PHILADELPHIA — The day after delegates inside the Democratic National Convention formally endorsed Hillary Clinton, activists gathered outside the convention site to express their opposition to a controversial trade deal that could be ratified later this year.
On Wednesday, about 150 people gathered under the trees of FDR Park, a public space just outside the massive security fence surrounding the Wells Fargo Center, to demand an end to U.S. support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a controversial trade deal that critics warn will devastate democracy and the environment and send health care costs through the roof.
“There’s not a single person this doesn’t impact, but in terms of health care it’s going to raise the cost of health care for everyone,” Dr. Margaret Flowers told MintPress News.
“It gives much longer patent protections to pharmaceuticals and medical device companies, and it’s going to prevent us from going to the real solution we need: a national improved medicare for all or a single-payer health care system.”
Flowers, a Maryland-based pediatrician, activist and MintPress contributor who is running for the U.S. Senate under the Green Party, was one of several third-party or independent candidates attending the anti-TPP protest. Alternative candidates, including the Green Party’s presumptive nominee, Jill Stein, are receiving unprecedented levels of attention from the electorate as Americans grow increasingly dissatisfied with the two-party system.
In addition to Stein, Flowers said the Green Party has “great candidates running for city council, for mayor, for Congress — all different levels. We’re confident that we’ll have some wins this year.”
“Whatever happens this year, we are pushing forward to build the alternative party that we need, and the alternative power that we need for progressive change.”
Stephanie Anderson, an independent candidate for U.S. Representative of Florida’s 23rd congressional district, said the TPP could permanently damage American democracy.
“It’s going to reduce America’s sovereign rights,” Anderson told MintPress. “It will allow other countries and people in other countries to sue the American government, which we don’t even have the right to do that.”
Under the TPP, companies could sue governments for lost profits caused by local or federal laws — such as bans on fracking, and those lawsuits would be heard in a special corporate court through a process many argue is geared toward benefiting corporations at the expense of the needs of the people.
Anderson is running against incumbent Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who recently resigned her role as head of the Democratic National Committee under pressure from the revelations contained in 20,000 DNC emails released by WikiLeaks, and Tim Canova, the candidate endorsed by Bernie Sanders to unseat Wasserman Schultz.
An independent candidate from Washington state, Mike Coverdale, stressed to MintPress that it was “hugely important” to oppose TPP because it could impoverish Americans for generations to come.
“It’s an agreement crafted by hundreds of corporate attorneys to create an environment for corporations to flourish forever,” Coverdale, an Army veteran and real estate professional who is running for the House of Representatives in his state’s 6th district, said. “All of the trade agreements we have been through before, none of them have performed to create jobs. They’ve all been negative for us the people, positive for the corporations.”
“To commit to something that will affect our grandchildren’s grandchildren is ludicrous,” he added.
Coverdale said he was inspired to run for office by Sanders, who has repeatedly urged his supporters to vote for progressives in local elections and to even run for local office themselves. He added that he committed to the race after he “found out that our own congressman, [Derek Kilmer], was favoring issues that I was opposed to: fracking, Trans-Pacific Partnership, supporting Wall Street.”
“Any elected official today that won’t say that they oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership has to be voted out of office,” he concluded.