Democrats Finalize Exceptionally Progressive Party Platform
Only opposition to the TPP did not make it into the platform.
By MARYALICE PARKS
July 10, 2016, 2:22 PM
• 4 min read
-- The Democratic Party is on track to ratify what is arguably its most progressive policy agenda in modern history, after the committee tasked with writing the platform document finished its final round of amendments and votes overnight.
The platform is expected to be formally adopted at the party’s national convention in Philadelphia at the end of the month.
While the document is nonbinding, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has been laser-focused on it since the primary season wrapped up and has kept some of his top staffers on board to fight for the inclusion of his ideas. The Sanders campaign views the platform as tangible evidence that his campaign's efforts moved the party to the left and they hope the document will excite their fans and serve as leverage for lobbying policy details in next Congress and administration.
The document -– a formal declaration of the party's positions -– includes language on breaking up "too-big-to fail" banks; reinstating a new version of the Glass-Steagall Act, which required that commercial banking and securities activities be separated; abolishing the death penalty; and fighting for a Constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizen's United case, which barred the government from restricting political spending by nonprofit corporations.
Representatives from the Sanders campaign were unable to secure enough votes to include language explicitly opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), despite the fact that presumptive Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton has also voiced her opposition to the White House’s proposed trade deal. Warren Gunnels, Sanders’ policy director, said his team was very "disappointed."
"This disastrous trade deal would make it easier for multi-national corporations to ship jobs overseas, harm the environment, undermine democracy and increase prescription drug prices for some of the most desperate people in the world," Gunnels said. "We will continue fighting to protect American jobs and to ensure Congress does not pass this disastrous trade agreement."
Democracy for America's Charles Chamberlain echoed his frustration.
"It's simply unacceptable for Democrats to release a party platform that refuses to explicitly take a stand against the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership after a party primary in which both major candidates opposed it," he said in a statement.
Progressives, however, did obtain major victories, including a $15/hr minimum wage, a price on carbon and decriminalization of marijuana.
"I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished tonight. This is the most aggressive plan to combat climate change in the history of the Democratic Party," Gunnels continued.
By a narrow vote of 81-80, the full committee voted Saturday in Orlando to include language encouraging the federal government to remove marijuana from its list as a Class 1 federally controlled substance and provide a "reasoned pathway for future legislation."
In addition, the committee passed an amendment Friday night that was introduced by Sanders' surrogate for Ohio state senator Nina Turner supporting a $15 per hour federal minimum wage.
"Raising the federal minimum wage sets the moral standard in this country that we, as Democrats, affirm over and over again that ensuring that we don't leave a sister or a brother behind is how we roll," Turner said.
Former NAACP president Ben Jealous introduced and successfully passed additional language on criminal justice reform stating that the party "will work with police chiefs to invest in training for officers on issues such as deescalation and the creation of national guidelines for the appropriate use of force." The document now also encourages the use of body cameras, the end of racial profiling, and the Department of Justice to investigate all questionable or suspicious police-involved shootings.