Back in October, at the CNN debate, Bernie Sanders famously answered Anderson Cooper’s question by turning to Hillary Clinton, and saying, “the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damned emails!”

Just a refresher, here is the video of that epic exchange which was seen as a major concession to Hillary Clinton at the time:

Since then, there has been very little talk of the emails on the Democratic side. But now, The Nation says he should forget about the server issue, but to look at the emails, themselves.

Sanders should ask Clinton about her relentless advocacy of free-trade treaties, and in particular about one 2011 email (to which David Sirota and Sarah Berger called attention in a piece last week) where she wrote, in pushing for the now ratified free-trade agreement with Colombia: “at the rate we were going, Columbian [sic] workers were going to end up w the same or better rights than workers in Wisconsin and Indiana and, maybe even, Michigan.”. . .

According to Colombia’s respected Escuela Nacional Sindical, as of April 2015, 105 union activists had been executed in the four years since Clinton’s free-trade treaty went into effect. That’s just trade unionists. More broadly, Colombia continues to be one of the most dangerous places in the world for activists of all stripes.
Threats of death and physical violence against workers—teachers, peasants, mine and oil laborers, and so on—are uncountable. They are an everyday fact of life for any Colombian who hopes to have some say over terms of labor.
Beyond physical repression and threats of physical repression, the “rights” of labor in Colombia are practically nonexistent for vast numbers of workers. Routine are “illegal forms of hiring, the use of collective pacts by companies to thwart union organizing, and the problem of impunity for anti-union activity.”. . .

Considering that Clinton said in that email that Colombian “workers were going to end up w the same or better rights than workers in Wisconsin and Indiana and, maybe even, Michigan,” here’s the question Sanders should ask her: Did she mean that she hoped to raise Colombia up to US standards, or lower the United States’ to Colombia’s?

It’s all about free trade. Candidates in both parties say we have done “bad deals.” But Hillary is stuck with them as she was Secretary of State, pushing the Pacific deal. And, of course, to placate minorities, she emphasizes that she is a full supporter of President Obama.

The question is, how unhappy is America with our trade deals, and can Bernie get anywhere with the issue? Perhaps this is a topic that may come up during the CNN Democratic Debate happening tonight in Flint, Michigan.


  1. I think that could work, for it is dealing with a policy position she held, vs the email scandal in general.

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