Friday 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.
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.
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.
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.