How Far Left Will The Democratic Party Move? Draft Platform Tells Us
The Democratic Platform Drafting Committee on Saturday released a draft of policy positions that reflect a slight move to the left pushed by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
This committee was one of the theaters for the wind down of Sen. Sanders’ populist presidential campaign. The Vermont senator has expressed that he wants to ensure the Democratic party embraces a progressive platform before he fully endorses its presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton.
The document is the result of negotiations by 15 panel members – six named by Clinton, five named by Sanders, and the remaining four named by Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
“Our candidates ran strong campaigns that addressed the priorities of the American people, and I am proud to say that the drafting process has reflected our commitment as a party to elevating their voices.” read a statement by Wasserman Schultz.
The draft adopts Sanders’ position on expanding Social Security and the importance of going after Wall Street, stating that “The Democratic Platform will make clear that Wall Street cannot be an island unto itself, gambling trillions in risky financial instruments and making huge profits, all the while thinking that taxpayers will be there to bail them out again.” The document says Democrats will work towards the breakup of some large Wall Street banks and argues for expanding Dodd-Frank and passing “an updated and modernized version of Glass-Steagall.”
The committee also took Sander’s side on the death penalty, explicitly opposing it for the first time in the party’s history. Clinton has said she supports the death penalty in some cases.
The compromise also advocates for a $15-per-hour minimum wage, calling the current $7.25 an-hour wage a “starvation wage,” borrowing Sander’s language. However, the draft does not fully adhere to Sanders’ view on this issue; it does not explicitly state that the federal minimum wage should be raised to $15-per-hour. Clinton has said states and cities should make the decision to raise the minimum wage individually.
The committee also pledged to work for comprehensive immigration reform, honoring indigenous tribal nations, reproductive rights, and criminal justice reform, including a slew of demands of the Black Lives Matter movement:
“The current draft 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.”
There were some issues that the Sanders’ camp could not move forward. The committee rejected language supporting a Medicare-for-all singer-payer health care system, a carbon tax, and a fracking ban.
“We lost some but we won some,” said committee member and Sanders supporter James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute. “We got some great stuff in the platform that has never been in there before.”
Although both Clinton and Sanders oppose the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP), Clinton’s team voted against including language in the draft that opposed it. The White House lobbied against including language in the platform that reflected opposition to the president’s trade deal.
“I don’t want to do anything as he ends his term to undercut the president of the United States,” said panel chairman and Clinton supporter Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, who also opposes the TPP.
According to the Washington Post, panel member and Sanders supporter Cornell West said that “the responsibilities of citizenship should transcend loyalty to the president.” The activist and scholar abstained from approving the draft.
Sanders’ camp also failed to add language about elevating Palestinian sovereignty to a policy objective for the U.S. and clearly labeling Israel military presence in the West Bank as an occupation. Instead, the document takes Clinton’s position on the issue, advocating for a “two-state solution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict” that guarantees Israel’s security under recognized borders “and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity.”
The Sanders’ campaign has stated that they are not done pushing for more of the issues in their agenda. Sanders said on Friday that he would endorse Clinton when she says “the things that need to be said.”
The draft, which does not bind the Democratic nominee to its positions, is set to go on to the Platform Committee at a meeting in Orlando on July 8th and 9th. It will then be presented for final ratification at the Democratic National Convention later the same month.
Photo: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during the Univision News and Washington Post Democratic U.S. presidential candidates debate in Kendall, Florida March 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri