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Time to Change the Failing Status Quo

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As Bob Dylan once said, "The times, they are a-changing."  The status quo of the past two decades is finally being challenged and the tide is turning in favor of a "fair trade" policy that puts American interests first rather than the failed policy of unfettered "free trade" which brought this nation the North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Trade Organization and other fatally flawed trade regimes. 

According to Public Citizen, in 2008 fair traders continued a trend that began in 2006, trouncing "free traders" in election contests from Maine, to Oregon, to New Mexico to Ohio.   

Overall, the 2008 election resulted in a total of 43 free traders being elected to Congress, which is five less than the 48 that were sent to Congress in the 2006 midterm election   

In the U.S. Senate, seven fair traders in total were sent to the upper chamber by the American people, for a net gain of seven seats held by fair traders.  In all, five "free traders" were defeated.  Two fair traders won open seats.  And two retiring "free traders" were replaced by fair traders.   

The defeats were staggering for those that defend the failed status quo. Some of the biggest names in American politics were granted early retirements by the American people because of their unfailing support for policies that inevitably lead to Americans losing jobs.   

In North Carolina, one of the biggest names in the Republican party Elizabeth Dole, the wife of the former Senate majority leader, vice presidential candidate and presidential candidate Bob Dole, was defeated by virtual unknown Democrat Kay Hagan. Hagan hammered Dole for Dole's unwavering support of "free trade" despite the fact that it resulted in the decimation of the state's textile mills through globalization.

In Alaska, the longest serving Republican member of the U.S. Senate was defeated even though there was a fellow Alaskan at the top of the ticket.  Ted Stevens, the seventh longest serving senator in history and one of "free trades" biggest cheerleaders was upset by Democrat Mark Begich.   

In the house, a total of 36 fair traders were elected for a net gain of 26 seats held by those who opposed the failed policies that have destroyed America's manufacturing base.  Overall, 13 "free traders" were defeated by fair traders.  20 fair traders took open seats and three contests pitted fair traders against each other.   

Two of the most fulfilling victories for opponents of unfettered "free trade" occurred when voters rejected the two Representatives that cast the final and deciding votes for passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.  Reps. Phil English (R-PA) and Robin Hayes (R-NC) were both soundly defeated as their opponents consistently hammered them on the campaign trail for their illogical support of policies that send American jobs oversees.   

All told, fair traders have gained a net total of 72 seats in congress since 2006.  However, there is still a long way to go.  Many wrongly believe that "free trade" is an absolutely wonderful thing that will enrich the lives of everyone involved.  The truth is, "free trade" forces American workers to compete with Third World children making less than $1 per day while working in deplorable conditions.  There is absolutely nothing "free" about that.  Just ask the laid off steel or textile worker how much the loss of a good-paying job has cost him or her.   

However, there is hope.  Public opinion is slowly changing and the makeup of congress is changing with it.   

"The salience of trade reform in the U.S. election parallels growing demand worldwide for reform of the current international economic architecture comprised by institutions such as the WTO," Lori Wallach wrote on the Huffington Post.  "With global financial, food-price and climate crises dominating the news and bringing the downsides of this globalization model into everyone's homes, U.S. candidates calling for new approaches found a ready audience, and now they must deliver."

 

Dustin Ensinger graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Political Science. He is a contributing journalist for EconomyInCrisis.org.

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