Make no mistake, the new NAFTA deal (now rebranded USMCA) is a rare policy win for the Trump Regime. I may walk it back when more details are known, but it really does seem to be a positive accomplishment, incorporating provisions to at least ameliorate some of the worst things about the NAFTA.
The question now is: what will the Democrats do in response? Will they dig in with reflexive opposition, and end up hurting themselves? If they do, they will ironically be much like Trump with his reflexive opposition to anything and everything that Obama did, just because Obama did it. They will only do damage to their party’s prospects—and they will deserve the damage.
It’s a good thing when governments take the position of the working class, instead of just the position of the ruling elite, into consideration when making agreements. If you can’t admit that, you’re obviously a political phony who cares more about partisanship than anything else, and any criticisms you make about the GOP putting party over country will ring hollow.
Yes, it’s inconvenient to admit one’s opponents just got something right, particularly when the opponents have the level of overall general vileness that the Trumpists do. However, as Bertrand Russell once observed:
Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
And once one gets over the initial flash of inconvenience, it becomes evident that this is actually a huge opportunity for embattled Red State Democrats. If they play this thing right, by praising the new trade deal as a much-needed win for the working class, they have just created some much-needed campaign ammunition that they are not being reflexively anti-Trump when they do things like block his odious and unqualified Supreme Court nominations.
It’s rather harder for those further left to openly praise the new deal, of course. There’s a solution there, too: keep your mouth shut about it. Support it quietly, not loudly. Be loud in your criticism of Trump’s many evils and quiet in your praise of the few good things in his generally awful agenda. There’s ways to propagandize without lying, and those ways tend to be the better ways (see the Russell quote above).
Or try total honesty for a change, and openly say that:
- NAFTA was weak in the labor and environmental department,
- The proposed changes will be an improvement,
- The centrists in your party enabled the likes of Trump by passing anti-worker deals such as NAFTA in the first place, and
- Your politics can deliver positive accomplishments like renegotiating bad trade deals without all the fascistic bigotry and authoritarianism of Trump.
If you’re really any sort of leftist (and not just a professed one), none of the above should be all that hard to do.