By Glynn Wilson –
By getting involved in the Democratic Party and joining the fight for the platform, Bernie Sanders supporters are having a profound influence on the party’s direction for the future at meetings this week in Orlando, Florida ahead of the party’s convention in Philadelphia next month, according to sources taking part in the meetings, although they are not winning every battle.
The 15-member Democratic Party Platform committee is made up of six members appointed by presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, five appointed by second place primary finisher Bernie Sanders, and four members from the Democratic Party Executive Committee. In addition, 187 delegates to the convention were allowed input and involvement in drafting the platform and voting on provisions. Of those there were 70 Bernie Sanders delegates with votes.
A draft of the document, obtained exclusively by the New American Journal Friday afternoon, indicates that the party will run on the issues such as overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling allowing unlimited campaign contributions by corporations and unions as free speech in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission.
It calls for expanding Social Security, closing tax loop holes for the rich and corporations and making it easier for workers to join unions. It puts pressure on the next president and Congress to take on the big pharmaceutical companies, to ban private prisons, to legalize or decriminalize marijuana, and pushes for easier auto voter registration. In a vote of 13-0, the committee calls for working to abolish the death penalty.
“Democrats believe we are stronger when we protect citizens’ right to vote, not corporations’ and billionaires’ right to buy elections,” the draft reads. “We will bring an end to the broken campaign finance system, overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision, restore the full power of the Voting Rights Act, and return our elections to the American people.”
According to a source close to the committee who wished to remain anonymous, the Bernie Sanders contingent fought for the provisions on Citizens United, prisons, marijuana and the death penalty, but lost in an attempt to get a firm commitment on a mandatory minimum wage of $15 an hour. The language now in the platform is more vague and leaves it up to the states.
The draft document now reads like this.
“Democrats believe that the current minimum wage is a starvation wage and must be increased to a living wage. No one who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty. We believe that Americans should earn at least $15 an hour and have the right to form or join a union. We applaud the approaches taken by states like New York and California. We should raise and index the minimum wage, give all Americans the ability to join a union regardless of where they work, and create new ways for workers to have power in the economy. We also support creating one fair wage for all workers by ending the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers and people with disabilities.”
The Sanders continent also lost on a sweeping statement on fighting climate change, on pushing for a carbon tax, on banning fracking for methane gas, and on pushing for a single payer health care plan.
According to a search of the PDF file, the word “fracking” does not even appear in the document, nor do the words “single payer.” Universal health care is a line item in the table of contents, but the language indicates only a call for expanding the number of people covered under the current Affordable Care Act, a.k.a Obamacare, a private health care system augmented by federal dollars to expand Medicaid (which some states such as Alabama have opted not to participate in at all).
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There are lots of mentions of climate change in the draft, including a direct assault on Donald Trump by name.
“Democrats believe that climate change poses a real and urgent threat to our economy, our national security, and our children’s health and futures, and that Americans deserve the jobs and security that come from becoming the clean energy superpower of the 21st century,” the document reads.
In a section devoted to combating climate change and building a clean energy economy, and securing environmental justice, the document declares that “climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time.”
Fifteen of the 16 hottest years on record have occurred this century, the document says.
“While Donald Trump has called climate change a ‘hoax,’ 2016 is on track to break global temperature records once more,” the document says. “Cities from Miami to Baltimore are already threatened by rising seas. California and the West have suffered years of brutal drought. Alaska has been scorched by wildfire. New York has been battered by superstorms, and Texas swamped by flash floods. The best science tells us that without ambitious, immediate action to cut carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases across our economy, all of these impacts will be far worse in the future. We cannot leave our children a planet that has been profoundly damaged.”
Democrats share a deep commitment to tackling the climate challenge, the draft continues, along with “creating millions of good-paying middle class jobs; reducing greenhouse gas emissions more than 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050; and meeting the pledge President Obama put forward in the landmark Paris Agreement, which aims to keep global temperature increases to ‘well below’ two degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“We believe America must be running entirely on clean energy by mid-century,” the draft continues. “We will take bold steps to slash carbon pollution and protect clean air at home, lead the fight against climate change around the world, ensure no Americans are left out or left behind as we accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy, and be responsible stewards of our natural resources and our public lands and waters. Democrats reject the notion that we have to choose between protecting our planet and creating good-paying jobs. We can and we will do both.”
In another section on creating jobs by rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, it contains a declaration that Democrats “will protect communities from the impact of climate change by investing in green and resilient infrastructure.”
In a section on Honoring Indigenous Tribal Nations, the document says the Democratic Party is “committed to principles of environmental justice in Indian Country and we recognize that nature in all its life forms has the right to exist, persist, maintain, and regenerate its vital cycles. We call for a climate change policy that protects tribal resources, protects tribal health, and provides accountability through accessible, culturally appropriate participation and strong enforcement. Our climate change policy will cut carbon emission, address poverty, invest in disadvantaged communities, and improve both air quality and public health. We support the tribal nations to develop wind, solar and other clean energy jobs.”
The platform also calls for reviews of trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership, although the Sanders contingent wanted a stronger opposition statement. It calls for more health coverage through public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. And it calls for federal investigations of fossil fuel companies accused of misleading shareholders on climate change.
The committee drafting the platform last weekend approved the document, which spells out the party’s policy priorities. Members still have time to propose amendments and there is another meeting in Orlando next week. Then, the document will formally be adopted at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia July 25-28.
The document starts out with a preamble of accomplishments by the Obama administration.
“Under President Obama’s leadership, and thanks to the hard work and determination of the American people, we have come a long way from the Great Recession and the Republican policies that triggered it. We have seen 75 straight months of private-sector job growth and added 14.5 million new jobs. Twenty million people have gained health insurance coverage. The American auto industry just had its best year ever. We are getting more of our energy from the sun and wind, and importing less oil from overseas.”
We are still going through the document and talking to sources and may add more to this draft breaking news story over the weekend.
We welcome your feedback in the form of comments below.
© 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.