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The negotiations and the sales push behind Washington’s latest (and biggest) “free-trade” agreement amount to Kabuki theater.
What theater? Kabuki. It’s a 17th century form of Japanese drama, featuring elaborate sets and costuming, rhythmic dialogue, and stylized acting and dancing. That does sum up the White House’s production of the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Its negotiations have been set in luxury resorts around the world, covered by elaborate secrecy; insiders wear the costumes of global corporate power, while trade officials parrot rhythmic dialogue about incredible benefits for all; and the President himself is the main actor, dramatically proclaiming that TPP is “the most progressive” trade deal ever, and now he’s doing a stylized political dance in hopes of winning congressional approval.
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What a show!
But it doesn’t seem to be selling. Recent polls show broad public opposition to any more of these trade schemes, not only among Democrats, but independents and Republicans, too. Ten of the 2016 presidential candidates are opposed, led by Democratic contender Bernie Sanders (who calls it flat-out “disastrous”) and GOP front-runner Donnie Trump (who dubs it “a horrible deal”). Congressional opposition is strong, and even Ford Motor Company – which was one of the corporate giants allowed inside the negotiations – has blasted it, calling on Congress to vote no.
Inexplicably, Obama views passage of this democracy-strangling corporate boondoggle as his “legacy-making” achievement, even though the only real support he has for it are Republican congressional leaders and the global corporate establishment. That’s not just Kabuki, it’s kooky. As the old aphorism puts it: “Tell me with whom you walk, and I’ll tell you who you are.” To keep track and get involved, go to www.citizen.org/trade/.
“If There Really Is a Final TPP Deal: Can It Pass Congress?” www.alternet.org, October 6, 2015.
“CWA Statement On The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Reached In Atlanta,” www.cwa-union.org, October 5, 2015.
“Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “Free Trade” Agreement: Talking Points,” www.citizen.org.
“Trans-Pacific Partnership Is Reached, but Faces Scrutiny in Congress,” www.nytimes.com, October 5, 2015.
“10 Presidential Candidates Criticize the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Upping Political Costs of Supporting the Pact,” www.citizen.org.