In 2003 - 2004, I was on the phones and on the internet urging Democratic presidential candidates to repudiate "Free Trade" and offshore outsourcing and the "guest worker" (H-1b, L-1) visa programs used to facilitate offshore outsourcing. The campaign managers and advisors kept activists like me at arms length. They wanted us to attack Republicans and deliver support (money and votes) while their candidates reassured business lobbies (as far away as India and China) that any positions they took were just posturing for the angry ill-informed workers.
Hell, when John Kerry had a chance to deal with the offshore outsourcing jobs issue in a national debate, he quickly stated that he would not "pander" to people who were opposed to free trade. (This went over real well with workers who were looking for something more than a slick facile slogan like "outsource Bush"; it may have cost Kerry the election.)
In short, Democratic Party presidential candidate Kerry tried to use the Offshore outsourcing/free trade issue in '04 but found that such positions upset his richy-rich business contributors so he backed off his "Benedict Arnold" rhetoric and tried to have it both ways. I noticed it, people on my email lists noticed, blog posters noticed it and even the business press in the U.S. and offshore noticed it. People do catch on...
And, where is John Edwards the sometime critic of NAFTA and "free trade" today? He's talking about "Two Americas" but nary a word about offshore outsourcing of American middle class jobs. Oh yea, he did have time to visit rich high tech CEOs in the Silicon Valley to explain how he supports their "need" for more imported "replacement workers", I mean, "guest workers" because there's such a skills shortage what with all the American IT workers who have been fired by the thousands. (Nah, Edwards didn't say that last part; I was just being sarcastic.
Sadly, Obama, is also courting the richy-rich business groups who are benefitting from offshore outsourcing American jobs and importing lower-wage "guest workers". Yea, his campaign was stupid, rude and irresponsible in the Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab) comments but it's unfortunate that Obama felt compelled to drop the whole issue of Hillary and Bill's ties to the elites benefiting from American job losses.
So, just because sometime Republican voters are disenchanted with free trade and offshore outsourcing, Democratic candidates have to be able to offer some credible alternative. They failed to deliver this in '04 and, at this point, they're not doing any better in '07. In fact, they're doing worse: they haven't even opened the subject.
Unfortunately, real democrats like Bernie (technically an "I") Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Jim Webb and Byron Dorgan are not among the presidential primary contenders. If they were, we'd have some people who could effectively and credibly debate the offshore outsourcing and worker replacement issues.
As it is, Hillary Clinton's alleged differences with her husband on trade and labor issues (played up and exaggerated in the WSJ) are unbelievable -- IMO mere positioning to win over labor and Democrats. Hillary is as "DLC" and tainted with pro-outsourcing lobby money as they come. She's even carved out a special niche supporting the expansion of the worker replacement visas...
Originally posted to Jonathan Tasini's site as a comment on, "Democratic Golden Opportunity: Republican Voters Oppose "Free Trade
"Who among the Democratic presidential candidates has the credibility to do anything about this?Definitely, NOT HILLARY CLINTON.
Labels: 2008 election, Democrats, fair trade, free trade, Hillary Clinton, jobs, NAFTA, offshore outsourcing, offshoring, Republicans