically, Perot’s candidacy took votes from Bush and helped Clinton narrowly win the 1992 election, and not too long after taking office Clinton signed the NAFTA agreement into law. Perot’s warning wasn’t heeded but prophetic, and the trend of corporate owners’ opting on moving facilities to Mexico rapidly accelerated, leaving regions around the country hard hit by layoffs – most notably in the “Motor City” of Detroit, Michigan.
It’s fascinating to think about what will transpire in the days ahead as Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton vie to become the Democratic nominee for President. It seems the entire country is now electrified, excitedly anticipating every development, and eager to fully take part in determining the “inevitable” outcome.
(Thank you to Bernie 2016 at YouTube)