By Matthew Rothschild on July 28, 2005
Fifteen Democrats Cave on CAFTA
By Matthew Rothschild

July 28, 2005

The Democrats just can’t hold the line.

Nowhere was this clearer than on the CAFTA vote that passed the House in the wee hours of the night by a mere two-vote margin, 217 to 215.

Democrats gave Bush this victory, and workers and the environment this defeat, here and in Central America.

You see, 15 Democrat sided with Bush and multinational corporations by voting for CAFTA (see list below). If only two of those Democrats had voted with their party, CAFTA would be dead.

But now, already having passed the Senate with 10 Democratic votes, it will wreak its havoc for years to come, devastating the livelihoods of millions of people in Central America, further hollowing out the job market in the United States, and placing environmental safeguards at the mercy of corporations.

CAFTA “has only one enforceable labor rights requirement: that countries apply their own labor laws—even if they are grossly inadequate,” Human Rights Watch noted. “If governments change their laws to eliminate rights, that’s OK, too, just so long as the new laws are enforced.”

Human Rights Watch added that “women and other groups that have historically faced abuse in the workplace” will find “no protection from discrimination” in CAFTA.

On the environment, “CAFTA provides companies with powerful tools to pressure governments to overturn or waive environmental and other public interest laws,” argued NRDC and Friends of the Earth. “CAFTA will give foreign corporations greater rights than local citizens and the opportunity to completely bypass domestic courts.”

Yes, some Republicans also bolted from their party and came out against CAFTA, which has even fewer protections than NAFTA. One Republican, Walter Jones of North Carolina, said “CAFTA is NAFTA’s ugly cousin.”

But that made it all the more important for the Democrats, who are in the minority, to hold their ground.

By failing to do so, they showed why they may remain the minority party.

--Matthew Rothschild

The Fifteen Democrats for CAFTA

Melissa Bean, IL

Jim Cooper, TN

Henry Cuellar, TX

Norm Dicks, WA

Ruben Hinojosa, TX

William Jefferson, LA

Jim Matheson, UT

Greg Meeks, NY

Dennis Moore, KS

Jim Moran, VA

Solomon Ortiz, TX

Ike Skelton, MO

Vic Snyder, AR

John Tanner, TN

Ed Towns, NY

“These folks will have a lot to answer for,” says Nathan Britton, spokesperson for Rep. Barbara Lee of California. Rep. Lee is one of the co-chairs of the Progressive Caucus.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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