Thursday, June 25, 2015

An Open Letter to President Barak Obama on the TPP

Dear Mr. President,

I was there the day you won the election in 2008. My classmates and I gathered around the television in our dormitory common room to watch the votes come in. And while I can't speak for everyone, I sat with baited breath as I hoped and prayed for a victory that would result in a better America.

When your victory was announced, my college campus erupted. Students poured out of their dormitories and onto the grounds cheering, waving flags, and yelling your name over and over again. The air vibrated with the excitement. I stood on my dormitory steps and soaked it all in. The hundreds who walked across campus that night were certain things were finally going to change.

I was there when the age restriction on my parents insurance rose. I had graduated college. I didn't know where I was going to get a job or if I wanted to peruse gradschool. I didn't know if I'd continue living with my parents or try to make it on my own. And somewhere in there I would probably need my own car, and I'd have to find a way to pay for it. I had so many questions with little answers and among those was how I was going to get health coverage. And then, suddenly, blessedly, my parents insurance was required to carry me until I was 26. That was a good day. A wonderful day. And I can't tell you how often I've thanked you for that. In fact, I will say it again now. Thank you so very much.

I was there when insurance companies could no longer turn away pre-existing conditions.

I was there when you pulled troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq.

I was there when the affordable care act passed.

All of these things I have applauded you on. And I thank you for seeing the needs of the American people in these situations.

Over the years, when my friends criticized you for not following through on some of your campaign promises, I defended you. I know it can not be an easy job as President. You don't hold all the power, and trying to get Republicans and Democrats and lobbyists to work together and agree with one another is near impossible. You can't do it all. And it has to be crazy stressful. I do not envy your position.

I have believed ever since 2008 that you have done the best you can to do whatever good you can for this country, and I have been grateful for your service.

But this business with the TPP throws everything into doubt.

I've heard some really distressing things:

  • Lobbyists from large corporations and big banks have been involved in the creation of the trade agreement, but not the American people.
  • Corporations can sue for things that hurt their profits, such as environment and labor laws. If successful, payment to corporations would come in the form of tax payer dollars.
  • Our already inadequate copyright system becomes more restrictive. The medical industry can hold more patents, delaying the creation of cheaper alternatives and hurting those who need healthcare.

I fail to see how any of this helps the American people and only serves to hurt them and benefit multi-million dollar corporations. The reported increase in exports and imports could be a good thing for everyone, but not at the cost of the American people.

I'm honestly baffled by your stance. You've said you truly believe in this trade agreement and the benefits it will have for America. You've said this bill is nothing like NAFTA. I'd like to believe you as I find it unthinkable you'd back something that seems so incredibly harmful. But critics report the TPP is NAFTA on steroids.

So, who am I to believe? The responsible thing to do would be to dive into research and make my own informed decision. But I can't do that because the bill is classified, and the only information the American citizens have was brought to us through WikiLeaks.

And that in and of itself poses a severe problem.

The TPP is a trade bill that was created and has been voted on without the knowledge of the American people as to its contents. Is it not true that members of Congress are supposed to represent the American people? How can they even begin to represent us on a bill that we haven't been given access to? How can they have the citizens of the United States at heart when we, the citizens, have been given no voice in this matter?

Mr. President, I ask you, is this how democracy is supposed to work?

It's been said many in congress haven't read the TPP themselves. They are not allowed to, and they must vote on the bill blindly.

Mr. President, how does this hold up the rights of our Constitution?

Have you read the trade agreement yourself? I've heard the bill is around 1,000 pages. And, I mean, who has time to read all of that? Least of all the Presidents of the United States who I imagine has the most insane schedule ever? Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you have read it in its entirety. In any case, there's a clear disconnect between what you believe this agreement to be and how people have responded to the parts of the agreement that have become available.

Some have suggested that you're being bribed by corporations. Some say you have given up after years of struggling against Republicans, and you have become susceptible to their demands. Some say you may have been lied to by your advisers.

I don't know the full story, Mr. President. None of the American people do. We have been denied any involvement in this process.

But I do know one thing. When I look back on the night my college campus exploded in triumph at your election, I don't want to remember a president who sold out the American people.

Please, don't be that president.

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