by Tom Broderick
Chicago DSA printed post cards urging our elected federal representatives to vote against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). We asked folk to sign them on the spot so that we could hold them for a later delivery to these representatives. There were cases where the signer was from out of state. Those we just stamped and mailed.
Over the summer, we gathered these signatures at various farmers’ markets and events like The People’s Summit at McCormick Place. A vast majority of the cards were signed by folk from the Chicago area. As the gathering process tapered off, several comrades made appointments to drop the cards at the various legislative offices in the area. With each delivery of cards, we included a sheet of quotes stating opposition to the TPP from groups as varied as the CATO Institute and Physicians Without Borders. I’d like to thank those who agreed to deliver the cards:
• Peg Strobel and Bill Barclay delivered cards to the office of Senator Richard J. Durbin, where they were accepted without comment.
• Hilda Schlatter and Paul Sakol delivered the cards to the office of Senator Mark Kirk, where they were accepted with scant response.
• Jacqueline P. Kirley and Charles Nissim-Sabat agreed to deliver the cards to the office of Rep. Bobby Rush (1st CD), where they were accepted, again without comment.
• I was unable to find any DSA member in Rep. Robin Kelly’s district (2nd CD) to make the delivery, so we bundled them together with the list of oppositional quotes and mailed them to her office.
• Cards for Rep. William Lipinski (3rd CD) were mailed to his office as well. Rep. Lipinski is a leader in the fight against the TPP.
• Sheilah Garland and Alec Hudson agreed to deliver cards to the office of Rep. Luis Gutierrez (4th CD). This office also refused to have a conversation, saying they don’t meet with constituents on issues like the TPP.
• Lisa Wallis and Bill Bianchi agreed to deliver the cards to the office of Rep. Mike Quigley (5th CD). Rep. Quigley is the only Democrat from Illinois in the U.S. House who has consistently stated support for the TPP. Upon receipt of the cards, Mary Ann Levar stated that the Congressman was “listening carefully to what his constituents were saying on this issue.”
• Gary Harper and Alex Franklin met with a staff member of Rep. Peter Roskam (6th CD) at his office. The cards and oppositional quote sheet were accepted without comment.
• I met with Ira Cohen from Rep. Danny K. Davis’ (7th CD) office. Cohen said the Congressman always appreciates it when constituents do the kind of community outreach that our post card project entailed. He said that Rep. Davis is under pressure to vote in favor of the TPP, but Cohen had no indication that he was going to succumb.
• The post cards for Rep. Tammy Duckworth (8th CD) were mailed to her office along with the oppositional quote sheet.
• Susan E. Hirsch and Ian Hartman met with an aide to Rep. Jan Schakowsky (9th CD), who is another leader from Illinois in the fight against the TPP. The aide was pleased to hear that our post card effort was city-wide and affirmed Rep. Schakowsky’s commitment to vote against the TPP.
• The post cards for Rep. Bob Dold (10th CD) were mailed to his office along with the oppositional quote sheet.
• Nancy Tuggle, Roger McReynolds and Patricia McReynolds delivered the material to the office of Rep. Bill Foster (11th CD). They were told that the cards would be forwarded to the DC office.
• Vince Hardt along with Alison Squires and Lyndon Squires met with an aide to Rep. Randy Hultgren (14th CD). The aide stated that Rep. Hultgren has indicated his opposition to the TPP in various public appearances. In an article in the Northwest Herald, Rep. Hultgren is quoted saying “he doesn’t foresee the issue being addressed or voted on, or being passed, during the lame duck session.” I believe this makes Rep. Hultgren the second Illinois Republican in Congress to oppose the TPP. He joins Rep. Mike Bost (12th CD)
• Post cards for Rep. Adam Kinzinger (16th CD) were mailed to his office, with the oppositional quote sheet.
Chicago DSA was a member of a coalition of groups that organized Chicago demonstrations as part of the National Day of Action Against the TPP. This was aimed specifically at Rep. Quigley, and with the election of The Donald, modified to encourage the growth of a spine.
It appears that our work, along with the work of many others and the election of The Donald, has killed the passing of the TPP during the lame duck session. This according to folk connected to the White House, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Majority Leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell. However, the TPP is not finished. We need to keep our focus on this undemocratic deal and the others that are in the works and stop them cold: democratic trade deals, not secret trade deals.