Lori and I have a new piece up on Foreign Policy in Focus. Here's a teaser:
As the dust starts to settle from the historic election of our nation's first African-American president and first president who ran on fair trade, we have some time to contemplate other impressive changes voters brought to Congress. At least 41 new fair-traders were elected to House and Senate seats, which represent a net gain of 33 in Congress' overall economic justice contingent. This comes on top of the 37 net fair-trade pick-ups in the 2006 congressional elections. These new members campaigned to oppose further NAFTA-style agreements and advocate for positive alternatives that ensure widely shared prosperity. Obama himself made many fair-trade commitments, including a pledge to replace "fast track" trade negotiating authority, renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, and oppose a NAFTA-like pact with Colombia.
In 2009, the U.S. government will be squarely in the hands of people who have contemplated the global economic architecture built up through the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush, and found it fundamentally flawed. Or at least they have realized that an overwhelming majority of Americans have had it with the current "race to the bottom" trade and globalization status quo — and are systematically voting for those who join them in demanding change and against those who want more of the same.
Either way, this is a good thing not only for the millions of people living in this country who have their jobs offshored, wages stagnate, and environmental and consumer protections gutted by current trade policies, but for the billions of people worldwide who have suffered under our country's worldwide exportation of this model.
And Jane Bussey from the Miami Herald reports,
Obama's platform specifically staked out a shift in the trade agenda.
His program included a position that no future bilateral trade agreement could ''stop the government from protecting the environment, food safety or the health of its citizens,'' among other issues.
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, gained little traction with his strong stand in favor of NAFTA and CAFTA, which also includes the Dominican Republic.
Although free trade accords have been narrowly approved for the past two decades -- always with bipartisan support and even when a Democratic president sat in the White House, trade analysts believe the status quo is unlikely to continue...
''The election gives a stronger voice to those who say past agreements have not gone far enough, and the current economic problems can drive us to place more emphasis on domestic programs and less on international agreements and incentives,'' said Gilbert Lee Sandler, one of the founding partners of Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, a Miami-based law firm that specializes in trade issues.