President Obama, Jill Stein, “Free” Trade & Peace

I’ve been wrangling with wondering who to vote for for President on election day. At this point, I think I’m voting for President Obama even though I have been donating to Jill Stein of the Green Party (see its progressive platform here).

The reason I am wrangling is because I believe that the policies of the U.S. have been unethical, particularly with respect to people, animals and the environment, and President Obama has not always chosen the ethical path in the decisions he’s made.

Presidency of the United States is not supposed to be an imperial position. Yes, we can be great, but as peaceful global participants who follow the rule of law and the innate law of universal ethics.

President Obama has not closed Guantanimo Bay even though he has made that promise. And he has not gotten us completely out of Iraq and Afghanistan, militarily speaking. Many private military contractors have remained in Iraq. And in a large percentage of his public statements he continues to unquestioningly use military rhetoric about honoring troops, etc. Potential war with Iran has been floated at various points, too, thankfully always stopped.

In addition, the state of the U.S. economy has been largely determined by our military aggression and harmful “free” trade agreements. “Free trade” sounds nice, right? Freedom being free & all? But as many people found out on both sides of the border between Mexico & the U.S., the NAFTA free trade agreement only served to weaken domestic protections of various markets in both countries to the benefit of elite “players.”

I remember when President Clinton continued pushing NAFTA (President Bush Sr. initiated the process). I blindly thought that President Clinton was just another nice Democrat like Jimmy Carter and that he was working on an agreement to benefit the people of the U.S. I remember reading about Pat Buchanan, of all people, railing against NAFTA and I so I immediately felt that it was OK to support it due to my distaste for Buchanan. I was incorrect.

NAFTA harmed Mexicans so much that millions of them had to leave Mexico to try to find work up here in the States. I stayed with a Mexican coffee farming family in Tanetze, Oaxaca, and they were affected by this for a while. Many of the men of the village had to leave because the price of coffee went down to a couple cents a kilo. Also the U.S. sent its subsidized corn down to Mexico, undermining the domestic corn producers, a significant cost. These are a couple anecdotal facts to serve as heuristic indicators of the types of damage a “free” trade agreement has tended to cause.

NAFTA was huge, had a huge impact on the way we live. A lot more Mexicans live in this area of the United States now and a lot of this was due to NAFTA. Not that I’m against immigration, but it did have an impact and there was a reason for it.

You’d think we would’ve learned not to have so much trust in these types of agreements but President Obama’s administration has been working on scores more “free” trade agreements.

In October 2011, President Obama signed three more agreements with Korea, Columbia and Panama.

And tomorrow through September 15, representatives from nine countries are working on the fourteenth round of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). 

Critics of “free” trade agreements have tended to believe that the agreements are just negotiations that help transnational corporations and not the vast majority of people they affect–that the agreements tend to strip away the rights of people and the environment.

It’s important for us to ask questions of our President and to have long memories and really dig around and find out what the facts are. I don’t know of a single person in my casual circles who now thinks NAFTA was a good idea. So can we start asking about this tentative Trans-Pacific Partnership and find out what it would really mean for us, for people around the world, and for the environment?

I’m thinking that by voting for President Obama yet donating to both Jill Stein and President Obama, I am perhaps helping President Obama move towards the left by giving him some competition. This will move him and future Democratic presidential candidates to become more progressive, less warlike, and to better serve the broadest base of people and the environment.

~ Lady