Letter to the Trade Coalition

Back in 2013, which seems like another world now, we stood together and fought for a fair economic future. We stood together and fought the corporations, and for a time, it looked like we won. We redefined the notion of trade and required that it be fair, not free. We said corporations can make a profit but not at the expense of clean air, water and our right to government by the people NOT the corporations. When the TPP was dead, we thought we had won.

Partial list of TPP Coalition Partners

In less than six months our mediocre economic future now looks dire; those of us who thought we were doing just fine are now just doing and we can’t tell how much longer that will last. Not only is our health constantly at risk because of COVID-19, our economic prospects are gone with the wind and now we need to consider “big” ideas that will pull us all the way back from the brink.

Our big idea is actually an old idea that is as American as mom, dad, apple pie and all the things we think we love. The idea is the stuff that we’ll talk about for a couple of generations as we collectively return to the stories of our grandparents for many and great-grandparents for others. We are remembering community and what it meant to be neighborly and work together. We’ve gone back past the 50s when we bought into the idea of the nuclear family we’re going all the way back to the great depression. What we need is a new New Deal, but this time we need to make sure we include everybody regardless of race, creed, gender, immigration status or political persuasion.

Our roadmap back to our stable economic future is through our interdependence on each other. Let’s look at what we need (childcare, health care, fresh food, digital support – yes, I threw that one in). Now let’s find our neighbors who also need the same thing and in our neighborhood let’s find someone who knows a guy or gal who does that. L’et’s agree on how we will work together and what everyone needs to give/get and then let’s cooperate and work together to achieve our shared purpose. It’s time to relearn our history and remember why there are rural electric cooperatives and figure out how to bring them back to their original democratic roots. Let’s remember when if you worked hard, you really could make a better life for yourself and your family not simply work yourself into an early grave. Let’s remember why we created labor unions. While we’re at it, let’s remember when banks (yes they have always been society’s villains) refused to loan money to working people so they could have a chance at home ownership; labor union members got together and pooled their money and formed credit unions.

If our goal is power, then we must have power over the economy in our own communities. We need to have the power to make decisions without asking anybody (not city council, state government or gasp the feds). If we are truly going to be free, powerful and independent, then our community decides how we work together to create household stability. And when we have empowered and stabilities our communities, we need to take a look at jobs and work. If we put in our labor, where’s the reward? If the reward isn’t there just more labor, maybe we’re in business with the wrong people. If there is no cooperation in terms of our compensation, then we need to change the dynamic.

While we’re all cooperating, we’re also talking with each other. We keep defining and redefining our goals. Now we’re looking at everything we do as either contributing to household stability or moving things in the old direction of dependence and instability. Are outside forces trying to move us back into that instability? If so, have we built enough power to remove the threat to our new found power and stability by putting someone sympathetic and empathetic to our point of view in that office. Is that new candidate one of us? Are we the change that the collective “we” have been looking for?

So my question to you, my partners is, “Are we going to stand together, put our collective brain power and imagination to work and figure this out? We, the coalition of Faith leaders, ranchers, doctors, scientists, students, progressives, conservatives, seniors, students, attorneys and returning citizens. Together we stood 5 million strong and we beat back the international corporations.

Published by Andrea Miller

Andrea Miller is an elections and GOTV strategist working to change dominant institutions. She is a Federal and Virginia state lobbyist working on climate, voting rights, mass incarceration, Medicare for All. She chairs the Democracy and Governance Working Group of the Virginia Green New Deal. She is founding Tri-Chair of the Virginia Poor People's Campaign.

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