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Kevin Zeese Optimistic About Stopping TPP Fast Track, but Shouldn't Be

metamars's picture

An email today from the Green Shadow Cabinet contains a link to Fast Track Is Not A Done Deal, The People Will Stop It

The byline says, "There is bi-partisan opposition in Congress to Fast Track and a large movement of movements mobilized to stop it."

When you read the article, however, you find:

roughly 30 House Republicans are already on record opposing the trade legislation.

and a link to an anti-TPP-Fastrack Letter signed by "most Democrats".

I counted the signees, and there's 151 of them. So, that is, indeed, "most Democrats".

Now, some math:

151 + 30 = 181. This is obviously considerably less than half of the 435 legislators comprising the US House of Representatives.

Gee whiz, with the math lining up like this, what could possibly go wrong?

I think if Zeese and other anti-TPP activists had taken the book "Nine things successful people do differently" to heart, they would instead be flashing neon alert signs (so to speak), saying something like "We need 300 legislators (including a comfortable margin of safety) in the House who are committed to rejecting economic treason, and any fast tracked trade agreements, and so far we only have 60% of them. Are YOU willing to help get us the numbers we seek?"

While Zeese article contains some encouraging news, e.g. "The AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka said unions oppose the trade deals and will put resources into a campaign to stop Fast Track. ", beside the adverse mathematics I mention, there is this mind-boggling paragraph:

A major opportunity to show our opposition to Fast Track and stop these trade agreements will be in New York City. A meeting of trade negotiators for the TPP has been scheduled for Jan. 26-Feb. 1. It will take place at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel in midtown Manhattan. They are pushing hard to complete the negotiations and a protest at this event will let trade negotiators know that the people say “No Fast Track, no way, not ever, not today.”

Is it just me, or does anybody else see that protesting to people who certainly know that they are in the business of screwing over the American public is a fool's errand? Zeese appears to have no concrete goal about anti-TPP meme penetration amongst the voting public (which would clearly be a mistake; again, see 9 Thing Successful Peopel Do Differently), which is the way to go.

All of which may fail, anyway, without credible electoral threats. (For multiple references, see my diary
Towards Mobilizing Successful Activism Against the Plutocracy, especially "Twisting Your Congress Critters’ Arm – A Goldilocks’-Sized First Step In Domination by the Electorate (Short Version)" )

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jo6pac's picture
Submitted by jo6pac on

The AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka said unions oppose the trade deals and will put resources into a campaign to stop Fast Track.

sure but isn't dick the one that came out for aca even if it meant F$$$$$$ over membership?

I do know that the Longshoremen & Warehousemen left membership in afl-cio because of that.
They don't care at the top of the unions it's all about sell out the members, sounds like demodogs.

metamars's picture
Submitted by metamars on

Yves Smith posted Is the TransPacific Partnership Being Brought Back From the Dead? yesterday, as well. It's actually mostly about the Japanese not being on board, but she concludes with:

Even though the degree to which Froman has overplayed his hand is turning out to be a huge benefit to US citizens, relying on his continued ineptitude is still taking a risk. When you have time, please call or write your Representative and Senators and tell them how you and people you know are clued into how terrible the TransPacific Partnership is. Remind them it will be used to weaken banking regulations and you don’t want them to be approving pro-bailout policies by supporting the TTP and the TTIP.

However, more concerning is the first comment of Clive, "NC's man in Tokyo", whose words actually comprised about 40% of the main diary. He says,

If it wasn’t for agriculture and related products being deemed by the U.S. as a “must not capitulate” area for an agreement (for some bizarre reason), a TransPacific Partnership deal with Japan would almost certainly have been done by now.

(emphasis mine)

This comment just underscores my point about Zeese being dangerously optimistic about stopping TPP. What if, to secure his "legacy", Obama just concedes to the Japanese concerns about agriculture?

From "Nine Things Successful People Do Differently", the chapter called "#4 Be a Realistic Optimist":

One of the clearest illustrations of the dangers of unrealistic optimism comes from a study of weight loss. Psychologist Gabriele Oettingen asked a group of obese women who had enrolled in a weight-loss program how likely they felt they were to reach their goals. She found that those women who were confident that they would succeed lost twenty-six pounds more than self-doubters, as expected.
But Oettingen also asked the women to tell her what they imagined their road to success would be like—if they thought they would have a hard time resisting temptation, or if they’d have no problem turning down free doughnuts doughnuts in the conference room and a second trip to the all-you-can-eat buffet. The results were astounding: women who believed they would succeed easily lost twenty-four pounds less than those who thought their weight-loss journey would be no walk in the park. She has found the same pattern of results in studies of students looking for high-paying jobs after college, singles looking to find lasting love, and seniors recovering from hip replacement surgery. Realistic optimists send out more job applications, find the courage to approach potential romantic partners, and work harder on their rehabilitation exercises—in each case, leading to much higher success rates.

Halvorson, Heidi Grant (2011-10-24). Nine Things Successful People Do Differently (Kindle Locations 184-194). Harvard Business Review Press. Kindle Edition.

metamars's picture
Submitted by metamars on

I want to offer another perspective regarding why I find Zeese's optimism to be woefully off the mark. The fact that TPP has taken longer to shove down our throats than the Administration expected actually represented potential opportunity. Were those opportunities exploited, with the same zeal and flexibility that a guerilla fighter in an asymetrical conflict would manifest? Specifically, there were opportunities to

a) pursue getting numerically comfortable amounts of firm commitments to defeat any fast tracked "trade agreements" (in a realistically optimistic way)
b) make Congress critters who do not support the American working class + national sovereignty so toxic that they cannot win re-election (regardless of the fate of TPP in Congress; and regardless of what they say or do on any other matter.) These people deserve to be dealt at least a punitive vote in primaries. (I commented on disruptive voting strategies here.)
c) drive the approval ratings of the Democratic and Republican parties into the toilet, since neither party has officially renounced the TPP negotiations (Where are the 3rd party only folks when you need them?)
d) mobilize and recruit the public into a more broad-based, multiple-initiative anti-plutocratic force ("If we have Congress critters who were willing to sell us out with TPP, what other issues are they willing to betray us on?")

I'm not casting aspersions on Zeese's good intentions, nor on his willingness to WORK towards socially useful goals. Nor am I doing so wrt any other anti-TPP activist or organizer.

I am, however, making honest evaluations of where they are going wrong and/or falling short. It should be clear that my criticism is constructive, in that I point to what could be done, instead, going forward.

Ultimately, of course, this is the responsibility of all adult Americans......

metamars's picture
Submitted by metamars on

d) mobilize and recruit the public into a more broad-based, multiple-initiative anti-plutocratic force ("If we have Congress critters who were willing to sell us out with TPP, what other issues are they willing to betray us on?")

Zeese, et. al., have apparently done a very good job in getting a very broad based coalition of groups organized against TPP. That is not what my point d) addresses. My point d) is about using TPP hanky-panky as the tip of a recruiting spear, to recruit the public to signing onto working with some other anti-plutocratic groups (whose main issue might be single payer health care, public banking, etc.). E.g., the organizations that Zeese,, have so successfully gotten to ally.

Submitted by lambert on

To me, the obvious way to stop TPP is to do a strange bedfellows coalition on the issue of national sovereignty (a right wing hot button), as opposed to my own view of just saying it doesn't conform to "public purpose," as previous trade deals show.

Ultimately, though, I don't want to spend my time stopping things but starting them. Concrete material benefits are where it's at, in my mind....

metamars's picture
Submitted by metamars on

I view TPP as a qualitatively different issue than most others, including other anti-plutocracy initiatives. That's because it's mucking with the the very foundations of sovereignty and means of citizens redress.

Whatever things you wish to start, you will need buy-in, hence both outreach to, and recruitment of, the public, to make them matter. I don't know the details of what, exactly, you wish to start, so I can't comment on possible synergies with respect to recruitment that exist (but mostly go untapped, AFAICT) into the anti-TPP "coalition of coalitions".

However, as a general matter, it seems to me self-evident that recruitment into constituent coalition groups is a natural subgoal, as well as low-hanging fruit, for anti-TPP recruitment. At least for the large number of American citizens who, while they may also have adult responsibilities, most likely do not include civic responsibilities (other than paying their taxes and voting in general elections every 2 years) among them.