1. Kill the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a dangerous trade deal negotiated between Obama and American corporations. Often called “NAFTA on steroids” or a “corporate Trojan horse,” the TPP basically grants corporations their own sovereign powers and governmental protections. What’s worse, is that these negotiations have been done in secret from the public and even Congress, which has angered many politicians on Capitol Hill.
Interestingly, progressives and Tea Partiers have found a common enemy in the TPP. Democrats are unhappy with Obama in this instance because the president excluded his own party from draft negotiations on the TPP. President Obama and Sen. Max Baucus have been pushing the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, a fast-track bill that would present unamendable trade deals to Congress, which would only allow an up-or-down vote devoid of any Congressional debate.
Whether or not Congressional Democrats should kill the TPP is a no-brainer. And considering that liberals and conservatives are kind of on the same side regarding the TPP, for very different reasons of course, failing to do such would come as a disheartening shock.
2. Don’t Let Issues Die
The left would do well to continue holding the conservatives accountable for their controversies, mistakes, and crimes. The Chris Christie Bridgegate Scandal is still fresh on America’s mind, so that should prove to be easily achieved, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s antics have pretty much been forever engrained into the consciousness of nearly every liberal. Scott has drawn much attention to himself for his anti-working class, pro-corporate legislations. Scott has been sued multiple times by the American Civil Liberties Union, most times losing because of the unconstitutionality of his laws.
The left, however, needs to keep the country mindful of all the improprieties committed by the GOP with their flurry of scandals intended to smear the president in the name of GOP politics. The IRS scandal, the Benghazi scandal, and especially the government shutdown were all anti-Obama tactics that wasted media airtime, taxpayer money, and time in D.C. that could have been spent on important issues. One year following Mitt Romney’s loss to Obama, the GOP’s antics are a clear-cut case of sore-losing.
3. Get Tough on Wall Street
The Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) and Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) recently indicated that 93 percent of Americans think Wall Street regulation is important. Only 11 percent of Americans now have a favorable view of Wall Street. There are plenty of good reasons that the survey statistics bear these results. Ever since Congress and the White House started deregulating Wall Street in the 80s, the financial state of middle-class America has plummeted while income inequality has sharply increased.
Wall Street deregulation allowed the banks to operate with an impunity that caused a severe financial recession in 2008 which killed nearly 8 million jobs. Wall Street banks gave worthless loans to lienholders who could barely pay them, which turned the national economy upside-down as banks were putting out more money than they or the people had. There is hope in Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as she has asserted herself as a crusader of financial reform, having developed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and drafted many financial reform laws.
4. Protect the Environment
Opposition against the Keystone XL pipeline started strong but has grown exponentially. But some polls didn’t reflect that opinion. Several polls actually indicated majority support for the Keystone XL pipeline. The American Petroleum Institute released a poll that portrayed the majority of Americans being in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline. Relying on skewed wording, the API asked questions in the survey that only argued in favor of the pipeline.
If Obama approves the pipeline, then federal environmental groups need to implement strict operation-guidelines and regulations. Several energy companies exercise only the bare minimum of oil spill detection. Last year, ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline burst in Mayflower, Arkansas and spilled 210,000 gallons of oil. An investigation by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration found that Exxon had knowledge of weak pipeline seams that were susceptible to rupture, yet failed to recondition the pipe.
5. Active Public Engagement
Public anger isn’t going to propel change on its own. The public needs to getting actively engaged; read news sources of all types, get active in the community and on the web in debates and discussions, and gather as much information as possible on the issues to make informed decisions. And last, but certainly not least, exercise the most fundamental American right and vote.
Joshua de Leon is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.