Democratic Party platform is coming together (Updated)

The starry-eyed idealists who see themselves as revolutionaries and demand strict adherence to their ideological platform manifesto no doubt will see this compromise as selling out their cause, a betrayal of the glorious revolution.

In this respect, the left really is no better than the Tea Party on the ideological right. They reject the old axiom that “Politics is the art of compromise,” or as Otto Von Bismark framed it,Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best.” For them, “It’s my way or the highway.”

Nevertheless, more pragmatic and reasonable people are coming together on the Democratic Party platform. Bernie Sanders is getting much of what he wanted, but not all, as is the way of compromise.

David Weigel of the Washington Post reports, Here’s what Bernie Sanders has won in the Democratic platform (so far):

DNC-LogoOn Friday evening, Sen. Bernie Sanders told supporters in Syracuse, N.Y., that the Democratic Party was not yet embracing the progressive platform planks that he wanted — that the whole movement wanted. On Sunday, he repeated himself, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that “we’re going to take that fight to Orlando, where the entire committee meets in two weeks, and if we don’t succeed there, we are certainly going to take it to the floor of the Democratic convention.”

In the meantime, four of Sanders’s five appointees to the platform drafting committee had signed off on their partially finished product. (Cornel West was the lone holdout.) Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who had starred in an America Rising video that aimed to show Democrats that they were getting sold out, voted for the platform and praised its “significant accomplishments that move our party firmly toward justice, fairness, and inclusion.”

What were they? Two days later, the Democratic National Committee has yet to release the actual draft language. It has released summaries that suggest this platform has advanced from the bland language of 2012, when the goal of the little-watched drafting committee was to make no noise.

Minimum wage. The 2012 platform was rote, promising that Democrats would “raise the minimum wage, and index it to inflation.” That did not happen, something the party could always blame on Republican control of the House. According to the party, the new platform “already included language declaring that Americans should earn at least $15 an hour,” but with a commitment that fell short of what Sanders wanted. It also calls for an end to “sub-minimum wage for tipped workers”; tipped workers were not mentioned in the 2012 platform.

Earned income tax credit. The 2012 platform praised the president and congressional party for expanding the EITC, with no detail. The draft language for 2016 apparently includes language “expanding the EITC to low wage workers who don’t have children and to workers age 21 and older,” courtesy of Ellison.

Breaking up banks. The 2012 platform treated the 2008 financial crisis as an afterthought, something dealt with by an effective president. “Democrats are holding Wall Street accountable, bringing new transparency to financial markets, and ending taxpayer-funded bank bailouts and the era of ‘too big to fail,'” it said. The new platform, according to the DNC, suggests “an updated and modernized version of Glass-Steagall and breaking up too big to fail financial institutions that pose a systemic risk to the stability of our economy” and notes that Clinton’s allies (who made up a majority of committee members) suggested this.

Social Security. In 2012, Democrats again praised themselves for protecting the status quo against Republicans. “Democrats believe that Social Security and Medicare must be kept strong for seniors, people with disabilities, and future generations,” they wrote. This year, they adopted language that would raise the cap — a long-held goal of progressives — and start “taxing some of the income of people above $250,000.” The summary language describes this as “expanding” Social Security, though it falls short of what many Sanders voters want.

Immigration. The new platform calls for the closing of private detention centers, a Sanders goal not mentioned in any way four years ago.

Criminal justice reform. In 2012, the party claimed to “understand the disproportionate effects of crime, violence, and incarceration on communities of color and are committed to working with those communities to find solutions” and promised to “fight inequalities in our criminal justice system.” This year’s language is more specific: It calls for “ending the era of mass incarceration, shutting down private prisons, ending racial profiling, reforming the grand jury process, investing in re-entry programs, banning the box to help give people a second chance and prioritizing treatment over incarceration for individuals suffering addiction,” according to the summary.

Those are all wins for Sanders — but Sanders, crucially, has been describing the platform as too compromised, as he negotiates for more. The only part of his reaction to the platform that made news was his criticism.

The Associated Press over the weekend had a more positive take. Democrats approved platform draft with Sanders’ imprint:

A draft of the Democratic Party’s policy positions reflects the influence of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign: endorsing steps to break up large Wall Street banks, advocating a $15 hourly wage, urging an end to the death penalty.

Hillary Clinton’s supporters turned back efforts by Sanders’ allies to promote a Medicare-for-all single-payer health care system and a carbon tax to address climate change, and freeze hydraulic fracking.

While the platform does not bind the Democratic nominee to the stated positions, it serves as a guidepost for the party moving forward. Party officials approved the draft early Saturday.

The Democratic National Convention’s full Platform Committee will discuss the draft at a meeting next month in Orlando, Florida, with a vote at the convention in Philadelphia in late July.

Cartoon_21Sanders said Friday he would vote for Clinton, the presumptive nominee, in the fall election, but so far has stopped short of fully endorsing the former secretary of state or encouraging his millions of voters to back her candidacy.

The Vermont senator has said he wants the platform to reflect his goals — and those representing him at a St. Louis hotel said they had made progress.

“We lost some but we won some,” said James Zogby, a Sanders supporter on the committee. “We got some great stuff in the platform that has never been in there before.” Added Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., a Sanders ally: “We’ve made some substantial moves forward.”

Deliberating late into Friday, the group considered language on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, an issue that has divided Democrats. The committee defeated an amendment led by Zogby that would have called for providing Palestinians with “an end to occupation and illegal settlements” and urged an international effort to rebuild Gaza.

The draft reflects Clinton’s views and advocates working toward a “two-state solution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict” that guarantees Israel’s security with recognized borders “and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity.”

In many cases, Clinton’s side gave ground to Sanders. The document calls for the expansion of Social Security and says Americans should earn at least $15 an hour, referring to the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour as a “starvation wage,” a term often used by Sanders.

Sanders has pushed for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Clinton has supported efforts to raise the minimum wage to that level but has said states and cities should raise the bar as high as possible.

Sanders’ allies wanted the draft to specify calls for a $15 per hour minimum wage indexed with inflation. Clinton’s side struck down a direct link, noting the document elsewhere included a call to “raise and index the minimum wage.”

The committee also adopted language that said it supports ways to prevent banks from gambling with taxpayers’ bank deposits, “including an updated and modernized version of Glass-Steagall.”

Sanders wants to reinstate the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which prohibited commercial banks from engaging in investment banking activities. Clinton does not, but says her proposed financial changes would cast a wider net by regulating the banking system.

Also in the draft is a call for the abolition of the death penalty. Clinton said during a debate this year that capital punishment should only be used in limited cases involving “heinous crimes.” Sanders said the government should not use it.

Sanders, a vociferous opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, was unable to get language into the document opposing the trade deal. As a result, the party avoided an awkward scenario that would have put the platform at odds with President Barack Obama.

Clinton and Sanders have opposed the deal. Committee members backed a measure that said “there are a diversity of views in the party” on the pact and reaffirmed that Democrats contend any trade deal “must protect workers and the environment.”

In a setback for Sanders, the panel narrowly rejected amendments that would have imposed a tax on carbon and imposed a national freeze on fracking.

The panel deliberated for about nine hours following several late nights and long hours of policy exchanges between the two campaigns and the Democratic National Committee.

Sanders, in a statement, said he was “disappointed and dismayed” that the group voted down the measure opposing the TPP. But he was pleased with the proposals on Glass-Steagall and the death penalty — and vowed to fight on.

“Our job is to pass the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party,” he said.

Actually, “our job” is to win elections. The average voter does not know nor care what is in the Democratic Party platform. How many of you have even read the 2012 Democratic National Platform (.pdf). Yeah, that’s what I thought. Democrats will spend months fighting with one another over the party platform, but once it is adopted, it is soon forgotten.

UPDATE: Greg Sargent of the Washington Post asks “What is Bernie Sanders thinking?” regarding Sanders’ CNN interview. Bernie Sanders has won some big concessions. But he still won’t endorse Hillary Clinton. “[I]t’s unclear at this point how much withholding that endorsement will actually do to accomplish what he wants to accomplish. … But it’s no longer clear that holding out will have that much of an influence on the shape of the platform in the end. And it may even risk diminishing the import of that endorsement once it happens.”

On Tuesday, Rep. Raul Grijalva — the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and one of Sanders’s most important supporters in Congress — told Greg Sargent  that Sanders should endorse Clinton before the convention, and suggested that the failure to do so could make the job of defeating Donald Trump harder. Top Sanders supporter: He must endorse Clinton before the Dem convention:

“It’s got to happen prior to the convention,” Grijalva told me. “It would make coalescing to defeat Donald Trump easier. It makes the process of unifying to defeat Trump and elect Hillary smoother.” At the convention, Grijalva added, there should be no uncertainty about Sanders’s position, so that the topic can be all about “defeating Donald Trump and the content of the platform.”

Based upon some of the comments to the above post, I suppose Raul Grijalva, Keith Ellison and the entire Progressive Caucus are now “sell outs” like progressive Elizabeth Warren? Get a grip people. You are embarrassing yourselves.

13 thoughts on “Democratic Party platform is coming together (Updated)”

  1. Why do elected Dems flock to Hillary? Fear of reprisal from the DNC and Clinton machines. Sort of like the administrators in TUSD to HT Sanchez.

  2. clinton may try bait and switch. let the bernie supporters think they get warren and little tommie the cypher kaine pops out at the convention. washington post poll has clinton up by 12 points as long as pollsters tell those being polled they can’t vote third party only not voting alowed in poll. look at polls where third party candidates are allied.

  3. You quote the AP:

    “Sanders, a vociferous opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, was unable to get language into the document opposing the trade deal. As a result, the party avoided an awkward scenario that would have put the platform at odds with President Barack Obama.

    Clinton and Sanders have opposed the deal. Committee members backed a measure that said “there are a diversity of views in the party” on the pact and reaffirmed that Democrats contend any trade deal “must protect workers and the environment.””

    Shouldn’t we at least question what’s going on there? If Clinton truly opposed the TPP, why the hell would her surrogates not be willing to have the platform say so?

    Call me cynical, but I think this is the first betrayal, as the Common Dreams piece suggests.

    • The reason is stated in the article: a party does not adopt a position diametrically opposed to the policy of a popular sitting president of that party. You don’t need a conspiracy theory to explain. Platforms are only broad policy statements, and the language is always carefully parsed so as not to offend and to get it approved at the convention. Once it’s been approved, it is quickly forgotten. Much ado about nothing.

  4. But it is a sellout most vividly exemplified by Elizabeth Warren’s Ohio appearance today in OH is Goldman’s Girl! Accepting this platform by Warren? Repugnant!If that’s not a sellout I don;t know what is!

      • To counter your link with another, snark free, of course! 🙂

        If you’ll recall the 2008 primary, Hillary didn’t give up the minute she was mathematical eliminated. The Obama/Clinton battle was brutal.

        It was anonymous emails from Clinton supporters that started the whole birther movement, for crying out loud.

        And when all was said and done, Clinton got Secretary of State.

        There were millions of HRC supporters who said they’d never vote for Obama.

        Yet here we are, winding down his second term.

        Clinton/Sanders has been a summer romance compared to 2008.

        Sanders still has leverage and he’s using it. We’ll say uncle (and compromise) when we’re ready.

        Sanders said he’ll vote for Clinton. Clinton will win in a landslide. The sky is not falling, it’s just politics.

        • Elizabeth Warren eclipsed Bernie Sanders today. She has the respect of millions of progressives and gave Hillary Clinton a strong endorsement. Today is a pivotal day in the election.

    • I agree, Sanda, Elizabeth Warren sold out but I don’t think that was her intention. It is doubtful that she changed her basic values and beliefs, but she made a bad move, endorsing the newly minted but not to be believed “progressive” Hillary Clinton under the banner of “Trump is a Monster and He Must Be Defeated.” Either Hillary promised her something too good to turn down, or she just simply miscalculated the fallout from Bernie supporters. This has definitely changed my opinion of her, she will have to redeem herself.

      I just don’t see her as the VP pick for the re-booted old war horse presumptive nominee. Hillary needs someone younger, a male, white and perhaps Hispanic. I can’t throw out any names. I really don’t care who runs with her. This person will be essentially powerless unless Hillary dies or is somehow forced out of office.

  5. democratic party has to earn our votes, it is not entailed to them! yelling trump does not earn our votes and the direct opposite could be argued that a trump victory destroyed the republican party and cleanses the democratic party of the clinton corporate dlc infestation. so azbm earn our votes don’t demand them.

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