PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told supporters at the Democratic National Convention on Monday night that their “political revolution” had succeeded in forcing the party to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade deal that is opposed by organized labor (and has also been criticized by Republican Donald Trump as unfair).
The problem: Sanders mis-characterized the Democratic Party’s platform, which does not specifically oppose the TPP.
In his address to the convention, and to the nation, Sanders claimed: “Among many other strong provisions, the Democratic Party now … calls for strong opposition to job-killing free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.” The crowd cheered.
But here is what the 2016 Democratic Party platform actually says about the TPP. Note that it lays out a series of guidelines that it says the TPP must follow, but does not conclude that the TPP actually violates them, or that it must be opposed:
While we believe that openness to the world economy is an important source of American leadership and dynamism, we will oppose trade agreements that do not support good American jobs, raise wages, and improve our national security. We believe any new trade agreements must include strong and enforceable labor and environmental standards in their core text with streamlined and effective enforcement mechanisms. Trade agreements should crack down on the unfair and illegal subsidies other countries grant their businesses at the expense of ours. It should promote innovation of and access to lifesaving medicines. And it should protect a free and open internet. We should never enter into a trade agreement that prevents our government, or other governments, from putting in place rules that protect the environment, food safety, or the health of American citizens or others around the world.
These are the standards Democrats believe must be applied to all trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Throughout the day on Monday, Sanders delegates protested against the TPP from the convention floor. They interrupted Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), for example, because he chaired the platform drafting committee and excluded opposition to TPP.
On Monday evening, on the convention floor, a union member from the Illinois delegation complained that union leaders had sold out the anti-TPP cause in the platform drafting process: “The people up there? I know a few of them. And they voted ‘no’ [on opposing the TPP]. The union people, the leaders, the international presidents. And that’s wrong. You know, they tell them: ‘We’re against the TPP!’ But then — but why — you’re afraid to put it in the platform? Why? What ‘s wrong with them?”
“If they had any balls at all, any backbone, anything … but to say it, to protect your ass, they make it look like there’s credibility.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.