Bernie Sanders’ Message Is All Over Dem Platform Draft
After it became clear Bernie Sanders wasn’t going to be the Democratic nominee, he set his sights on reforming the platform. A new draft shows that he won that battle in many respects.
A draft Democratic Party’s new platform was unveiled online on Friday afternoon—and much of it looks like it was torn right out of a Bernie Sanders stump speech.
The draft copy—which the self-identifying socialist senator from Vermont has repeatedly said he would fight to make more progressive—included multiple sections that read significantly more liberal than the 2012 platform.
During the Democratic primary earlier this year, Sanders criticized presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton for favoring a $12 minimum wage.
Sanders appears to have won that battle.
“Democrats believe that the current minimum wage is a starvation wage and must be increased to a living wage,” the document reads, calling for a minimum wage of “at least $15 an hour.” (“Starvation wage” has been one of Sander’s preferred terms since at least 2013.)
“Democrats will fight to end institutional and systemic racism in our society,” it reads. “We will challenge and dismantle the structures that define lasting racial, economic, political, and social inequity … We will push for a societal transformation to make it clear that black lives matter and there is no place for racism in our country.”
That’s not all.
During the primary, Clinton and Sanders split on the issue of capital punishment, with Sanders emphatically advocating abolishment. “I just don't want to see government be part of killing, that's all,” he said at a Democratic debate in February.
Today, the Democratic Party—which four years ago was merely of the position that the “death penalty must not be arbitrary”—got on board.
“We will abolish the death penalty, which has proven to be a cruel and unusual form of punishment,” the 2016 platform states. “It has no place in the United States of America.”
There are several other sections that mirror the general positions of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing, to which lefty stalwarts like Elizabeth Warren and Sanders belong.
For instance, the Democrats now officially vow to “oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment,” which blocks the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortion barring extreme circumstances such as rape and incest. The 2016 platform is markedly more pro-choice than the 2012 platform, which did not call for repealing the amendment.
The latest platform also calls for (as Sanders has) reviving the Glass–Steagall Act, which President Bill Clinton helped scrap. (Hillary Clinton opposed doing so as recently as November.) The new document also gives awkward reference to the two Democratic candidates’ heated disagreements on international trade agreements.
“On the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), there are a diversity of views in the party,” it states. “Many Democrats are on record stating that the agreement does not meet the standards set out in this platform; other Democrats have expressed support for the agreement.”
Of course, much of the 2016 Democratic platform reads as if it were directly dictated by Team Hillary. For instance, in the section on Israel and Palestine, the draft specifically censures the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS), which Clinton has full-throatedly condemned. The platform bears zero indication that Sanders succeeded in his Quixotic mission to move the Democratic Party to the left on Israel/Palestine.
But with today’s platform, Team Bernie can pat itself on the back and walk away with some small, but conspicuous, progressive victories.
“This is precisely what the struggle over the Democratic Party platform is about,” Sanders said in a statement on Sunday. “We need to create a Democratic Party which fights for working families and not wealthy campaign contributors. I am glad that we have won some very important provisions in the platform drafting process so far, but much more needs to be done.”
—Alexa Corse contributed reporting.