Sunday, June 5, 2016

DNC Lets Bernie Put His Stamp on Platform Committee

Bernie Sanders. (photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
Bernie Sanders. (photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News
“We believe that we will have the representation on the platform drafting committee to create a Democratic platform that reflects the views of millions of our supporters who want the party to address the needs of working families in this country and not just Wall Street, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry and other powerful special interests.”
– Sen. Bernie Sanders

n an unprecedented move, the Democratic National Committee has allowed Bernie Sanders to appoint 5 of the 15 members of the platform committee. Hillary Clinton appointed 6 and the DNC appointed 4. Under the rules, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz could have appointed all 15. Some of you are probably adding the 4 DNC appointments to the 6 Clinton appointees and saying, “Where is the victory?”

This is the most progressive platform committee I have seen in my years of organizing for or covering conventions. I remember in 2000 when I worked in Los Angeles for Bill Bradley’s campaign. We put together a group of Los Angeles delegates that included Gloria Allred and Tom Hayden. They went to a platform committee in Cleveland and couldn’t even get the votes to get any of their planks considered by the committee. It was a committee full of corporate reps who liked the Democratic Leadership Council’s centrist planks.

This committee is diverse and a lot more progressive. Sanders appointed civil rights activist and professor Dr. Cornel West and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who is co-chair of the Progressive Caucus and is one of only two Muslim members of Congress.

Sanders also appointed Deborah Parker, vice chair of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington State, Dr. James Zogby, head of the Arab-American Institute, and founder Bill McKibben.

Okay, I hear you, that’s only 5 votes, but Debbie Wasserman Schultz appointed Rep. Elijah Cummings to chair the committee, and Rep. Barbara Lee to serve on the committee. Lee was the only member of the house to vote against the 9/11 resolution that authorized the war in Afghanistan.

The Clinton campaign chose Wendy Sherman, a former top State Department official, Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Carol Browner, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio state representative Alicia Reece; and Paul Booth of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

Wasserman Schultz also named former congressman Howard Berman and executive Bonnie Schaefer.

All in all, the votes are there for a progressive platform.

All of this is a step forward, but only a step. More important will be the makeup of the rules committee. That is the committee where structural changes to the party’s nominating process can take place. I don’t expect the DNC to be as kind when forming that committee. While the makeup of the platform committee showed a warming up to Sanders and his delegates, other developments this week were not unifying.

This weekend Sanders told Jake Tapper that he was endorsing Tim Canova, who is challenging Debbie Wasserman Shultz in her primary race. The campaign then sent out a fundraising email for Canova, who has already raised over a million dollars in his challenge of the DNC chairwoman. Sanders said in his Sunday interview that he would not reappoint Schultz if he becomes the party’s nominee.

Progress has been made in unifying the party. Let Bernie have a voice on the rules committee and we will be a lot closer to unity.

Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador's slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush's first stolen election. Scott will be spending a year covering the presidential election from Iowa.

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