E. Bonior was elected to the 10th Congressional
District of Michigan in 1976. From 1991-2002,
Congressman Bonior was the Democratic Whip, the
second in command in the House Democratic Leadership.
Throughout his political career, Congressman
Bonior made it a priority to work on a wide range
of issues, including fair trade, issues affecting
women, improvement of the education system, health
care coverage for all, the environment, civil
and human rights, and election reform. He currently
is a Professor in the College of Urban, Labor & Metropolitan
Affairs, Wayne State University.
A New Trajectory for Globalization
Amy Lerman, Department of Political Science
his public talk at UC Berkeley on April 3, 2003 Professor
David Bonior outlined his idea for a North American Parliamentary
Union (NAPU) and discussed why he believes such a body
North American Parliamentary Union should be a democratic
structure which will enfranchise citizens, farmers, laborers,
small business people and environmentalists in the NAFTA
countries as well as Central America. It will broaden the
players and the playing field so that our best democratic
values will be incorporated into our social, economic and
political decisions,” said Bonior.
the history of U.S. relations with its neighbors — its
southern neighbors in particular — as “episodic,” Bonior
asserted the need for a more permanent on-going dialogue.
Such a dialogue would seek to tackle the hard issues of
immigration and economic development that have historically
gone largely ignored in trinational debate. He went on
to draw parallels between the needs of NAFTA members and
the benefits of a European Union type model, arguing that
the EU model is one that should be emulated. In so doing,
Bonior asserted, the fundamental flaws of NAFTA might finally
cited President Vicente Fox of Mexico as a strong advocate
for turning NAFTA into a European Union type common market
model. Human development and prosperity for all would be
the central tenets of the new model, rather than the unfettered
free trade that is the foundations of the current NAFTA
plan. Bonior pointed out that, in the EU, one third of
the total market budget is dedicated to narrowing the gap
between more and less developed countries. A challenge
to the neoliberal approach to trade advocated by the “school
of economic injustice” is one that must finally be
mounted, said Bonior. “We have failed miserably to
understand that you can’t do NAFTA on the cheap and
expect it to succeed.”
warned against the possibility he foresaw in the current
trend towards free market globalization. The future, he
suggested, presents a world in which all of the human rights
that have been hard won in America in the last century
are lost. Unemployment benefits, child labor laws, minimum
wage and the eight hour day are standards that are taken
for granted in the contemporary American work force, but
all were fought for by those who were convinced that the
benefits of free trade did not demand foregoing the rights
of workers. Today, Bonior asserted, we are facing once
again the same struggle of balancing the desires of capital
and labor, but on a global scale.
NAPU, Bonior’s proposal for a new institutional governing
structure, the foundations would be in place for a productive
and on-going dialogue around these vital questions of justice
and prosperity. Though Bonior’s conception of NAPU
is still in its formative stages, he offered that NAPU
representatives would be either appointed or elected and
could be organized by national identity or in partisan
coalitions. NAPU could come together for an annual meeting,
as the EU governing body currently does, or more often.
Eventually, he suggested, there might even be call for
a permanent sitting NAPU.
problem that such a proposition will surely face, however,
will be the concern over threats to national sovereignty
that will arise in the domestic politics of all three NAFTA
countries. Like the EU, Bonior countered, NAPU will simply
have to start small and then develop into a stronger body.
Initially, NAPU might be limited to serving as an advisory
board. Eventually, a trinational constitution could be
drafted and NAPU could be vested with budgetary powers.
At that point, it could truly begin to deal effectively
with such cross-national issues as domestic trade infrastructure
and development inequalities.
closed with a call for leadership and determination in
looking towards a new trajectory for globalization. We
already have NAFTA, he said, and “we can’t
put the toothpaste back in the tube,” but we can
work towards the establishment of a new system that better
serves the needs of all.
Harley Shaiken (left), chair of the
Center for Latin American Studies, walks across
the Berkeley campus with David and Judy