Thus, the Republican Party didn’t just surrender on all efforts to stop President Barack Obama’s disastrous and unconstitutional Executive Amnesty on immigration. It has used the opportunity to support giving the President expedited powers to negotiate the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership "free trade agreement," in the form of the proposed Trade Promotion Authority [TPA]. A key vote is expected on Tuesday (Obama’s Pacific Trade Push Faces a Senate Vote This Week, by Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Jonathan Weisman, New York Times, May 10, 2015).
From a constitutional point of view, the proposed TPA powers are a nightmare. They allow the Executive Branch to create ever-shifting binding agreements with foreign powers that will not be subject to Congressional approval. Congress will only be able to vote agreements up or down, instead of being able to offer amendments.
Furthermore, ceding such powers to Barack Obama guts the constitutional objection to Barack Obama’s Executive Amnesty. After all, if Congress doesn’t feel itself capable of reviewing legislation on something as important on trade, why should it have any input on immigration?
It’s hard to analyze objectively the agreement because we aren’t actually allowed to know what it says. Specifically, the Trade Promotion Authority would be used to speed through the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade deal with 11 “Pacific” countries—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
The details of the proposed agreement are classified and will not be revealed to the public [Extreme secrecy eroding support for Obama’s trade pact, by Edward-Isaac Dovere, Politico, May 4, 2015]. The deal also contains language about a “living agreement” that allows the exact provisions to be changed after it is implemented.
As more than one critic has noted, there is an easy comparison to what Nancy Pelosi said about Obamacare—we have to pass the bill to find out what is in it.
But that may be understating the case. Even after we pass it and find out, it might be changed later.
What’s worse, only two Republican Senators (Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Mike Lee of Utah) have confirmed that they bothered to read the trade deal they will be voting on this week. Both Sessions and Lee have declared they will vote against it [Only two Republicans admit they actually read secret Obama trade deal—both unsupportive, by Matthew Boyle and Alex Swoyer, Breitbart, May 7, 2015].
Jeff Sessions points out that the Trans Pacific Partnership could be used to bring more immigration to the United States, especially by inserting language to bring more foreign workers to the United States as part of trade deals [Trade pact foes: Deal could cause flood of immigrants, by Seung Min Kim, Politico, May 5, 2015].
Yet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is putting his full influence behind the measure, allying with President Barack Obama against some of the conservatives in his own party as well as the bulk of Democratic Senators, who are now raising objections [McConnell tees up trade war, by Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett, Politico, May 7, 2015].
Politically, this is gratifyingly precarious. Despite President Obama’s heavy lobbying, opposition to the trade deal has revitalized the Left, with voters from liberal districts opposing the deal [Trouble on Obama’s left flank: Liberal opposition mounts to free-trade deal, by Dave Boyer, Washington Times, May 7, 2015].
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has loudly proclaimed her resistance.
Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (Cognitive Dissonance, Vermont) has framed the trade deal as an attack on the middle class and American workers [Bernie Sanders urges Hillary to fight trade deal, by Kevin Cirilli, The Hill, and April 17, 2015].
Former Maryland governor and riot-plagued Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley condemned the secrecy of the process and says he is against it [Martin O’Malley says Congress won’t see Pacific trade deal before they vote on it, Louis Jacobson, Tampa Bay Times, April 23, 2015].
Former Virginia Senator and Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan James Webb has also stated his opposition to the TPP as he prepares his own run for President [Webb joins Democrats questioning Obama trade plans, by O. Kay Henderson, Radio Iowa, April 27, 2015].
Even Hillary Clinton is putting some distance between herself and the President on the issue [Hillary Clinton praises President Obama, but not on trade, by Gabriel Debendetti, Politico, April 22, 2015].
Of course, any and all of this opposition should be taken with some skepticism. After all, when Barack Obama was a candidate, he condemned NAFTA on the campaign trail even as his advisers assured foreign countries he didn’t really mean it and was just fooling the rubes [Memo gives Canada’s account of Obama Campaign’s Meeting on Nafta, by Michael Luo, New York Times, March 4, 2008].
The race riots and identity-obsessed politics of the multicultural Left have left the GOP as to emerge (mostly undeservedly) as the de facto “white party” or GAP (Generic American Party). But opposition to these kinds of trade agreements allows the Democrats to cut into the white working class vote that Republicans so desperately need if they want to remain competitive in national elections.
Candidates like Sanders, O’Malley and especially Webb could attract just enough white support to make a Republican victory impossible. Even Hillary Clinton knows how to blow a dog whistle to attract, in her words, “working, hard-working Americans, white Americans.”
Of course, this is an easy move for Republicans to parry. All they have to do is adopt the “National Conservative” model championed by Senators like Sessions and hinted at by candidates like Rick Santorum, in which conservatism is defined as a defense of American workers and opposition to plutocratic policies.
With the hard Left’s increasingly shrill and anti-white ideology forcing the Democrats into one unforced error after another, the GOP simply needs to avoid confirming the caricature of themselves as corporate stooges.
And—naturally—they can’t do it. As outlined, the GOP leadership in Congress is already working closely with President Obama to force through this trade legislation against the President’s own party. Of more concern, leading Republican candidates, including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, and even Ted Cruz, now support the legislation [Rick Perry Comes Out in Favor of Obama Trade Deal, by Alex Swoyer, Breitbart, May 7, 2015].
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose electability will in large part depend on his ability to attract white working class voters and Reagan Democrats in the Rust Belt, also has spoken favorably about the deal, though he left himself just enough wiggle room about the “details that need to be worked out” [TPP Proponents close to Clinton remain optimistic about her support, by Lee Fang, The Intercept, April 24, 2015].
As the 2012 election showed, the Republican Party cannot defeat the Democrats by offering the same old program of tired Beltway Right rhetoric mixed with economic appeals to the rich. However, the Democrats’ Social Justice Warrior (SJW) activism and anti-White appeals have given the GOP a golden opportunity to win over working class white voters necessary to build a new governing coalition.
But the Republicans need to offer workers something to vote for. Championing fair trade and immigration patriotism—American jobs for American workers—is the only way the GOP can consolidate the White vote it needs to win national elections.
And if the GOP refuses to do it, and tries to keep the Conservatism Inc. con going for another cycle, they may find their voters staying at home (again)…or abandoning them for new representation.
James Kirkpatrick [Email him] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc.