Posted 3 months ago on April 29, 2014, 7:41 p.m. EST by flip
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RALPH NADER: Yes. You’ve got to think of politics in America now as two stratas. On the top, dominating the left-right emerging alliance, are the corporate powers and their political allies in the Congress and elsewhere. And what we’re seeing here is a corporate strategy of long standing that fears a combination of left-right convergence on issues that would challenge corporate power. So, they really like the idea of left-right fighting each other over the social issues. They really work to divide and rule these left-right public opinion and representatives. And so far, they have been dominant, the corporatists.
But they’re beginning to lose. And we have enough historical evidence to show that the tide is running against them. For example, on the minimum wage fight, that comes in 70, 80 percent in the polls, which means a lot of conservative Wal-Mart workers think they should get a restored minimum wage, at least to what it was 46 years ago plus inflation adjustment. That would be almost $11 an hour.
The left-right alliance is coming through at the state legislative level on juvenile justice reform and addressing the whole problem of prisons in our country. Newt Gingrich and others have started a group called Right on Crime. And the progressive forces are working hand in glove with right and left state legislatures, and they’ve gotten through some bills in over a dozen legislatures.
The third area where it’s breaking through, the left-right alliance, is to block the further expansion of these globalized trade agreements. The Pacific trade agreement, which is being negotiated with Asian countries by President Obama, is not going to be blocked under an opposition in the House of Representatives to fast track. In other words, Republicans and Democrats, I think, have about a majority of the House, even defying their leadership in the Democratic and Republican Party, Boehner and Pelosi. They have enough votes right now to block a fast-track, zip-through-the House trade agreement. And that’s a left-right.
A little over a year ago, there was almost a majority vote in the House to block the NSA from dragnet surveillance. That was a bubbling up of public opinion, going from the grassroots all the way to the House of Representatives, in defiance of Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
So we’re seeing this emerge. And if we really want to get things done in this country, long-overdue redirections, then we better pay attention to this emerging left-right alliance that I describe in detail. There are 25 areas of left-right convergence in this country, and they represent a majority. That’s why I called the book Unstoppable. And all we need now is to start the conversation level locally, have it bubble up into the media—the media sort of likes this idea of unlikely allies, especially at the local level—and have it move into the political stream and then put it on the table, all these issues, for the electoral campaigns that are coming up.
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, I want to go to this global issue of the TPP, because over the weekend President Obama spoke to young leaders during this town hall-style meeting at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His talk was briefly disrupted by peaceful protesters holding up signs denouncing a sweeping new trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership—the TPP often referred to by critics as NAFTA on steroids, as you were talking about, establishing a free-trade zone that would stretch from Vietnam to Chile, encompass 800 million people, about a third of world trade, nearly 40 percent of the global economy. Obama defended the TPP.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The trade agreement that we’re trying to create, the TPP, part of what we’re trying to do is to create higher standards for labor protection, higher standards for environmental protection, more consistent protection of intellectual property, because, increasingly, that’s the next phase of wealth. All those things require more transparency and more accountability and more rule of law. And I think that it’s entirely consistent with Malaysia moving into the next phase.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s President Obama in Malaysia. Who is advising President Obama on TPP? The unions? Environmental organizations? Ralph Nader.
RALPH NADER: Well, they can’t get back through the secrecy of these negotiations in these drafts. As Lori Wallach of Global Trade Watch has pointed out repeatedly, even members of Congress couldn’t get the draft negotiations from the TPP, although the corporate lobbyists have access to these drafts. But it’s quite clear that the TPP is nothing more than an extension of NAFTA and the World Trade Organization on steroids.
And here’s where we have a left-right alliance, each one with their reason. On the left, they’re opposed to these agreements because they’re bad for workers; they’re bad for the price of medicines being affordable, under the intellectual property rules that are being negotiated; they’re bad for open government; and they’re bad for the environment. On the right, they don’t like these trade agreements because they shred our sovereignty. I happen to agree with that, too. All international treaties reduce sovereignties, by definition. But this one, these trade agreements are the greatest usurpers of local, state and national sovereignty in American history. And so, we have this growing alliance. And, by the way, it goes back to documents like the 2002 Texas Republican state platform, that was dead set against these trade agreements on sovereignty issues.
So, I don’t think President Obama is reflecting his campaign assurances in 2008 when he said he was going to work to revise NAFTA and WTO for better environmental, labor and consumer protections. He hasn’t done that for WTO or NAFTA, and he’s not doing it for this trans-Pacific trade agreement.
........................................... AMY GOODMAN: And yet, interestingly, talking about the left-right alliance, although I’m not exactly seeing left here, but Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat; Judd Gregg, New Hampshire Republican; Spencer Abraham, Michigan Republican, former energy secretary; and William Daley, the former chief of staff of Obama, being—starting this new lobbying effort for the nuclear industry.
RALPH NADER: Yeah, and there—
AMY GOODMAN: And since we just have two minutes, if you might pivot to the issue of militarism, which you take on in your book, Unstoppable?
RALPH NADER: Well, a lot of these coalitions are funded by the nuclear industry themselves. By the way, there is a corporate-liberal convergence with corporate conservatives for years. That’s what’s driven this country into the ground—corporate liberals like the Clintons and corporate conservatives like John Boehner, etc.
The militarism part is another invitation for an emerging left-right alliance. Barney Frank, Congressman Barney Frank, left, and Ron Paul, Congressman Ron Paul, Libertarian, got together in 2010 to develop a caucus against a bloated military budget and the militarism that comes from it. That’s an example in Congress of a far larger number of left-right convergences being repressed by their leadership, which has other corporate campaign cash incentives in mind. So what we’re seeing here—listen, even after 9/11, there was a public opinion poll saying that we shouldn’t do war on Afghanistan; we should pursue the backers of 9/11, bring them to justice, but not this massive invasion of Afghanistan. And for years, left-right public opinion polls have said we should get out of Afghanistan. So there is a large, emerging left-right alliance here against militarism. It was against the invasion of Iraq by Bush and Cheney—the unconstitutional, criminal invasion of Iraq. You had over 300 retired generals, admirals, national security leaders and diplomats speaking out against it before the invasion in March 2003, and they were Republicans and Democrats.
So there is this huge potential here to turn this country around. I don’t sugarcoat the obstacles in this book, Unstoppable. I go into them one after the other, and how we can overcome them and how we can establish a new political realignment here. We have enough historical precedent of successful left-right breakthroughs. We’ve got to break through to the political and electoral sphere here and start turning the country around.