In Your Hands: One Massive Political Object Lesson

By occupostal for Occupy World Writes.

tpa-vote

Friday’s House of Representatives vote against Trade Promotion Authority was a mixed victory, which some (like me) would say is a temporary one. The House had split TPA into two parts, unlike the Senate which had passed it—the second part being for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) to fund retraining for job loss from the TPP. That’s the part that had Democrats angling to defeat the two-part “fast track” package—because on that vote they’d be joined by more Republicans who on ideological principle would vote against TAA along with them. One part goes down, the whole deal does. And that’s what happened.

For now. A re-vote on TAA is scheduled for Tuesday. Either the battle will be turned then, or the war will go on until a probable victory–even if it has to be later than sooner–for TPA and at least some of the trade agreements in its wake become a reality. I haven’t changed my mind on inevitability since Friday morning’s post Is It All Over But the Denying?

So the question is, what’s a 99-percenter citizenry going to do in order to turn the tide of trade dealing that’s swamping our lives?

The obvious answer lies in the reflex we too readily write off as union-avowed threats and pipe-dream vengeance: Throw the bums out! Target the ones who voted against us and for the TPA, and inevitably those trade agreements that will follow it, because their personal benefit is more important than the “general welfare” that should be their concern under the Constitution.

This answer is neither too obvious nor too fanciful. And if pulled off, its practical effect is bound to be a wakeup alarm to political business as usual.

Be pragmatic, and focus on the Democrats who voted for the TPA in the Senate and in the House. Find their names in the Senate here and in the House here. (But watch the next vote on the TAA in the House, since it may add new Democratic reps if it passes, rather than just the same ones that helped push the TPA vote to success.)

When each one’s seat is up for re-election, help mount a primary challenger. If you live in a representative’s state but not his or her district, or in the next state over from a senator, contact and help out the primary in question closest to you. We’re all in this together.

Then vote for the Democratic challenger, if you’re eligible.

That’s it. Straightforward steps are hard work but can pay off big. If anything close to a full sweep of primary challenges were to be successful—the effect would be devastating to the political system, probably beyond anything the Tea Party has managed. It would shake up the usual politicking strategies of congressional representatives—which only intersect statesmanship when such strategies also help turn their jobs into careers—and will make politicians think twice before repeating the same maneuvers very often. It doesn’t even matter if a successful primary challenger is elected to office and still doesn’t prove to be ideal in championing your concerns—the point will have been made. And it can be repeated.

Such a bold reaction to what is happening to our lives at the level where people have to work for a living, is not (I repeat) fanciful. Start to think clearly, get organized and plan effectively. It’s a big project—replacing 14 senators and at least 28 representatives. But it is do-able. It is only timidity, and a rationalizing fondness for your own rep, that weighs down the project. Focus instead on this: When your politician makes a really big, crucial mistake in representing your interests, it should be a job-killer for him or her. It’s the negative of the “halo effect”–in which the impression of one good performance trait overrides others that are poor—and so you have to stand firm and act on it. Think of your children, disciplinarian: “This is going to hurt me more than it is you…”

And note that once realized,this likely isn’t a project we’ll have to repeat en masse again. Citizen voters will have set a new tone, a new vision of their government in which it actually does belong to “we the people.”

So get ready and set to go. We’ve nothing to gain but a democratic republic.

 

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