A Message to Us All: 2016 Democratic Party Platform

2016 Democratic Party PlatformFriday brought exciting news! The 2016 Democratic Party Platform (PDF) was released to the collective yawn of everyone not obsessed with these kinds of things. So naturally, Frank told me to write about it because “it would be interesting.” The wreckage of my eyes due to the draft watermark was a special bonus just for me.

There has been quite a bit of ranting in the press over the supposed two sides (Clinton and Sanders) and the disagreements on various parts of the platform. But I don’t want to get into those kinds of fights on this blog as it is an oasis of calm compared to the rest of the internet. So I will just go over the highlights of the document.

Issue Number One: Economics

The primacy of economics is crystal clear in the 2016 Democratic Party Platform. The first two sections (after the standard preamble, “this is who we are” opening) were dedicated to economics. Although even that understates its importance, because the following two sections are also primarily interested in economics.

The section on the minimum wage and unions was artfully done, in my opinion. It blended the need for people to make a better wage ($15 an hour) with the right to organize and collectively bargain. These two issues alone would fix many of the biggest problems we face.

Economic Fairness

After dealing with improving the economy and creating good jobs, the platform transitions into issues of economic fairness. These often ignored issues greatly impact women and their families. They include: lack of equal pay, paid leave, and proper wages for caregivers. This is actually a big deal.

Unfortunately it did not include specific language that covers what is needed to achieve equal pay: transparency in wages. This, along with vigorous backing of those who bring up pay disparities, is crucial. It is a very real and important issue.

I like that paid leave has become a major issue. And just as important is the treatment of caregivers. They need to be rewarded in the one way we seem to use to measure respect in this country: more money. If you don’t like income inequality, this is one of the ways to fight it.

Wall Street and Trade

The Democratic Party Platform includes a lot of details on how to reign in Wall Street. But it is clearly a very careful effort to balance the divergent views on how to handle the problem that is Wall Street.

And that isn’t the only place that acknowledges that there are some major disagreements on policy. Trade policy is another. The TPP is mention only once and very carefully. The word is that Obama didn’t want the platform to come out against it. It is important to acknowledge dissenters even if their exact wording isn’t adopted.

Social Security

There is language to strengthen Social Security. It discusses making high income earners pay more, but it doesn’t seem to be referring to the payroll tax cap. Instead, it states, “And we will make sure Social Security’s guaranteed benefits continue for generations to come by asking those at the top to pay more, and will achieve this goal by taxing some of the income of people above $250,000.” (The current cap on payroll taxes is less than half of that.) I give it a pass, however, since I think that is something that needs to be legislatively worked out and they do mention making the wealthy pay more.

What’s most interesting about this section of the Democratic Party Platform is how clear it is about maintaining Social Security. When Republicans talk about making the program stronger, they almost always mean that they want to cut benefits. They don’t put it that way. They say they want to cut cost-of-living adjustments. The Democrats explicitly say no. The Republicans want to raise the retirement age. The Democrats explicitly say no. Most important, the Democrats explicitly say that strengthening Social Security requires investing in it — not cutting it until it is a useless program.


Since 2006, the Republicans have been on a mission to kill the Constitutionally mandated US Postal Service. So it was very nice to see that the Democratic Party Platform included proposed language to turn a portion of the USPS into a community bank.

The platform has multiple planks detailing how to improve and repair our current failing infrastructure. It calls for a “major federal jobs program” to address this problem. It also calls for a “national infrastructure bank” to pay for “critical infrastructure improvements.” These are exceptionally good ideas.

Death Penalty

For the first time (as far as I can tell) the Democratic Party Platform staunchly opposes the death penalty. The last platform barely mentioned criminal justice and didn’t say much other than more care should be taken for the imposition of the death penalty. This is a pretty big deal since it is stating something that a lot of the members have believed for a long time.

Final Thoughts on the 2016 Democratic Party Platform

One thing I noticed early on is that it entirely ignores the Republican Party. Usually these things are filled with language like, “And this is how we are different from our main opponents.” This time, it only mentions Donald Trump as if the Republicans are completely irrelevant. Considering the current mess of the party? That might be true.

The Democratic Party Platform is long — almost 40 pages. Almost every issue that Democrats care about is addressed in it. As a result, I haven’t gone over every detail and make this long post even longer. But it’s worth reading in whole — or at least skimming for issues you care about. And enjoy the fact that no matter what, it will be better than Trump’s the Republican’s.

9 thoughts on “A Message to Us All: 2016 Democratic Party Platform

  1. That water mark IS annoying — that for soldiering through it!

    It was interesting because I’d never read a “party platform” (or any candidate’s “position papers”) before. It’s a nice balancing act between different viewpoints. Unlike the GOP, Dems aren’t united on single-issue fixes (like “tort reform” or “tax relief.”) We agree on goals, and disagree on methods, so respecting all sides is a harder trick.

    The interesting thing about increasing support for “caregivers” is that could mean several things. I won’t go into the gruesome details, but there’s different sources of funding for every situation. If your husband is ailing and you have to take more time off work to help him, you ain’t paid nothin’. If he can qualify as “permanently disabled” you CAN get paid as a “personal care assistant,” but the amount depends on where you live (and it’s low everywhere.) Same thing with in-home nursing care, funding for workers in nursing homes, etc., etc. Throw in (largely) crooked companies coordinating many of these services, and it’s an unholy garble.

    But that’s the difficulty with actually caring about outcomes, isn’t it? Many problems are insanely complex. I really liked that “Medicare for all” and the “public option” are in here. Killing health insurance companies isn’t complex! (It’s complex to do politically, but it’s a no-brainer idea.) And I’ve long loved the idea of running a postal bank, although alas some Democrats (I think Warren was one) have talked about subcontracting this to financial companies. No, no, no! It should be government-run, and have as its goal putting payday loan centers out of business forever.

    Anyhoo. Thanks for making us read this thing! It was fun to browse …

    • I disagree that ending health insurance companies isn’t complex. For one thing you would throw over five hundred thousand people out of work immediately. There would need to be massive information campaigns (which considering how hard it was to get people to realise that the US was switching to digital from analog in 2009…), a lot of effort to work with the hospitals and other orgs that require a change in billing, and a lot of discussion of what will be covered and won’t be. Abortion is just the start.

      Anyway, I like the platform, I think it is broad enough to represent all of the people in the giant tent.

      • That’s what I meant! Is single-payer better than private insurance? Yes, obviously. That’s not complex. How would we get there, implement it, etc? Insanely complex.

        That TV switch is a good example. That was very difficult for many to grasp.

        • That one had people criticizing the Bush and Obama Administrations but honestly, they did their best-sent mail to households, told the press, had commercials. Don’t know what else they could have done except maybe chased people down and sat on them until they said “OKAY I GET IT NOW.”

          • I still have one of the digital converters you could get with a government gift certificate. It was a well-publicized program, and it STILL gave people fits. I imagine a lot of people had lived with TV for so long, they couldn’t imagine not being able to get a signal anymore.

            What irritates me is that cell-phone companies want ALL broadcast TV killed. They want the bandwidth for themselves. Which is why we did the conversion in the fIrst place, to give them more bandwidth. I guess no part of the airwaves can belong to the public. Shit, if corporations get their way, nothing will belong to the public. But, the plus side will be, rich people in the future will be able to use their phones to mail-order (from UPS) Authentic Redwood National Park hand-crafted coffee tables …

            • Cynic.

              I kid but you know that is why this election is important-if we can take back the Senate and the House (and Frank publishes those articles I have written), some strong protections can be put into place.

              • After our planet has been obliterated into a lifeless moonscape, alien archaeologists will try and piece together “what happened?” They will scan our records of digital transmissions sent into the aether via our cellphones and routers.

                They will find this subthread, and determine, “the turning point in Earth’s history was that lazy bastard Moraes not publishing Elizabeth’s posts in time to avert catastrophe.” His name will be vilified throughout a million galaxies as synonymous with “moron who doesn’t care and screwed everything up for everyone.”

                Seriously, thanks for trying to inject a dose of anti-cynicism into those of us you interact with online. Am I pretty convinced the human species is doomed for extinction? Pretty much, yeah, if I was betting, I’d give it 20/80 odds against. But does that mean we stop trying! Hell no. You don’t abandon a cancer patient because they’re incurable; you try to reduce their pain. And for all the horrible are species has done and will continue to do, it has the capacity for empathy, and we need to focus one reducing what pain we can.

  2. While getting the USPS into banking is a great idea, to save the USPS don’t we really need to repeal the requirement that it fund, now, the health benefits of retirees 75 years into the future (or whatever the details are)? Has any attempt ever been made to repeal that Republican travesty?

    • Clearly, that is the big issue right now. And it’s interesting that the GOP did it in the 2006 lame duck session — something they are totally against when the Democrats do it. Let’s be clear: this is all about FedEx and UPS wanting to take all of the USPS’ most valuable routes while leaving it with the Constitutional mandate to deliver mail to Death Valley. It also shows just how dedicated the Republican establishment is to the Constitution.

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