Democrat — MO 2nd District

Foreign Policy and Trade


  • Thanks to Donald Trump and his puppets in Congress, America is slowly but surely relinquishing its role as a global leader. Congress thinks we can lead the world from the sidelines. They’re wrong. A 21st century foreign policy cannot survive with a 19th century worldview.
  • The vacuum at the top that America will leave will not remain a vacuum for long. To prevent a united Europe and an ever increasingly powerful China from dominating world affairs, America must recommit itself to acting as a responsible leader politically, economically, and culturally. That means a recommitment to soft-power and active involvement in international institutions like the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.
  • Congress must always remember that free trade isn’t always fair trade. We shouldn’t shy away from trade deals in our ever-increasing globalized economy. But that doesn’t mean that we should tolerate trade deals written in secret, without public scrutiny, and absent respect for organized labor.

The United States defeated fascism in World War II. It defeated the Soviet Union in the Cold War. We are a global power today because of the leadership role that we commanded and secured. Despite our faults, American leadership is still honored and respected.

But President Trump’s policies are destroying this. His anachronistic “America First” foreign policy will lead America to relinquish its leadership role. We already are seeing the damaging effects of this.

This is outrageous and must be reversed. In the 21st century, powers like China and the European Union will relish the opportunity to take the lead from us in global affairs. We cannot allow the President’s naïve and misguided worldview to dethrone US hegemony.

Trump and the current Congress think we can lead from the sidelines. They’re wrong.

Republican and Democratic administrations for decades have recognized the virtue of “hard” and “soft” power. Hard power represents the use of force (both military and economic) to achieve a goal. Soft power represents the ability to achieve an objective through appeal and example.

What example does isolationism set? What example does alienating our allies set? What example does turning a blind eye to  global realities set? What example does failing to meet our promises and obligations set?

Yet under Trump and the oversight of an impotent and incompetent Congress, we have decided to replace our ability to lead by example with an outdated and absurd isolationist worldview that frustrates and endangers our allies and the international community.

The vacuum this creates at the top will not remain a vacuum for long. If we want another American century, we must stay committed to our positions of leadership – not just militarily but politically and economically – around the globe.

Congress needs to take the lead in strengthening – and not relinquishing! – America’s position as a global leader. This can’t happen under Trump’s absurd isolationist policy from another century. We need an immediate recommitment to our allies AND international organizations like the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization.

Globalization and Trade

This is not our grandparents’ world. Gone are the days when America – and America alone –  wrote all the rules. In the 21st century we need to deal with a strong European Union and capitalism in China and India.

The globalized economy was created by the United States. We cannot shy away from our position as an economic giant nor from the realities of an increasingly interconnected world.

The ascendance of free-trade is one of these realities. But free-trade doesn’t necessarily mean fair-trade. Both parties have tragically failed at times to properly grasp this and that has been to the detriment of the American middle-class. As your representative I will always strive to protect the American worker from the often devastating effects of a globalized economy.

Congress has an awful habit of just seeing dollar signs when it comes to “free-trade” deals – again, often forgetting that FREE trade isn’t always FAIR trade. Trade deals are not wrong on their surface. Unfortunately, however, evil sometimes lurks beneath the surface. That was certainly the case with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

With the U.S. at its core, the TPP would have included over 790 million people and would have affected 40% of the world’s economy. In theory, it was a great idea: regional developing economic rivals to China teaming up with the United States in a free-trade economic pact that would have strengthened each nation’s economy at the expense of China’s expanding economic power. America should welcome any opportunity to beat back ever-expanding Chinese influence. The devil, however, was in the details.

First, the partnership would have created a bizarre and mysterious “quasi-legal” tribunal of corporate lawyers to rule over trade disputes. This commission would have powers over the legal systems of the pact’s members. Thus, under TPP, American courts could be prevented from enforcing local, state, and federal laws protecting consumers, workers, or the environment.

Second, and more importantly, there were not enough contingencies within the TPP addressing displaced American workers and the communities that support them. If eliminating protectionist policies creates severe hardships on American employment, there must be measures in place to remedy the effects on workers, their families, and their communities. This was a problem with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Americans lost their jobs, communities were devastated, and Congress and the states were too slow to react.

American workers deserve better. As your representative I will insist that all trade agreements – small and large – fully appreciate the effects on American employment and include immediate and effective provisions to deal with displaced American workers and their affected communities.

For America, free-trade can be fair-trade. But when written in secret – usually without the input of the public and organized labor – we should always be suspicious and on-guard. We need more voices in Washington to demand that the public – and organized labor –  always have a say in the forging of these agreements.

End Corruption. Demand reform.
Paid for by John Messmer for Congress.