The 187-member Democratic Platform Committee completed two long contentious days of work in the early morning hours today, after a long Saturday that got started late, frequently involved shouting, and went late. “Delegates on both sides noting it’s the first genuinely contested platform process since 1988.” The Bernie Sanders effect was a document that is clearly more progressive than if only Hillary Clinton’s direction was reflected, as he has forced her to the left on some issues including college tuition reform. But it wasn’t enough, as the vote on TPP illustrated. But first, some Sanders platform wins and losses:
Sanders initiative victories: $15 minimum wage (with Clinton delegates adding “over time” to the original amendment). Police reform: – a ‘unity’ amendment presented jointly by delegates for both candidates (former NAACP president Benjamin Jealous and Trayvon Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump) that commits Democrats to “require the use of body cameras,” stop “racial profiling,” and “stop the use of weapons of war that have no place in our communities.”
Sanders initiatives voted down: Fracking: Bernie Sanders is for banning it, Hillary Clinton said she was against it, but has accepted money via Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative from interests promoting tracking, and as Secretary of State promoted fracking to foreign nations. Fracking ban – written by Josh Fox, who wrote and directed the film Gasland – was voted down by Clinton platform committee members. Social Security: Clinton delegates also blocked two amendments that would have committed the party to expanding Social Security, specifically by eliminating the cap on Social Security taxes and creating a new cost of living index for Social Security benefits to replace COLA. At that vote, Sanders supporters observing from the sidelines shouted, “Are you Democrats?”
Middle-east: New Jersey platform delegate Dr. Cornel West (Sanders) led a debate to pass an amendment backing “an end to occupation and illegal settlements” in Palestinian territory. It was blocked. Campaign finance: Also going down was a platform proposal to go farther than undoing Citizens United by capping donations to campaigns at $100 and requiring public financing. Both campaigns talked campaign finance reform, but Sanders actually put his money where his mouth was, raising record amounts without superPACs and with small donations.
After two full days of contentious discussion lasting into early morning hours, there was more – including a last-minute proposal by NARAL president, and personal friend of Clinton, implying Clinton was the nominee. That was shouted down.
But what I want to focus on was the Sanders-backed strong language against the TPP. Clinton’s record on trade policy was a big issue in the primary – both NAFTA & TPP. Clinton was once TPP’s cheerleader, but shifted her position as she ran for president. So, look, both Clinton and Sanders now say they oppose TPP, which groups representing working Americans say will lead to loss of American jobs, be bad for the environment and drive up the cost of life-saving drugs beyond what the poor can pay. So did it pass? No, it was voted down by Clinton’s delegates – though NJ Clinton delegate Steven Goldstein broke ranks and voted for it (cheers for that). The platform as passed contains nothing specific against the TPP. The debate was led by New Jersey delegate Cornel West. Watch (sound quality imperfect):