The early morning headline on Wednesday morning, May 13, 2015 read “Senate deals stinging defeat to Obama trade agenda“. The initial perception is that Democrats broke rank with their own President and vociferously fought him on a measure that would ultimately lead to the passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) . Both TPP and TTIP are viewed as job-killers for Americans and a loss of sovereignty for America. But, there is more to this story
[Reposted from Local Activist | Pat Wood | May 13, 2015]
The Senate’s vote effectively blocked further consideration of so-called Fast Track legislation that would pave the way for TPP/TTIP to be passed under special rules that would virtually guarantee passage. Normally, any trade agreement requires a 2/3 vote in the Senate, after extensive debate and potential amending. Fast Track drops the vote requirement to a simple majority, limits debate to only 20 hours and forbids amendments. Many correctly view this as a power grab by the President and a abdication of Constitutional authority and responsibility by the Senate.
The backstory is that other groups were working behind the scenes for an extended period of time to scuttle both Fast Track legislation and the passage of TPP and TTIP.
One such group is a grass-roots organization known as the Coalition for a Prosperous America, or CPA. Founded in 2007 by a group of American businessmen, farmers, ranchers, labor representatives, economists and other activists, the Coalition has been astutely led by its CEO, Michael Stumo. Their focus is centered squarely on trade policy that is geared to prosper and protect American businesses and workers.
Over the last 18 months, Coalition members across the country met in person with their respective Congressmen and Senators to educate, persuade and erect a barrier against the passage of Fast Track. Collectively, over 300 meetings were tallied and their effort and persistence paid off.
“Without our economy-wide coalition, advocating for the national interest, it would be hard to see how we would have had a chance to stop fast track,” Stumo said.
Does local activism work? Yes, but it takes a clear strategy and a continuous effort.
There are key elements in this endeavor that should be emblazoned in the credo of every local activist.
Presence – You simply have to show up and make yourself known. One person walking the halls of Congress is more valuable than one million people sitting in their living rooms complaining about how bad Congress is.
Position – You have to know precisely and definitively what your position is. You cannot articulate what you don’t understand.
Passion – People who exhibit passion about their beliefs are the only ones who are taken seriously and listened to. If you don’t really believe in what you are doing, then don’t do it.
Persistence – Don’t give up after one attempt to influence your audience. Keep showing up time after time, clearly presenting your position with as much passion as you can muster.
Those who support Fast Track, TPP and TTIP are deterred but hardly defeated, and it is expected that another attempt will be made to force Fast Track legislation back to the floor of the Senate for a general vote. However, Stumo and his coalition remain fully mobilized to insure another “stinging defeat to the Obama trade agenda.”