The Return of the NAFTA Election Cycle?
(Disclaimer: Public Citizen has no preference among the candidates.)
As we throw out the old calendar and enter an election year, Democratic and Republican party leaders are busy figuring out their electoral strategies. Various Democratic strategists, for their part, are running through the familiar arguments about appealing to independent voters versus rallying the base. Arguing for a rally-the-base approach, Democratic strategist Steve Rosenthal reminds us that voters punished the members of Congress who pushed though a bad trade pact one fateful election cycle:
In 1994, the year Republicans swept to power in the House and Senate, union members were demoralized and stayed home because the
administration had fought vigorously to pass NAFTA and backed down on health care reform. Clinton
Economist Paul Krugman also argues this NAFTA point while discussing the
Republican strategy: “The idea that NAFTA was a big plus for
Fortunately for everyone involved, the choice between fair trade and NAFTA-style agreements is not a choice among appealing to liberal, conservative, or moderate voters. Polls have demonstrated that voters of all stripes are fed up with the NAFTA model, particularly in swing states. Fair trade candidates elected in 2008 now have the seats in Congress to prove it, which makes clear that support of the NAFTA model is a losing strategy, while supporting the TRADE Act might be a way to win.