This Bernie Sanders Platform Committee Member Believes The DNC Isn't Living Up To Its Promises
In what may have been effort to assuage Sen. Bernie Sanders and his supporters, the Democratic Party overhauled how it selects its platform committee in 2016. The 15-member committee, which will be responsible for drafting the official party platform which will be voted on at the convention in July, is normally comprised of delegates selected by the Democratic National Committee chair (currently Debbie Wasserman Schultz). But this year, Sec. Hillary Clinton selected six members, Sanders picked five, and Wasserman Schultz chose four. One of Sanders' picks for the platform committee, Bill McKibben, gave an update on how the process is going. So far, it's not looking so great for Sanders and his supporters.
As the party's presidential nomination more and more clearly slipped away from Sanders, he began shifting his focus to the platform. He was hopeful that his delegates on the committee could push for substantial progressive positions, fundamentally changing the party to better suit the views of his supporters. McKibben, an environmentalist activist and author, is hoping to help accomplish this goal, but he and Sanders' other delegates are facing resistance from the rest of the committee.
McKibben's article in Politico sums up his frustration:
The Clinton campaign was ready to acknowledge serious problems: We need fair trade policy, inequality is a horrible problem, and unchecked climate change will wreck the planet. But when it came to specific policy changes, they often balked.
The article gives a window into how the committee has voted so far. They voted down amendments brought by Sanders' delegates to get Medicare for all and a firm position against the Trans-Pacific Partnership on the platform. A host of climate change proposals, including a fracking ban and carbon tax, were voted down seven to six.
Though Sanders' delegates on the committee are clearly frustrated, McKibben did note some victories. The platform now firmly opposes the death penalty, contains detailed language on Native American rights, and supports more bike paths. But these few advances fall quite short of Sanders' central goals of making the $15 minimum wage, single-payer health care, and other progressive reforms part of the platform. But McKibben remains hopeful, noting that the committee will debate again in Orlando before the convention in Philadelphia, where all delegates will weigh in on the platform.
Whether the party adopts some of Sanders' proposals will in large part determine to what extent his candidacy has made an impact on the party going forward. So far, it doesn't look like they're going to budge much. What this would mean for Sanders' supporters' willingness to stay engaged with the party will be the big question.