Tag: treaty

Thoughts on Trump’s Paris Accord exit from an isolationist redneck in a coal town in Illinois

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post was originally published at DailyKos, and this blog post has been republished to The Progressive Midwestern by its original author.


Given the fact that I am a staunch isolationist when it comes to foreign policy, as well as the fact that I live in Westville, Illinois, which, while there hasn’t been large-scale coal mining around here in many years, was originally built up around coal mining, you may be surprised to find that I’m actually opposed to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement.

Even though I firmly believe that Trump just won re-election in 2020 (unless the planet becomes uninhabitable before November 2020, that is) with his decision, there are a large number of reasons why I fundamentally disagree with Trump on his decision to pull the U.S. out of the primary instrument of international law to combat global warming. There are four reasons why I believe that Trump will politically benefit from his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement:

  • Many Americans either believe that global warming isn’t occurring and/or believe that global warming is not caused by human activity.
  • Many Americans have a negative view of the concept of international law and don’t like the idea of the U.S. being told by other countries what to do.
  • Many Americans believe that Trump is trying to save the U.S. coal industry.
  • Many Americans believe that Trump is trying to save automobile racing in the United States.

I’ll counter each of those arguments in this article.

Global warming is legitimately occurring, and human activity is causing global warming

The above headline contains two indisputable facts. I don’t need to explain further.

No country can address climate change by itself

Normally, I’m staunchly opposed to multilateral international agreements of any kind, and of course I, like many Americans, revere popular sovereignty, our country’s independence, and the U.S. Constitution’s status as the Supreme Law of the Land within the jurisdiction of the United States. However, climate change is an issue that affects all of Earth, not just the U.S. or any other single country. A well-implemented agreement between as many countries as possible is necessary to reduce the rate of, if not halt or reverse, global warming. The Paris agreement is similar to the U.S. Constitution in a way: it’s a legal framework. The U.S. Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land that establishes the U.S. federal government’s form of government, but is not every single federal law applicable to the United States. The Paris agreement is a framework for a global strategy to combat global warming, but it’s up to sovereign and non-sovereign governments around the world to, if they have the power(s) to do so, implement policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within their jurisdiction in order to meet the goals of the Paris agreement.

Coal isn’t coming back

There hasn’t been a large amount of coal mining activity in the area around my hometown for many, many years. In fact, a coal-fired power plant northwest of my hometown closed permanently several years ago. There are other, cleaner ways of generating electricity than via coal. The decline of coal in the U.S. is due to, among other factors, technological advances leaving fewer and fewer viable and necessary uses for coal, not due to international law or environmental regulations. Instead of pulling out of the Paris agreement, the federal government should create an economic development bank to provide loans to new businesses operating in economically-depressed areas, such as rural America and former mining and manufacturing areas. Coal isn’t coming back, and Trump is trying to destroy the planet to save a dying industry, which simply won’t work for anybody.

It’s not a threat to automobile racing

NASCAR’s fan base might be 80-90% Republican, but I’m a big fan of NASCAR despite being very progressive politically. I’m not as big of a fan of other forms of automobile racing, although I do watch at least one IndyCar race and at least one Formula One race per year on television. The Paris climate agreement wouldn’t hurt automobile racing. If automobile racing were threatened by the Paris accord, Monaco, a tiny European country which hosts the most important Formula One race on that form of auto racing’s calendar each year, wouldn’t have signed the Paris agreement (they did).

If there’s anyone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to trade, it’s President Obama

After over six years of, outside of a few issues like Social Security and domestic spying where he’s sided with the far-right Republicans, largely relying on progressives as a base of support, President Barack Obama has launched a full-on War on Progressives by openly antagonizing opponents of proposed free-trade agreements, including the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that would destroy most of what little sovereignty America still has.

This is what President Obama said at an Organizing for Action (OFA) summit in our nation’s capital:

When people say this trade deal is bad for working families, they don’t know what they’re talking about…I take that personally. My entire presidency has been about helping working families.

If there’s anyone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to international trade, it’s President Obama and his corporate allies in both major parties in this country. In fact, the fact that the TPP and other free trade deals and policies

For many decades, tariffs and other trade protections made America great by building a strong economy and manufacturing sector that provided middle-class jobs and American-made goods that Americans could actually purchase. Now, because of NAFTA, CAFTA, Most Favored Nation status for China, and other agreements and laws that have loosened American trade policies, most goods sold in the United States are made in foreign countries

Over the last three and a half decades, we’ve seen the effects of current free-trade agreements and other free trade policies between the U.S. and foreign countries, and they’re almost entirely negative. For several very brief periods in the early 1980’s, the U.S. actually had a very small trade surplus. Since then, because of free-trade policies that have been pushed by every president from Ronald Reagan onward and a bipartisan corporate coalition in Congress, wages in this country have been driven downward, the manufacturing sector of our economy has been annihilated, our trade deficit with foreign nations has exploded, the vast majority of goods sold in this country are foreign-made, and the American economy has become an economy full of low-wage jobs. Here’s a graph showing how our nation’s trade deficit has exploded since 1980:

U.S. Balance of Trade 1980-2015 (Graph Courtesy of Trade Economics)

For someone who professes to be a constitutional scholar, President Obama clearly doesn’t understand that the TPP itself and the fast-track authority for it are both blatantly unconstitutional.

The TPP itself is in blatant violation of Article III, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes the structure of our nation’s court system. Article III, Section 1 reads as follows:

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

(emphasis mine)

While I’m not an attorney, I interpret Article III, Section 1 as allowing for the creation of a single Supreme Court of the United States and any number of federal courts that are below the single Supreme Court. Since the TPP would create the Investor-State Dispute System (ISDS), a de facto court system that is effectively above the U.S. Supreme Court, this means that the TPP is blatantly unconstitutional.

The fast-track authority for free trade agreements blatantly violates a different part of the Constitution, specifically, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2, which reads as follows:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

(emphasis mine)

Again, I’m not an attorney, but I interpret Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 as requiring approval by two-thirds of U.S. Senators who are present for such a vote, for ratification of any treaty negotiated and signed by the President on behalf of the United States. However, since fast-track authority, among other things, allows for free trade agreements, which I consider to be a type of treaty, to be ratified by a simple majority of members of both houses of Congress who are present for votes on such agreements, fast-track is blatantly unconstitutional.

I know I’m going to say something controversial, but I’m willing to say it: President Obama and his corporate allies in both parties in Congress have a deep-seeded hatred of the concept of American economic sovereignty, and they are pushing to enact a corporate globalization agenda in order to drive down wages, pollute our environment, and destroy the American economy without any regard for the U.S. Constitution or the American people. While some international trade is necessary due to consumer demand, globalization and weak trade protections are destroying America and our economy, and we certainly don’t need more of the same.

For President Obama to effectively claim that the overwhelming majority of those who twice elected him President of the United States are stupid is absolutely disgusting and traitorous.