Whose Party? Whose Platform? Progressives Seek to Influence DNC

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Democrats are meeting in Washington, D.C. this week for a potential “tug of war” between establishment and progressive factions of the party.

Ahead of the national convention in July, the Democratic Party’s platform drafting committee gathered Wednesday and Thursday in the nation’s capital for the first in a series of regional hearings “designed to engage every voice in the Party.”

The panel will consider testimony on a number of key issues including raising the minimum wage, so-called “free-trade” deals, foreign policy, and banking reform.

As the committee includes a slew of Bernie Sanders-supporting progressives as well as “influence peddlers” selected by Hillary Clinton and Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, it remains to be seen if the platform will reflect the revolutionary ideals embodied by the Sanders campaign, or the status quo embraced by the establishment.

Watch a live-stream below:

Common Dreams reported Wednesday on demands that the party’s 2016 platform include a nationwide ban on fracking. Low-wage workers also rallied outside the committee meeting on Wednesday, calling for members to write support for a $15 minimum wage into the platform.

Isaiah Poole of the Campaign for America’s Future reported:

Economic Policy Institute (EPI) president Larry Mishel spoke before the committee on Thursday morning, arguing that to boost Americans’ wages, “policymakers must intentionally tilt bargaining power back toward low- and moderate-wage workers,” as per EPI’s Raising America’s Pay initiative. 

Among the other voices testifying before the drafting committee on Thursday: Nancy Altman of Social Security Works; Lori Wallach of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch; Joseph Cirincione of Ploughshares Fund; Sandra Springer, a teacher represented by the American Federation of Teachers; and Michael Smith, a recently laid-off Nabisco worker form BCTGM Local 300.

According to CNN, other “platform fights” to watch in the lead-up to the national convention in July include:

  • Citing Clinton’s remarks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual conference in March, CNN says “America’s relationship with Israel is likely to be the nastiest fight in Philadelphia.”
  • As CNN notes, “the platform approved at the 2012 convention calls for ‘free and fair trade’—with a focus on spurring exports while maintaining human rights, environmental and other protections. The key question will be whether the party drops the ‘free’ from its platform.”
  • “Both candidates support keeping a tight rein on Wall Street,” CNN reports, “but Sanders and his supporters have been much starker in their language. Like many of the battles, this one is not a question of ‘Where does the party go?’ but instead, ‘How far?'”
  • “Universal health care was a consolation prize Clinton won from Obama in 2008, with his promise to make it a centerpiece of the 2008 platform and push for it,” CNN explains. “But now Clinton is on the other side of that equation, with Sanders and his supporters pushing for the more expansive health care coverage and Clinton defending the new status quo.”

In its own write-up of the drafting committee meeting, the Huffington Post reports:

Indeed, Zogby himself wrote in a blog post this week:

The next public forum takes place next week in Phoenix, followed by a drafting meeting in St. Louis and the full committee’s adoption of platform planks in Orlando, Fla., just ahead of the July 25-28 nominating convention in Philadelphia. 

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports: “The Orlando session will be the first meeting of the full 187-member committee whose members are selected by state parties from among convention delegates, and full committee meetings can sometimes be contentious.”

And the evolution of the party platform could inform how the primary race itself takes shape. As former NAACP president and Sanders supporter Ben Jealous told the Huffington Post on Wednesday: “[Sanders] should stay in until he gets everything he’s fighting for, or at least as much of it as possible.”

Submit your own written or video testimony by June 18 here; follow the meetings on Twitter under the hashtag #DemPlatform:

#DemPlatform Tweets

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