The TPP And Terri Sewell, The Only Democrat Elected To Federal Office In Alabama

Lambert here: This short and sweet post explodes the loyalist Big Lie that Democrats “have to vote that way” because they’re from conservative districts; check the Partisan Voting Index (PVI) numbers. Terri Sewell was in no danger of losing her seat if she voted against “Fast Track.” What, then, could explain her vote? Read on.

By Down with Tyranny, originally published at that blog.

Thanksgiving reminder. On June 12, the House passed H.R. 1314, a bill to allow the TPP to move forward without congressional scrutiny. Pushed strenuously by Paul Ryan, it passed in a close vote, 219-211, 54 Republicans joined the 157 Democrats who opposed it. The list below is of the fake-Democrats who joined Ryan and the GOP majority to push this trade legislation through the House:

  • Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE)- R+4
  • Ami Bera (New Dem-CA)- even PVI
  • Don Beyer (New Dem-VA)- D+16
  • Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)- D+22
  • Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)- D+7
  • Gerry Connolly (New Dem-VA)- D+10
  • Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)- D+5
  • Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)- D+7
  • Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)- D+7
  • Susan Davis (New Dem-CA)- D+10
  • John Delaney (New Dem-MD)- D+4
  • Suzan DelBene (New Dem-WA)- D+4
  • Sam Farr (D-CA)- D+21
  • Jim Himes (New Dem-CT)- D+5
  • Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX)- D+5
  • Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)- D+27
  • Derek Kilmer (New Dem-WA)- D+5
  • Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)- D+5
  • Rick Larsen (New Dem-WA)- D+8
  • Greg Meeks (New Dem-NY)- D+35
  • Beto O’Rourke (New Dem-TX)- D+12
  • Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)- D+2
  • Jared Polis (New Dem-CO)- D+8
  • Mike Quigley (New Dem-IL) D+16
  • Kathleen Rice (New Dem-NY)- D+3
  • Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)- even PVI
  • Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)- D+20
  • Debbie Wasserman Schultz (New Dem-FL)- D+9

Often, an excuse is floated that a Democrat has no choice but to vote against working families and with Wall Street and the Republicans because their district is so red and they would be defeated if they didn’t badly. For that reason I’ve included the PVI [Partisan Voting Index] of each of the offending congressmembers’ district. In Terri Sewell’s D+20 district for example, the chances of her being defeated by a Republican are non-existent. Ditto for Debbie Wasserman Schultz in her D+9 district, not to mention overtly corrupt Greg Meeks’ D+35 district. Matter of fact, only one of these bad Dems represents a red district and only 2 others are even in competitive districts.

In fact, speaking to Sewell and her perfectly safe seat and horrible Republican-lite voting record, Andrew Perez, in his article for International Business Times a few days ago about Wall Street Democrats who are working to block consumer protection legislation in return for legalized bribes, has Sewell right up there with the most corrupt Democrats in the House, Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL), Kyrsten Sinema (New Dem-AZ), Jim Himes (New Dem-CT) and David Scott (New Dem-GA).

Sewell, who has raised over $1 million from the financial industry, joined Sinema in co-sponsoring the bill to eliminate protections for borrowers with mobile-home loans. Like Sinema, she also voted in favor of the Wall Street grab-bag bill combining language from nearly a dozen pieces of legislation to deregulate the financial industry and roll back Dodd-Frank. In 2012, Sewell signed on to a letter requesting the Federal Reserve amend the so-called Volcker Rule in Dodd-Frank, which would prohibit banks from making speculative trades with their own money.

Sewell, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, has taken more in legalized bribes from the Financial Sector this year than any other congressmember from Alabama. She’s already scooped up $151,500 and second-most-corrupt Alabamian, Republican Martha Roby, hasn’t even gotten half that, “just” $60,800. Since first entering Congress in 2011, Sewell has taken $1,067,970 from the Finance Sector alone. Last year she had no general election opponent and only token primary opposition; the last time a Republican challenged her, she beat him 232,520 (76%) to 85,106 (27%). So why sell out to Wall Street for all that money? Even with no opponent last year, she reported spending $1,468,013– after taking in a shocking $899,949 from pro-business PACs. Something doesn’t smell right.

Here’s the same list of trade traitors given above, but with phone numbers to incriminate the guilty. If you are “represented” by one such, do feel free to call them, and share your new-found information. –lambert

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. different clue

    The way to deal with these NAFTAcrats would be to Nader them in their primaries and if they won their primaries, then Nader them in the general election. If all the NAFTAcrats could be purged and exterminated from the Dparty, then the Dparty would be strictly composed of Trade Patriots. Then such a party could “go Gingrich” on the Trade Treason party, and use Gingrichian methods to paralyse the House and Senate as much as possible to prevent any bussiness of any sort from being conducted ever at all.

    And keep the House and Senate paralysed till they could reconquer it themselves seat by seat or till forever . . . whichever comes first.

    1. Carla

      When will you learn? The Dems and the Repubs serve the same masters. Those you call “Trade Patriots” will act as such only as long as it’s “safe” to do so. The problem is the “two party” system. It is utterly corrupt and beyond redemption.

      1. different clue

        Well, Carla, I’m not ready to learn it yet. So I will give Sanders a whirl in the primaries and see what happens. Also, I will support efforts here and there to Naderize various pro-Free Trade Democrats.
        We’ll see what I learn over time.

  2. sd

    Safe seats exchange votes with not safe seats. It’s an unfortunate reality that makes it difficult to know if members are actually voting as they intend. Very few have the courage to stand and be counted as someone like Barbara Lee.

  3. jgordon

    Why were these “fake Democrats”? All the Democrats as a group worked out who could take the hit and then had those safe members vote for it. If you truly want to make a difference via voting, then the party as a whole needs to punished for failing to stop the TPA; otherwise you’ve fallen into their trap.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      “If you truly want to make a difference via voting, then the party as a whole needs to punished . . “


      The Democratic Party lost my vote for all federal offices in 2016 and perhaps beyond the day earlier this month when Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC moved the goal posts to keep Larry Lessig out of the debates.

      1. Vatch

        I understand your frustration. DWS has behaved reprehensibly, and the Democratic tactic of “villain rotation” is quite underhanded. However, if the guy from Vermont somehow manages to become the Democratic nominee for President, I hope you will consider voting for him. For most of his career he has not been an official Democrat, so in a sense, you would be voting for an Independent candidate rather than for a Democrat, You would also still be able to vote against Democratic candidates for the House and Senate.

        1. polecat

          and if the guy from Vermont doesn’t receive the Dem nom, then what !?……as i’ve said before, with an exception of maybe a handfull (or less),congress don’t give a damn about you or i unless their palms are greased! how many petitions & calls have actually made a difference in congress doing the peoples work instead of their own???

          1. polecat

            How about a half to a million plebs converging on capitol hill shouting in unison “Despicable Treasonous Insider-Trading Trade Traitors”…….well….i can dream,..right!

          2. Vatch

            Of course you are correct that most members of Congress don’t care about the needs of their constituents. They only care about what their major donors want.

            I already expect to vote for third party candidates for non-Presidential offices. And if the Democratic candidate is Hillary, I’ll vote third party for President, as well.

          3. different clue

            Then vote for Trump, who will at least kick some shit over sideways and stomp on it.
            Or vote one or another Third Party and see how many other people voted the same way. Or leave the Presidential line blank.

            Any legacy Democrats living away from either coast who voted against NAFTA, etc. beFORE it got passed may well be sincere. Any particular proteges of any such trade patriot Democrats who have themselves left office might be a trade patriot.

            Pelosi of course will be massively re-elected by her limousine liberal silicon-liberfascistarian base no matter what. Nothing to be done about Pelosi and her sack-of-fece voters.

  4. TarheelDem

    The designations “Blue Dog” and “New Dem” have specific ideological meanings within the Democratic Party. Both are really traditional Democratic positions within their districts even before there was a Republican Party there. The Blue Dogs are the remaining (and closeted) Dixiecrats. The New Democrats are the “progressive” Chamber of Commerce Democrats who promoted the idea in the civil right era of being “too busy to hate” and acted thereafter as too busy to care. The predecessors of the Blue Dogs in the New Deal were folks like Cotton Ed Smith (Sen-SC). The predecessors of the New Democrats were folks like Luther Hodges (Gov-NC). The closest to New Deal Democrats you got in these areas were folks like Olin D. Johnston (Sen-SC), who never ceased being a segregationist.

    Thinking the modern successors to those folks are automatically progressive in their understanding is a delusion. Unlike the GOP, in the Democratic Party party alignment does not signify ideology. That is a big reason that polls get misread.

    The party establishment is more beholding to Blue Dogs and New Democrats nationwide than they are to Progressive Democrats. Until that changes geographically in the distribution of progressive votes and influence, this will continue to happen. In part, it is a result of progressives self-selecting not to be in non-progressive locations and consequently not having influence on their neighbors to reduce the craziness. In part, it is the result of the deindustrialization of the country in which the occupations more likely to be held by progressives got concentrated in compounds of various types of “creatives” or various centers of progressive cultural activities. In part, it the result of the partial mainstreaming of minorities in the wake of the desegregation in these areas. In part it is the result of LGBT openness requiring people to move away from these areas for their own safety.

    Progressives face a geographical, not a numerical, problem with the Democratic Party. And they face a bigger version of the same problem with any third party movements.

  5. Adam Eran

    Lacking the Koch bros. resources to primary these people, FDR democrats need to be willing to accept losing an election, or this will continue.

    The party itself in Bera’s district won’t endorse anyone with less than $500K in his/her pocket (issues be damned). That’s cynical, but it’s what passes for political wisdom now.

    If you haven’t already, please sign the petition at That organization promotes a constitutional amendment saying money isn’t speech (so political money can be regulated), *and* corporations aren’t people.

  6. David

    H.R. 1314, a bill to allow the TPP to move forward without congressional scrutiny.

    Not true. From FAS,

    Under TPA, an implementing bill may be eligible for this expedited consideration if (1) the trade agreement was negotiated during the limited time period for which TPA is in effect; (2) the agreement advances a series of U.S. trade negotiating objectives specified in the TPA statute; (3) the negotiations were conducted in conjunction with an extensive array of required notifications to and consultations with Congress and other stakeholders; and (4) the President submits to Congress a draft implementing bill, which must meet specific content requirements, and a range of required supporting information. If, in any given case, Congress judges that these requirements have not been met, TPA provides mechanisms through which the eligibility of the implementing bill for expedited consideration may be withdrawn in one or both chambers.

    A more accurate statement, from the same source,

    TPA allows Congress to consider the required implementing bill under expedited (“fast track”) procedures, pursuant to which the bill may come to the floor without action by the leadership, and can receive a guaranteed up-or-down vote with no amendments.

    1. Oregoncharles

      IOW, making the case that it doesn’t meet the requirements of the TPA is the likeliest strategy to block the TPP (f’ing confusing acronyms – but I think those are right).

  7. TG

    One is reminded that both Republican US Senators from Alabama, Shelby and Sessions, voted against TPA. Sessions didn’t just vote against it, he thundered against it and fought it as least as hard as Elizabeth Warren did. My own Alabama Congressman, freshman Republican Gray Palmer, also voted against it. So no, just because you live in a ‘conservative’ state doesn’t mean that you have to vote for Wall Street and against Main Street.

    Perhaps we need to move beyond the ‘oh the Democrats are bad but the Republicans are even worse so I must vote for a corrupt kleptocrat like Hillary Clinton’ meme. Some Republicans are not half bad, and might become better if they could count on getting credit when credit is due. And all too many Democrats are far beyond the pale…

    I would be careful about the term ‘legalized bribes’ though. Taking campaign contributions from big finance is bad enough, but to me the real bribery is when you cash in personally after you retire – collecting big speaking fees, being appointed to the boards of corporations etc.

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