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The Campaign Platform of Trevor Thomas: Moderate Reforms at home, Imperialism abroad

June 11, 2012

Two weeks ago, it was announced that the two Democratic candidates for the Third Congressional District, Steve Pestka and Trevor Thomas, would both focus on how they differ on issues from the incumbent Justin Amash.

Last week, MLive ran a brief story about a 20-page document that lays out Trevor Thomas’ position on key campaign issues, with reactions from Pestka’s camp. Thomas is quoted as saying:

People are fed up with the same old, same old as politics are done today. At its core, this plan answers many questions that are often asked and answered behind closed doors and without a public record open to scrutiny and evaluation.”

The MLive reporter did not hold such a statement up to any scrutiny, nor did he provide any analysis of the 20-page document called “Trevor’s Plan.” What follows is our assessment of the campaign document.

Trevor’s Plan is broken into four areas: job creation, investing, social policies and foreign policies. In many ways, his plan is just a reiteration of the same old mainstream Democratic Party policies, policies that don’t call for any fundamental structural change, just mild reforms on the domestic front and a continuation of imperialist policies abroad.

Operating within a Capitalist Framework

Thomas’ plan for job creation begins by saying we need to address the national debt, but he fails to mention the main factors to the current national debt – military spending and corporate welfare, with the most recent example being the Wall Street Bailout.

In his section on changing the tax system, Thomas uses language to suggest that everyone should pay their fair share, but he offers no concrete plan other than to say we should support Senator Levin’s plan, which is not sourced in the document. In the second section on taxes Thomas says he wants to reduce the corporate tax rate, something that both parties have been doing for the past four decades.

Thomas then says he sides with the Obama administration’s decision to bailout the auto industry, which besides being a form of corporate welfare, was conditioned on slashing health and pension benefits for union workers.

The Thomas Plan then states that he would eliminate tax breaks for companies sending jobs overseas and crack down on currency manipulation by other countries. Thomas fails to mention the recent decades of bi-partisan support for trade policies such as NAFTA, CAFTA, normalizing permanent trade relations with China, support for IMF and World Bank policies and the most recent passage of trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea that were introduced by the Obama administration. Not only does Thomas not acknowledge these policies, he doesn’t suggest anything to radically alter the impact that these policies have had on job loss in Michigan, creating global economic instability and increasing global poverty.

Thomas, then suggests that we should, “unleash venture capital for start-ups and entrepreneurs.” Here the Congressional candidate says he would support legislation that would allow for more public money to be used by businesses, which follows the West Michigan private sector mantra.

In his section on defending workers, Thomas says that we need to get unemployment under 6%, as if it is ok to have 5% of the population out of work. He also states that although unions are important we have to get past an Us versus Them mentality where unions should work together with employers and share information to solve problems. This does not seem to be the approach that the private sector has been taking by promoting Right to Work laws in Michigan.

Thomas does acknowledge that there is a problem of wage theft in West Michigan, but then misses the opportunity to make the link between wage theft and the treatment of farm workers and farm worker wages in the section on agriculture and the economy. Thomas does say in that section that he would work close with Senator Stabenow as chair of the Ag Committee, but he fails to mention the 2012 Farm Bill and its significance for the future of farming and agriculture in the US.

The Status Quo on Social Programs

The second section of Trevor Thomas’ plan focuses on social programs, where the candidate takes a standard liberal approach to things like federal funding for mass transit, investing in education, Social Security and student loans. In each of these areas he maintains a moderate approach, but he does not offer any clear legislation or organizing strategies to protect existing rights or to expand on them. Thomas also fails to address that the erosion of these policies have been a bi-partisan affair as well.

In his section on the environment, Thomas again follows a very moderate plan, where oil companies would stop getting subsidies, invest in wind energy, fight invasive species and create a green economy. Thomas wants to make West Michigan the Lithium Battery capitol of the nation, which makes it clear that his notion of environmental sustainability is tied to the private sector.

Thomas affirms his weak position on environmental sustainability when he says he supports fracking, “as long as it is done right.” Thomas does acknowledge the issue of climate change, but his response to this global crisis is to act, “in concert with the international community, and in ways that allow our industries to plan ahead – we can head off potentially devastating affects of carbon emissions on our nation’s climate.” Such a notion is pure fantasy and ignores the fact that the US and the other major industrial nations have undermined efforts at serious attempts to reduce current levels of carbon emissions.

Diversity and Inclusion as long as it doesn’t threaten power

In section three Thomas lays out his civil liberties/civil right policies. He prefaces this section by saying he will support legislation that embraces the values of former President Gerald Ford.

Thomas says he will fight to protect reproductive rights for women, Medicare for seniors and that he will not back down on fighting to defend the Affordable Health Care Act, despite the fact that the Obama health care legislation is really a corporate dominated policy.

The Third Congressional candidate goes on to say he supports diversity and inclusion policies such as those practiced by the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce. In the section on Domestic Partner Benefits he says it is a smart business decision, but Thomas never addresses any other serious issues that the LGBT community faces, such as the fact that anyone who identifies as LGBT can be fired from their job in Michigan.

Thomas states that he supports the Dream Act, which hasn’t passed after years of attempts, but fails to mention where he stands on any other aspect of immigration policy.

The Third Congressional Candidate also addresses some “individual rights” issues such as Internet access, Internet privacy, gun ownership and his opposition to indefinite detention. On the matter of indefinite detention, Thomas did not criticize the Obama administration as the main driving force behind this policy, nor the strong support given by Michigan Senator Carl Levin.

On the matter of the Wall Street Bailout, Thomas does not take a position on the massive public bailout, but he does say he supports the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), even though there is not strong evidence that the CFPB will be a real mechanism of accountability for the financial sector.

Thomas also says he supports campaign finance reform and acknowledges that corporations and Political Action Committees (PACs) have too much power in determining electoral outcome. He also mentions that supports electoral transparency, but then only tells people that he has received most of his money from donors who have given less than $100. However, Thomas does not provide any details on who has donated to his campaign, nor did he challenge the Obama campaign or that of many other Democrats who have reaped the benefits of Corporate Campaign donations.

Maintaining US military supremacy

In the fourth and final section of his plan Thomas says, “In my work with service members, I have been continually reminded of the importance of American leadership and our unparalleled capacity to bring peace, stability, and goodwill to the rest of the world. The next Congress must ensure we continue to serve in a position of strength and security.”

With such an opening comment, Thomas is either naïve about the history of US foreign policy or he embraces the imperial foreign policy that Democrats follow with as much zeal as Republicans. By promoting a non-nuclear Iran policy as the first in this section, it seems clear he is embraces imperialism. Thomas does not answer why Iran cannot have nuclear weapons, while the US and many of its allies can.

Thomas devotes a great deal of text to the need to continue US support for Israel, with language that looks as if it was lifted from the American Israeli Public Affairs Council (AIPAC). Thomas justifies Israeli aggression and the occupation of Palestinian land as self-defense against terrorism and says he will support the financial support for Israel, which receives $3 billion annually, making Israel the largest recipient of US foreign aid.

Trevor Thomas’ position on Afghanistan follows the mantra of Obama and Carl Levin by diverting attention from the brutality of the US/NATO occupation and focusing on the notion that Afghanis will eventually take control of their own security. Such a position ignores the murder of civilians, use of torture, detention centers, use of private security forces, drone warfare and the growing number of US military bases in that region of the world.

The 3rd Congressional candidate continues an imperialist position on foreign policy when he states, “We need to smartly engage in places like Syria, Egypt and Libya that are experiencing significant upheaval, rely on and work with our friends in NATO, and work to develop international support for policies that further American interests.” Thomas never clarifies what he means by “American interests.”

Lastly, Thomas supports a continuation of a bloated US military budget, one that dwarfs the rest of the world. He uses language such as “smart spending,” but Thomas avoids the harsh reality that the US military budget is obscenely large in order to maintain the military supremacy globally, which includes being number one in weapons sales and the maintenance of the estimated 1,000 global military bases, which should make it clear to anyone the imperial nature of US foreign policy.

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