On November 10, 2015, Big Apple Coffee Party, Unitarian Church of All Souls Peace & Justice Task Force and Lifelines Program sponsored a forum on the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Who Wins and Who Loses in This Secret Deal?, featuring:
Lori Wallach – Director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch
Margaret Flowers – Healthcare reform activist and co-founder of Popular Resistance
Kevin Zeese – Political activist, leader in the drug policy reform and peace movements and co-founder of Popular Resistance
Jim Hightower – Syndicated columnist, author and publisher of the Hightower Lowdown
Moderated by Zephyr Teachout – Assoc. Professor of Law at Fordham University, CEO and chair of the anti-corruption nonprofit Mayday PAC
The panelists spoke about the ramifications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, gave examples of new practices that will be enabled by the TPP, and got us fired up to act. Information about the deal itself can be found on the sites provided, but we wanted to put together an action takeaway from the evening.
1. Pressure Congress
2. Educate the public to pressure Congress
3. Raise visibility to defeat the press blackout on this issue
PRESSURE CONGRESS, GET THEM TO COMMIT TO VOTE NO
- Don’t trust any members of Congress (we learned this in the Fast Track fight). A promise isn’t a vote.
- Put together a small delegation to see your Congressperson. Try to get a diverse group – maybe some workers, some business people, a faith leader or two. If the elected official doesn’t commit to vote for their constituents instead of their contributors, tell them you’ll be back with twice as many people. Keep doing it. This lets them know you’re organizing in their districts.
- Organize constituents to hang out in Congresspeople’s (or Congress Critters as Jim Hightower called them) offices. Just sit in the waiting room – but get people to do it in shifts so someone’s there continually for a while.
- Take visual aids or props on visits. In Oregon, people brought toasters to Sen. Ron Wyden’s office to point out he was going to be toast for his role in the Fast Track fight.
In New York:
- Pressure those who voted for Fast Track. In NY State, it’s US House Representatives Peter King, Kathleen Rice, Gregory Meeks, Elise Stefanik, Richard Hanna and Tom Reed II. Two of those are NYC Democrats – Rice & Meeks. By contrast, 5 NY State Republicans voted No. Both NY Senators voted NO
- Pressure Sen. Schumer. He voted against Fast Track and has said he opposes the TPP, but he needs lots of pressure to keep him on the straight and narrow. He’s powerful, so if he will do it, he can be really helpful in whipping others in Congress to be active against the deal
EDUCATE THE PUBLIC TO PRESSURE CONGRESS
- Tell 5 people about this assault on citizens (the TPP) and aim them at their Congressperson
- Bring the outsiders (us) in to pressure lawmakers
- Talk about the deal to everybody – at work, at church, at school, in clubs (Rotary, Kiwanis, sailing clubs, book clubs, even on the street
- Pass out cards or flyers on the street or malls - anywhere
RAISE VISIBILITY TO DEFEAT THE NEWS BLACKOUT ON TPP
- Put up signs on highway overpasses – regular banners(daytime) and lightboad signs (night)
- Stage theatrical actions - In Mauii, during TPP negotiations, a convention was called of conch blowing (a practice of native Hawaiians). It resulted in 500 conch shell blowers trumpeting together at 5 AM near the negotiators’ hotels
- Pass resolutions in local government against the TPP. Many cities (including NYC) have declared themselves TPP-free zones to show their opposition. Albany County has issued a proclamation against the TPP. NY State Senator Hamilton has a letter that he’s asking NY State Senators to sign on to in opposition. Food & Water watch has more information on this.
- Tuesday TPP action – during the Fast Track fight, Popular Resistance asked activists to pledge to do something each Tuesday to oppose the TPP. See some of the things that have been done on their site. Keep this up.
The deal won’t hit Congress this year. Its supporters will bring it when they think they have the votes. The earliest possibility is February, 2016. Beyond this, it’s guesswork. Given the election schedule, there’s a window of opportunity for TPP after Super Tuesday, in mid-March of 2016. If they can’t push it then, the lame duck session of Congress after the elections in November is the next probable opportunity. Sen. Orrin Hatch is already talking about pushing it to 2017. Whatever they do, we have to be prepared to counter whenever it shows up. Many trade deals in the past have been defeated by delay, there is almost never an out-and-out defeat. We have to keep stopping them every time they think they can go ahead.
Most of all, the speakers wanted to remind us that we can act and we must act. The TPP can be defeated!
Stand up for the right to be a self-governing people. Who are we going to be? Are we for economic justice and equality? Inequality doesn’t just happen, it’s created by decisions – like this.
Obama (and other politicians) can’t say they’re against inequality, but for the TPP. Call them on it.
THIS IS A FIGHT WE MUST WIN. IT WILL EITHER KEEP GOVERNANCE IN THE HANDS OF US, THE PEOPLE, OR GIVE IT TO GLOBAL CORPORATE CONTROL. NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT.
Radio — SiriusXM radio broadcast the forum live on “Make It Plain," hosted by Mark Thompson. If you are a subscriber, look for it at siriusxm.com in the on demand section. If not, you’ll have to take a trial membership to get access. The show can be listened to, but not downloaded, as far as we know.
Video — the event was filmed by Joe Friendly, videographer. It will be available on YouTube. We will post links when they are available.
ORGANIZATIONS WORKING AGAINST THE TPP:
Tradejustice.net (Trade Justice NY Metro)
Jim Hightower’s site: http://www.jimhightower.com/
Aug. 2015 Hightower Lowdown issue on TPP: http://www.hightowerlowdown.org/stopTPP#.Vkdc1HtSZ5o
Mayday PAC (Zephyr Teachout, CEO & Chair): https://mayday.us/. The organization at this link works through electoral politics. The Big Apple Coffee Party is a non-partisan, issue-oriented group. We provide this link as a courtesy to our speakers and audience. The Big Apple Coffee Party does not endorse any of the candidates found on this site.
ONLINE PRINT RESOURCES:
Washington Post’s tool to search the TPP text for words: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/11/05/we-made-president-obamas-big-tpp-trade-deal-searchable/
Global Trade Watch's point-by-point text analysis: http://www.citizen.org/documents/analysis-tpp-text-november-2015.pdf
Downloadable anti-TPP cards to pass out: http://www.occucards.com/images2/21-tpp.pdf. Printed cards also available to buy through flushthetpp.org. Look for occucards.
Clearingthefogradio.org – Radio show w/ Kevin Zeese & Margaret Flowers. Searchable archives. Kevin Zeese suggested we search for Global Redesign Initiative to find a show on the effort now underway to minimize the power of nation states (where citizens have power) in favor of multi-national corporate structure (where citizens don’t.)
ENTERTAINMENT FROM EVENT NIGHT:
Public Citizen’s TPP lyrics to Jackson Five ABC – Corporate Power Tool of the 1%: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SOokUdKYcM
Owen Crowley’s TPP lyrics to Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off – Shake It Off – Break the TPP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_Z1B1t5Fuk
Additional media links:
Raging Grannies (not NY chapter) Flush the TPP song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybOhszqc23U
Funny explanation of the deal from Australia: http://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/tpp-ttip-tisa-isds-acronyms-to-end-democracy/
Stop the TPP song sung at Japanese TPP protest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opI5ytzccyI