Bernie Sanders has gone from fighting for every last delegate in the primaries to fighting for every last sentence in the DNC platform. His attempts to get Democrats to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal have failed, but he’s counting victories in campaign finance reform, the minimum wage, and even Wall Street reform. Sanders insists there’s still work to be done, but the big question for the party is how much they must go to the left to earn progressives’ support.
Bernie Sanders stated bluntly in a op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer the need “to make it clear that the Democratic Party is strongly opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
“Let’s be clear: The trade agreement is opposed by virtually the entire grassroots base of the Democratic Party.”
Still, DNC delegates from Clinton’s camp have been shooting down amendments to oppose the TPP.
One said the Democratic Party would oppose voting on the TPP during the upcoming lame-duck Congressional session after the November elections. That was voted down, and Sanders does not understand according to his op-ed.
“Frankly, I do not understand why the amendment our delegates offered on this issue in St. Louis was defeated with all of Hillary Clinton’s committee members voting against it. I don’t understand that because Clinton, during the campaign, made it very clear that she did not want to see the TPP appear on the floor during the lame-duck session.”
Hillary Clinton’s relationship on the TPP has been complicated. While serving as Secretary of State in the Obama administration, Clinton supported the trade agreement, calling it a “gold standard” in trade deals. Then, after the full text was released, she claimed that the deal did not turn out to be what she expected. That led her to officially oppose the TPP during the election, but her delegates appear to be contradicting her stance.
The TPP and foreign trade are difficult topics to tackle. Labor unions are opposed to trade deals in general, but their views aren’t representative of the American population. According to a poll from Pew Research last year, 49 percent of Americans support the TPP, while only 29 percent oppose it. The remainder had no opinion on the trade deal.
Furthermore, 65 percent of young people age 18 to 29, a demographic block that favors Bernie Sanders, supports the TPP, while older people tend to have less favorable views. The Pew research is supported by policy polling from Gallup, which found that the majority of Americans still see foreign trade as an opportunity rather than a threat.
So why does Bernie Sanders oppose the TPP?
The Senator outlines 10 reasons in a policy document. They range from risking fair wages for U.S. workers to rewarding authoritarian regimes, like in Vietnam, despite their long-standing human rights violations.
The TPP document itself is over 2,000 pages, across 30 chapters and several appendices covering a huge range of topics. Given the complexity of the document and numerous economic unknowns, the full effect of the treaty won’t be realized for many years, if it is approved.
In the meantime, Bernie Sanders faces an uphill battle to oppose it. The Vermont senator did have some positive things to say about the DNC platform though.
His op-ed touts victories on social security expansion, campaign finance reform, and Wall Street reform, including a mention of a modern Glass-Steagall law.
“These are all major accomplishments that will begin to move this country in the right direction. I congratulate Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.), chairman of the Platform Drafting Committee, and all 15 members of the panel for their hard work.”
Bernie Sanders still has a way to go, but the compromise progressives will eventually have to consider is not looking entirely dismal.
[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]