Outrage over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the outsourcing of American jobs fueled the populist uprising that swept Donald Trump to victory in 2016.
Now, NAFTA is poised to be a central issue in the 2018 midterm elections, providing lethal ammunition for the populist-nationalist insurgents in their battle against candidates of the corporatist establishment.
The stage was set for the showdown when President Trump made good on his campaign promise to renegotiate NAFTA.
Those negotiations were supposed to wrap up this year. But Mexico and Canada have rejected U.S. proposals to make the agreement a better deal for American workers and businesses.
The talks will now stretch into next year and statutory requirements for Congressional review dictate that Congress will be debating the new NAFTA just days before voters go to the polls next November.
As the Wall Street Journal reports: “Delayed NAFTA Talks to Seep Into Political Races Next Year in U.S.”
We’ve seen this movie before.
In 2016, candidate Trump railed against NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), also known as “Obamatrade,” for destroying the jobs and dreams of Americans. Blue-collar voters from across the political spectrum joined his movement and carried him to the White House.
Next year, populist-nationalist candidates will back President Trump’s wildly popular proposals for a new NAFTA deal that brings jobs back home and benefits American workers.
The administration’s proposals for the new North American Free Trade Agreement state that:
- In order to qualify for preferential tariff rates when imported into the U.S., automobiles made in Mexico must have a higher percentage of parts made in the U.S. than they do under the current deal.
- International tribunals that exist under the current agreement would become voluntary, so foreign companies would not be able to do an end-run around U.S. courts, sue American taxpayers for damages, and even overturn our laws.
- American workers and businesses would be first in line when the U.S. government spends tax dollars to purchase goods and services, thanks to stronger “buy American” provisions.
- The agreement would include a sunset clause, so any new NAFTA would be regularly revisited and renegotiated every five years.
The corporate business interests that covet cheap labor through outsourcing and unrestricted immigration have joined with Mexico and Canada in opposing President Trump’s America first NAFTA 2.0 proposals.
As the Wall Street Journal reports:
The [NAFTA] issue could put Republicans in the position of having to make a complicated choice between free-trade policy backed by the [globalist] Chamber of Commerce … and Mr. Trump’s ‘”America first” policy, analysts say. Former White House aide Steve Bannon, a leading skeptic of existing U.S. trade agreements, has vowed to back alternatives to the traditional Republicans running for re-election to the Senate next year.”
The pro-Donald Trump Super PAC “Great America PAC” is building a slate of candidates to run on President Trump’s America First platform.
So far, it has endorsed candidates for Senate including former State Sen. Kelli Ward in Arizona, businessman and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Kevin Nicholson in Wisconsin, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn in Tennessee, State Auditor Matt Rosendale in Montana, State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in West Virginia, and former Chief Justice Roy Moore in Alabama.
NAFTA will be a central issue in the campaign and these candidates will have a golden opportunity to draw a distinction between themselves and Establishment candidates, between policies that support working Americans or elite donors, higher wages or cheap labor, economic patriotism or corporate globalism.
Thanks to the efforts of Stephen K. Bannon and the League of Extraordinary Candidates, the American people will have a clear choice in 2018.
Curtis Ellis is the founder and chairman emeritus of the American Jobs Alliance, an economic nationalist trade non-profit. He and his organization were instrumental in building public awareness about the “Trans-Pacific Partnership” that lead to that trade-deal’s defeat. He served as senior policy advisor on the Donald J. Trump for President campaign and Presidential Transition Team. You can find his work at http://www.americanjobsalliance.com/.