Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 6:42 am | Fair 38º


Letter to the Editor: Democratic National Committee Struggles to Find Party’s Soul

Members of the Democratic National Committee are now in the throes of intense debate to determine what promises their presidential candidate will make to the American people as she asks for their vote.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, though having failed to gain the Democratic Party nomination, nevertheless achieved such widespread enthusiasm and support, especially among the young and better-educated, that Hillary Clinton supporters, recognizing the party's need to keep these potential voters on board, have allowed a number of Sanders supporters to become part of the DNC.

Sanders is using what party influence he may have – the result of his primary showing - to achieve as much of his economic, social and political agendas as he can in the final version of the Democratic Party platform.

It's well known that these party “promises” have no legal standing; that the presidential candidate supposedly espousing them may, if elected, pursue or ignore them, either without mention or, possibly, citing “present circumstances.”

Even with this in mind, it's informative to view the current state of DNC determinations and to see where pressure is being applied and to what effect.

Sanders has always advocated a federal minimum wage of $15/hour; Clinton had given support only to $12/hour. The DNC has declared support for a minimum federal wage of $15/hour “over time.”

One of the bitterest disputes in the DNC has focused on the party's stance toward the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Hillary Clinton, who once had supported her husband's similar National Free Trade Agreement, then danced around specific stand on the TPP, has more recently declared opposition to TPP. But her supporters in the DNC have helped gut any specific party opposition to it.

“This is a concern that Sanders and others have raised since the United Kingdom voted in June to exit the European Union, following a campaign that saw right-wing forces exploit economic fears to their advantage.

“'In this pivotal moment, the Democratic Party and a new Democratic president need to make clear that we stand with those who are struggling and who have been left behind,' Sanders has argued. 'We must create national and global economies that work for all, and not a handful of billionaires.'

“TPP critics such as Carli Stevenson, a Sanders supporter from Indiana, put their call in practical terms. 'We all have to go home tomorrow and face our neighbors and tell them what we did to protect their jobs,' explained Stevenson. 'The best way to do that, and to leave no doubt, is to say that the Democratic Party opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership.'”

To a somewhat vague amendment calling for protections for American jobs, including, possibly, the TPP. [NAACP President Ben]“Jealous offered an amendment to the amendment. 'I just want to add the words: “That’s why we oppose the TPP .”

“'We need to leave no doubt that Democrats stand up for working men and women in this country,' declared [Ohio state Senator Nina] Turner, when she spoke for the Jealous amendment. 'Leave no doubt that we are against the TPP .'

“Sanders backers chanted, 'Leave no doubt!' But the Jealous amendment lost on a 106-74 vote.” (thenation.com, July 10, 2016)

William Smithers
Santa Barbara

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