The Democratic Party platform comes together

DNC-LogoIn case you missed it over the long 4th of July holiday weekend, the draft Democratic Party platform was posted in advance of the convention. 2016 Democratic Party Platform DRAFT (.pdf).

Steve Benen writes, Bernie Sanders scores big wins with Democratic platform:

[Bernie Sanders] and his aides turned their attention to the Democratic platform, launching a spirited fight to move the document to the left. As of late last week, there can be little doubt that Sanders has succeeded: as MSNBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald reported, Dems are moving forward with “what is almost certainly the most progressive platform in the party’s history.”

The draft platform states Americans should earn $15 per hour and have a right to join a union, and it supports a so-called “model employer executive order” to raise standards for federal government contractors. It calls for the complete abolishment of the death penalty, stating, “It has no place in the United States of America.”

On Wall Street, the platform lays out a number of reforms proposed by Clinton, Sanders and other Democrats, and states the party “will not hesitate to use and expand existing authorities as well as empower regulators to downsize or break apart financial institutions,” it states.

The document, which is available in its entirety, is surprising in its audacity on everything from free community college to expanding Social Security, overturning Citizens United to banning assault weapons, criminal justice reform to repealing the Hyde Amendment that prevents public funding of abortion.

There can be little doubt that many of these provisions and more — reforming the carried-interest loophole, postal banking, the industry ties of Federal Reserve board members — can be attributed directly to the Sanders campaign’s role in negotiating the terms of the platform. The senator and his team made a concerted effort to move the document to the left, and they achieved their goals in dramatic fashion. The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent noted late last week, shortly before the platform draft was released, that Sanders has won “some big victories,” and that’s absolutely true.

The question is whether that will be enough.

Thus far, officials with Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC have been working with Sanders’ team, but the senator hasn’t won every fight. He wants the platform to oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership, which Democrats are unwilling to put in the document since President Obama supports and negotiated the trade agreement. Sanders also fought for an endorsement of single-payer health care and a new tax on carbon, but the party wasn’t prepared to go along with these provisions, either.

That said, as an objective matter, Sanders has had at least as much of an impact on the Democratic platform as any second-place finisher in modern times. The senator may have come up short in the national race, but he nevertheless succeeded in his principal, short-term goal.

And yet, over the holiday weekend, Sanders wrote an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer arguing that his victories aren’t enough: the platform, he said, “needs to be significantly improved.”

The senator has said more than once during his candidacy that he’s prepared to do everything within his power to defeat Donald Trump and elect the Democratic ticket. And while it’s very likely that Sanders will follow through on that commitment, it’s unclear when, exactly, he’ll start pursuing this goal.

POLITICO Tiger Beat on The Potomac reported Sanders was booed by House Democrats on Tuesday during a tense question-and-answer session on whether he would ultimately endorse Clinton and help foster party unity:

Sanders still hasn’t endorsed one-time rival Hillary Clinton and dodged questions about when he would during a tense meeting Wednesday morning with House Democrats.

Sanders also stunned some of the Democrats in attendance when he told them that winning elections isn’t the only thing they should focus on. While they wanted to hear about how to beat Donald Trump — and how Sanders might help them win the House back — he was talking about remaking the country.

The goal isn’t to win elections, the goal is to transform America,” Sanders said at one point, according to multiple lawmakers and aides in the room.

Some Democrats booed Sanders for that line, which plays better on the campaign trail than in front of a roomful of elected officials.

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“It was frustrating because he’s squandering the movement he built with a self-obsession that was totally on display,” said a senior Democrat, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Here’s the thing, Bernie … Democrats first have to get elected to office before they can “transform America.” Focus on electing a Democratic president and Congress, governors and state legislatures, and then maybe we can actually get around to doing something about your “revolution” rhetoric. Get the Democratic donkey out in front of the cart first.

The latest development: AP Source: Clinton, Sanders discussing endorsement event:

The Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaigns are discussing a potential event next week in New Hampshire, during which the Vermont senator would endorse Clinton’s White House bid.

A Democrat familiar with the plans said Wednesday if the two sides continue to make progress, Clinton and Sanders would appear at the joint event Tuesday in New Hampshire. The Democrat spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the plans.

Clinton and Sanders officials declined comment on the possible rally, which was first reported by NBC News.

Bernie Sanders praised Hillary Clinton’s announcement of a proposal on Wednesday to tackle the rising cost of college tuition and the burden of student loan debt, calling it a “very bold initiative.” In a positive sign for Democratic unity, Sanders said he hoped to find more areas of agreement with Clinton “sooner rather than later.” Clinton takes big step toward easing tensions with Sanders.

James Downie at the Washington Post writes today, The Democratic platform is far more liberal than four years ago. Here’s why that matters.

The draft 2016 version leaked Friday shifts noticeably leftward from its 2012 counterpart in both policy and language. While not yet set in stone, the change is an encouraging sign that activists’ years of work are paying off and that the party is embracing an agenda that speaks to the concerns of millions of Americans who have too often been forgotten in mainstream political debate.

From the opening of the 2016 draft platform, one can see the rhetorical fingerprints of progressive movements, especially Black Lives Matter and the insurgent presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). In the preamble, the authors warn that “as working people struggle, the top one percent accrues more wealth and more power” and “our nation’s long struggle with race is far from over.” Though the 2012 platform repeatedly criticized inequality and — to a lesser extent — discrimination, it had none of the stridency of the 2016 draft version. “The greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street must be brought to an end,” it declares. (Can you imagine the New Democrats of the 1990s putting illegal behavior and Wall Street in the same sentence?) Later, the authors promise that the party “will push for a societal transformation to make it clear that black lives matter.” Not too long ago, more politically cautious Democrats would have steered clear of phrases like that, but here they are.

The changes go beyond rhetoric to genuine policy differences. The 2012 platform, when discussing helping the middle class, centered on extending tax cuts. Although the party included a sentence calling for a higher minimum wage, it did not specify a target. The 2016 draft drops the tax cuts for a minimum wage increase to “at least $15 an hour,” undoubtedly a nod to the “Fight for 15” movement embraced by Sanders.

Similarly, the new platform endorses specific reforms of the criminal justice system — closing private prisons, giving police training in conflict de-escalation and body cameras, “banning the box,” prioritizing “treatment over incarceration in tackling addiction” and so on — all new in 2016. And for the first time, the Democratic platform calls for abolishing the death penalty. The party has traveled a long way from Bill Clinton returning to Arkansas mid-campaign for the execution of Ricky Ray Rector.

Even President Obama’s signature piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act, is overtaken by the shift to the left. The 2012 platform was understandably content to focus on the law’s successes; with Hillary Clinton’s determination to benefit from Obama’s legacy, the 2016 version might be expected to do the same. Yet the drafters go much further, declaring that “Americans should be able to access public coverage through Medicare or a public option.” It is extraordinary that Democrats are saying that the most popular figure in the party’s biggest accomplishment is not liberal enough.

There are other victories for progressives and activists throughout the draft, such as a prohibition on Wall Street firms choosing which credit agency rates their products and support for postal banking for low-income Americans. Progressives did not win every fight; there is no call for a ban on fracking or opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Given that Obama opposes both stances, any hope for victory on those issues was always naive. But overall, this would be the most progressive Democratic platform in history.

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The 2016 Democratic draft reflects a far more progressive party than even four years ago.

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These victories are also good for the Democratic Party. Too often in the past, the interests of minorities, the poor and others have been either ignored or barely acknowledged in the party’s platform. But the version being prepared for 2016 suggests Democrats are starting to take their interests seriously, and that can only be a good thing for the country.

9 responses to “The Democratic Party platform comes together

  1. John Huppenthal

    A $15 minimum wage is part of the insanity of the democrat party. Brazil has its favela’s. Hovels without electricity, water or sanitation – families locked out of the labor market by the minimum wage. We are now moving into a more dangerous phase of economic insanity both within Arizona and nationally.

    Minimum wage laws are devastating to the poor. Nationwide, over 80% of young African Americans are locked out of the ladder of economic opportunity by minimum wage laws.

    David Neumark has written an entire book meticulously sifting hundreds of research studies on minimum wage impacts. Bottom line: minimum wage laws reduce the income of the poor and change the economic trajectory of the poor for the worse.

    • For Sure Not Tom

      So what you’re saying is countries without minimum wage laws are experiencing exploding economic growth bringing the middle class and poor to new levels of security and prosperity.

      Except that doesn’t happen, because countries without minimum wage laws are third world countries, impoverished and often war torn, and countries with minimum wage laws are first world countries.

      I do not want to live in a third world country, Falcon9, but you read a whole book all by yourself, so do I believe you or my lying eyes?

      Dilema. Such a dilema.

      Someday, Falcon9, perhaps you could explain why Germany is an economic and manufacturing powerhouse, a small country competing with and often beating China, a Germany that is run as a social democracy, with free enterprise and strong social protections, along with strong unions.

      Because by your thinking (if you can call it that), Germany should be a train wreck.

      Except that it’s not.

      • John Huppenthal

        No, that’s not what I am saying. When you have a high growth economy it is easy to fabricate studies down playing the damage done by minimum wage studies that are voraciousl consumed by the morons following Bernie. Now, with an anemic economy, the damage is glaring. Over 80% of young African Americans are locked out of the job market.

        What we are seeing on the streets is the screams of an entire segment of society trapped by liberal policy makers in very unsatisfying lives.

        The response is to make things worse, much worse. I will look up the data on the number of jobs paying less than 12 an hour, here and in California. Neumark, an excellent economist predicts those jobs shifting from minorities to whites and jobs being destroyed.

        We will see who is right.

        The permanent underclass is already here, now the trap will be stronger.

  2. captain*arizona

    what is the democratic plan to bring jobs back to the rust belt?

    • For Sure Not Tom

      If you mean manufacturing, manufacturing is already returning to the US.

      But the jobs are not coming back because manufacturing is now automated. Same with warehouse work, and even some jobs that you’d think would stay local, like pharmacies, are being moved to massive warehouse sized automated pharmacies.

      Next is self driving cars/trucks/farm equipment, accounting for about 8 millions jobs. That will take 15 to 20 years, but it’s already started.

      Uber plans on running autonomous cars in 5 years. So much for Gov. Ducey “bringing jobs to AZ” through Uber.

      And I’ve been meaning to ask, are you Cormac McCarthy?

      • captain*arizona

        I don’t know who that is so no I am not. the next anti free trader may not be another trump. bernie has come close. automation competes with low paying competition from abroad. making other countries buy 90 % of goods from us that they sell to us or they don’t sell to us will go along way to redress this,

      • Jim Hannan

        Tom,
        I totally agree. John Nichols of the Nation magazine has just written a book called “People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy”. He says that job automation is the number one topic in the tech world. And driving vehicles of all kinds, trucks, forklifts, etc is the number one job in every state for males.

    • AZ BlueMeanie

      Why don’t you show some initiative and do your own research to educate yourself instead of being this lazy SOB troll who demands to be spoon fed like a baby all the time?

  3. For Sure Not Tom

    Excellent post. Thank you.

    The draft has watermarks over every inch, making it hard to read, but while it’s not perfect, it’s a pretty damn good start.

    I can clearly feel the Bern in some parts. They read like a Sanders speech.

    Compare it to the GOP 2012 platform, which reads like a Tea Party email, or the Texas Republican platform from 2012 where they actually wanted to abolish teaching “critical thinking skills” in schools. OMG.

    How are Republicans even a thing?

    The Trump GOP platform should be fun.