By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
In short, China will present a miserable dilemma for Democratic presidential candidates Al Gore and Bill Bradley, who fecklessly endorsed China’s WTO membership bid before Seattle. The unions supporting Gore and the enviros supporting Bradley will be pushing them in one direction, their finance capos in the other. (Example: L.A.‘s richest Democrat, National Convention Committee chairman Eli Broad, is a huge shareholder in AIG Insurance, which forecasts fortunes from the Chinese insurance market.) For Gore, the problem may be particularly acute. The China vote is likely to come early next year, at the very moment he needs unions assistance in California, New York and the industrial Midwest.
Can the unions be so dialectical that they can mobilize their members for Gore at the same time they’re mobilizing them against a deal Gore supports?
Hegel wasn‘t that dialectical.
How else can the Greenie-Sweeneys impact the election?
Alas, there isn’t a fair-trader in the whole bunch of presidential candidates, except Pat Buchanan. But one thing the core Democratic constituencies can do is try to get the Democratic presidential -- and, for that matter, senatorial and House -- candidates to commit themselves to the position that Bill Clinton took on Super Tuesday last week, when he told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that he not only supported global labor standards, but believed that nations that flouted them should have sanctions applied to them, just as nations that violate property rights do now.
Okay, Clinton‘s own Cabinet secretaries didn’t pay him any heed. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky immediately assured her fellow trade ministers that that was just the president talking, that she would never insist on such a thing, and what she said went.
In a sense, Seattle presented Clinton with his greatest challenge in triangulation yet: His (and the Democrats‘) core supporters were in the street, his (and the Democrats’) money guys were holed up in their hotel rooms, with diametrically opposed positions. In a faint echo of 1968, when Clinton demonstrated against the war while in Britain, but still worked to preserve, as he wrote at that time, his “viability inside the system,” the president strove mightily to bring street and suite together. His final gambit was to embrace the street‘s position almost entirely, letting his underlings tell the suites that he didn’t really mean it.
But why shouldn‘t the Democrats take the president’s rhetoric seriously? Gore and Bradley may well be lost causes on the China deal, but why not try to save them from their own worst instincts on free trade generally? Greenie-Sweeneys should push them, and the party platform, to embrace the Clinton Post-Intelligencer position. Injecting some binding standards, some environmental protection, some worker rights into the laissez-faire global economy would conform Democratic global policy with long-standing Democratic domestic policy. If the polling is to be believed at all, it would also be a widely popular position -- one that could be favorably contrasted with the Republicans‘ anything-for-a-buck approach to the New World Order. Two key Democratic-leaning constituencies that don’t vote a whole lot -- blue-collar workers and kids -- might even turn out in greater numbers this November. (Did I mention that‘s who the sit-downers were in Seattle? Kids.)