DENVER — A star-studded concert tour aims to bring renewed attention to the flaws of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the controversial trade deal that’s facing an increasingly hostile climate in Washington.
Launching July 23 in Denver, the Rock Against the TPP tour will be headlined by Tom Morello, the guitarist best known for co-founding Rage Against the Machine, one of the most popular and influential politically-oriented rock bands of the 1990s. He’s also collaborated with Bruce Springsteen and performs folk music as The Nightwatchman.
“Working people everywhere have had enough,” Morello said in a June 15 press release for the tour. “The TPP is nothing short of a corporate takeover of our democracy. That’s why people are rising up to stop it. Corporate lobbyists want to sneak the TPP through Congress quietly; that means it’s time for us to get loud.”
The TPP is a sprawling international trade deal forged in secret by 12 countries, including the United States, that could affect everything from Internet freedom to climate change and the cost of medicine. Its opponents are just as diverse as the industries it will impact, with international protests organized by trade unions, digital civil liberties groups, the Sierra Club and more.
“Whatever you’re passionate about, whether it’s human rights, internet freedom, climate change, or food safety, the TPP is a bad deal for humanity, and a threat to the future of democracy,” actress Evangeline Lilly, another member of the Rock Against The TPP tour, said.
Although President Barack Obama and the leaders of the other 11 nations signed the TPP in New Zealand in February, the deal still needs to be introduced to Congress, where its prospects for approval look increasingly uncertain. Both major parties’ presumptive nominees for president, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have expressed reservations about the deal, meaning it might not fare any better under the next administration.
“Now there are serious concerns that the deal will not get through before the Obama administration leaves office and will be either held up, re-opened or become redundant under the next president,” wrote J. Berkshire Miller, director of the Council on International Policy, in a June 15 opinion piece for Al-Jazeera.
“The Obama administration is facing pressure from a number of groups opposed to the deal and — like the case in most free trade agreements — will have to make a number of side deals with internal stakeholders to garner sufficient support to get the legislation through Congress.”
The Rock Against the TPP tour also features classic punk band Anti-Flag, rapper Son of Nun, and the bilingual saxophone-based punk act Downtown Boys. Four additional tour dates are expected to be announced after Denver.
Evan Greer, the tour’s lead organizer and campaign director for Fight for the Future, described the TPP as an attack on essential freedoms. “The TPP is not a trade deal, it’s a corporate coup — an attack on the future of democracy and free speech.”
Greer expressed hope that the tour will show politicians they can’t pass deals like the TPP without facing serious popular opposition.
“[P]eople from across the political spectrum overwhelmingly oppose it, and we’re going to fight not only to stop the TPP, but to make sure that decisions that affect all of us are never made behind closed doors in the future.”