Trade policy in general—and the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement in particular—has become a vital concern for Democrats up and down the ballot.
Just ask Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind, one of the few congressional Democrats who continue to make arguments for agreements such as the TPP.
Kind, who has served almost two decades as the Democratic representative from farm and factory towns of western Wisconsin, did not receive a warm welcome from Wisconsin delegates to this month’s Democratic National Convention.
The headlines told the story:
“Rep. Ron Kind draws anti-trade protest at convention.”
“Chaotic scene: Anti-TPP protesters shout at U.S. Rep. Ron Kind after speech at DNC”
“Protesters shout down Congressman Ron Kind over his support of TPP.”
At a point when Democratic Party leaders (including party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton) say they now recognize the reality that free-trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the permanent normalization of trade relations with China have ended miserably—and that voters do not want another such deal, in the form of the TPP arrangement that is now being considered by Congress—Kind and a handful of so-called “New Democrats” continue to cling to the past.
The congressman is still peddling the same sort of arguments that were once made for NAFTA and trade with China as he now tries to make a case for the TPP. But Wisconsin Democrats came to the convention in Philadelphia to support a pair of presidential candidates who spelled out their opposition to the TPP during the primary campaign.
Bernie Sanders made the issue central to his Democratic presidential bid, which swept Wisconsin and ran especially well in Kind’s district. “The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a disastrous trade agreement designed to protect the interests of the largest multinational corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment and the foundations of American democracy,” said the senator from Vermont. “It will also negatively impact some of the poorest people in the world.”