Congressman John Delaney of the 6th Congressional District addressed the Woman’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County on Tuesday, September 20th, and made quite a strong case for the importance of the 2016 election and how much there is to lose if we, the voters, don’t become engaged.
In his remarks the Congressman explained the consequences of a large segment of the electorate losing faith in government and interest in the election process resulting in becoming more and more disengaged. According to the Congressman, progress is made when a large segment of society mobilizes for a common cause. Think the civil rights movement. When “the people” become less engaged in government, it widens the door for the special interests to increase their influence in government.
Congressman Delaney doesn’t lay all blame on Republicans and their message of fear but also lays some responsibility on Democrats for failing to effectively deliver their own message regarding what works in a globally connected world. Today’s world as compared to our world just some fifty years ago, according to the Congressman, is drastically different due to globalization and we need to accept that fact and build on it. Fifty years ago, he pointed out, 25 percent of the world was connected economically and 75 percent relied on localized economies. Consistent with those percentages, world poverty affected 75 percent of the world. Today the percentages are reversed with 75 percent connected and only 25 percent in poverty.
The question facing voters is whether they want to allow Trump to turn back the clock and bring us back to a world of inequality and intolerance or whether we want to progress forward in this globally connected world but which will require greater tolerance, equality and fairness and an immigration policy that is consistent with our values as a nation. Moreover, we must decide in this election whether we recognize the importance of investing in education, in infrastructure and in an environment that is severely strained due to globalization.
If we can’t turn back time, we must progress forward and this upcoming presidential election is as simple as understanding the difference between going forward and going backwards.
The ramifications of this election are far reaching and go well beyond the next four years. In 2012, when the Congressman won his first term, there were 325,000 voters in the District 6 election. In the 2014 election, his second term, the number of voters in District 6 dropped to a staggeringly low 180,000. Voter turnout is critical to preventing this country from going back in time and reversing the progress that has been made by President Obama who Congressman Delaney praised for accomplishing as much as he has despite the historic obstructionism he faced from Congress.
2018 will see Maryland’s next gubernatorial election and 2020 will see the next census and redistricting. If it is important for Marylanders to keep such effective and established Congressmen as John Sarbanes, John Delaney, Steny Hoyer and Dutch Ruppersberger in their Congressional seats, then it is imperative that Marylanders take elections seriously and be engaged in the election process.
Currently, Democrats hold a three to one lead over Republicans in Montgomery County. However, according to Congressman Delaney, the fastest growing party is that of Independents. That three to one ratio can be drastically impacted if Independents slide to the Republican side rather than the Democrat side. Yes, voter turnout is critical to any election since, when voters turn out, Democrats win and when voter turnout is low, Republicans win. Getting voters to turn out, however, will only be accomplished if the message resonates with the voters and for a message to resonate trust in government must be restored.
That will not be an easy challenge to overcome in the next month or so, but it is critical for voters to understand that the challenges ahead won’t be met with short term sound bites or a return to a world that no longer exists. Rather, the challenges we face in a global community will require investment in new industries, new technology and the education of workers to compete in those new industries and investment in the infrastructure to support those new industries and the jobs they create.
At the conclusion of the Congressman’s remarks he did take several questions and in his responses he pointed out that, contrary to rumors, he has no plans to run for governor in 2018. He also explained that the reason so many members of the foreign policy establishment are so very fearful of a Trump presidency is because his foreign policy rhetoric is so damaging to international relationships built up over decades and his statements on such issues as NATO, nuclear armament, and the like make him, in the eyes of those experienced in foreign affairs, so clearly unfit to be Commander-in-Chief. He also explained quite articulately how the needs of certain areas within his district are so drastically different than are the needs of other areas within his district and how he must assess those needs taking into consideration the greater good.
However, the area I want to end with is the topic the Congressman ended his talk with. That topic is the Trans Pacific Partnership (TTP). The Congressman is a supporter of this trade agreement and his explanation shed some clarity on the debate. It also shed some additional light on navigating in the global economy. His explanation made a good deal of sense, but only to a point. First, China is not part of the TTP. The TTP is a giant free trade agreement between Canada, the United States and ten countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Basically, his and President Obama’s reasoning reduces the argument to whether we want to be a player with those Pacific nations regarding trade or whether we want to surrender all influence to China in that region.
Further, as with any trade agreement, there are winners and losers. The industries in the United States that will clearly benefit from the TTP are those dealing with technology, agriculture and import/exports. The industries who will clearly not benefit from this agreement are the old line manufacturers. The reality is that, in terms of Maryland specifically, the three industries that benefit from the agreement are the three top industries of Maryland. It is primarily for that reason that the Congressman had no hesitation in supporting the TPP.
Further, regarding reality, the old line manufacturing jobs, no matter how many empty promises there are from Trump in his campaign rhetoric, will never return to this country. In this global economy we can never compete with the 63 cents per hour paid in Bangladesh to sew garments NOR would we want those jobs back since no one here could afford to take them.
There is still a major question that the Congressman did not address. The TPP gives foreign firms the ability to circumvent our courts and the laws we rely on for a clean environment, safe food, and a safe working environment. Instead, foreign corporations could drag the U.S. government before an Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDAS) Tribunal composed of three private arbitrators. There are, of course other issues on both sides of the argument. As a result, the “jury”, so to speak is still out on this one, but the Congressman at least gave a very coherent argument for why he supports the agreement.