Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine recognize the political necessity of opposing the agreement, but have not yet acknowledged how harmful “free trade” agreements generally are to democracy.  (Photo: AP)

What to Make of VP Pick Tim Kaine's Reversal on TPP

In a representative democracy, the idea is that the representatives should support the preferences of their constituencies. This is what is happening with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential pick, Tim Kaine has reversed his position from supporting TPP to opposing it. He had praised TPP as recently as Thursday. He has changed his position on TPP, and good for him for doing so.

Kaine had to change his position immediately after being chosen as Clinton’s VP pick. This is what happens when people organize and make their voices heard. This is the power of the progressive movement.

This is the new Democratic party — recognizing reality, and starting to listen to the voices of working people again. (Starting to, but certainly not all the way there yet.) Clinton and Kaine recognize the political necessity of opposing the agreement, but have not yet acknowledged how harmful “free trade” agreements generally are to democracy. The core idea of these agreements is that countries surrender their sovereign power to impose tariffs and other trade limitations, when determined to be in their own national interest. In other words, they agree to place the interests of corporations above the wider interests of the nation-at-large and their people.

Credibility Against Trump

Kaine’s shift from supporting TPP helps Clinton’s credibility on the issue. Donald Trump is running as a self-described “free-trader” who happens to oppose TPP. He says Clinton is only “pretending” to oppose TPP. It is important for Clinton that Kaine also voices opposition to TPP. Unfortunately she continues to defer to President Obama’s continuing support for TPP, not yet calling on Obama to withdraw the agreement from consideration by Congress.

Roger Hickey, writing in Two Democratic Parties in Philadelphia: They Must Unite And Beat Trump. says, “Now Clinton and Kaine need to take their opposition to TPP into the campaign, showing Sanders voters – and voters in industrial states tempted to go for Trump – that they really mean it when they say they will stop the TPP.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s VP nominee Mike Pence still supports TPP.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson is a former Senior Fellow for the Campaign for America's Future & Renew California.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Cleaner Air Is Coming' as London Expands Vehicle Pollution Fee to Entire Metro Area

"Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year because of long-term exposure to air pollution, with the greatest number of deaths in outer London boroughs," noted Mayor Sadiq Khan in announcing the expansion.

Brett Wilkins ·

'Amazing News': Historic Shark Protections Approved at Global Wildlife Convention

Up to 90% of sharks targeted by the lucrative fin trade will now be protected, said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·

'The Nightmare Materializes': Far-Right Extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir to Be Israel's National Security Minister

The Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Palestinian Authority said Ben-Gvir's elevation to national security minister could have a "catastrophic impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Jake Johnson ·

Raging Wars, Soaring Hunger Put Women and Girls in Crosshairs, Warns UN

"A toxic mix of crises—conflicts, climate, skyrocketing costs, and the ripple effects of the Ukraine war—are inflicting a devastating toll on the forcibly displaced. This is being felt across the world, but women and girls are particularly suffering."

Brett Wilkins ·

Greta Thunberg Joins 630+ Young People in Landmark Climate Lawsuit Against Sweden

"The Swedish state fails to meet the constitutional requirement to promote sustainable development leading to a good environment for present and future generations," said the plaintiffs.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo