Forget Free Trade

After Bernie Sanders pulled off an upset win in the Michigan Democratic primary, going from a 23 point deficit to a two-point win in 48 hours, analysts began paying attention to the devastating effects of “free trade” agreements like NAFTA, TPP and the WTO in the industrial Midwest. The pundit class may have accepted globalization as inevitable, but the people living in affected areas can’t not remember.

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  • These so-called «free trade» agreements are less and less about «free trade» – i e, reduction of tariffs and other trade barriers – and more and more about establishing rules (so-called Investor-State Disputes Settlements (ISDS)), which allow corporations to sue governments (but not the other way ’round !) before secret tribunals composed of corporate lawyers, from whose judgement there is no appeal. Courts in the country being sued have no say in the manner. But of course, these negotiations – for TTIP and TPP and other alphabet-soup concoctions by which they are known – continued to be referred to in the corporate press here in Europe and North America as handling on «free trade»….


  • alex_the_tired
    March 11, 2016 6:06 AM

    Well, it all comes down to Tuesday. (Although there will be a primary on Saturday for the Northern Marianas, too.) I don’t “count” the Northern Marianas because it’s so far removed from the country geographically and politically that whoever wins it, psychologically, won’t gain a lot of ground. The delegates will still count, but no one ever “won” thanks to the turnaround out of the Marianas.

    So Florida (246), Illinois (182), North Carolina (121), Ohio (159) and Missouri (84). 792 delegates in all. More delegates are at stake than Hillary Clinton has pledged to her (772). I’ll just put down the math so we can all agonize together.

    508 delegates. If Sanders were to win 508 delegates altogether (leaving Clinton with 284), the total delegate counts would be even again. He’d have to get an average of just under 70% in every state. Realistically, that simply won’t happen.

    396 delegates. If Sanders wins 396 delegates, the gap between Clinton and him will not increase. He’ll still be down 223 delegates (plus/minus the Marianas). And, barring a federal indictment of Clinton or a truly staggering scandal, Sanders will trail all the way to the convention.

    So that’s Sanders’ bar: He has to win at least 396 delegates. Realistically, to continue the momentum, he’d need to take down the delegate gap of 223 by at least 20%, so he really needs about 440 delegates.

    Is THAT possible? Actually, I think it is. It would be hard. He’d have to win every state by a single-digit majority (say, about 54%). But everyone trudged into Michigan expecting it to be the killing blow for the Sanders campaign. And now, the election cycle is out of the Southern Rust Belt. Tuesday will resolve it: either Clinton is a regional candidate whose lead will slowly evaporate or Sanders will be the second-placer while Hillary gears up for a run against Donald Trump.

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