Politics: Big differences in party platforms

by Judy Ferro

Rumor is that the draft of the Republican National Platform now runs 33,000 words—about 300 pages or five times the length of the 2012 platform.   Is it possible?

I don’t know, but I have to chuckle thinking of the Republican Convention in Cleveland going quiet Tuesday as delegates struggle to read this important document before voting on it. Of course, unless they are all extremely fast readers, the quiet could carry into Wednesday. Imagine TV commentators trying to fill the dead air space as delegates hole up to read each and every page.

Equally amusing is thinking of the questions reporters may now direct at candidates.

“Do you see any difficulties arising from abolishing the Internal Revenue Service?”

“Do you support the position that food stamps are unconstitutional?”

“Do you know of any studies supporting the claim that coal is ‘clean” energy comparable to wind and hydroelectric power?”

Of course, candidates who have glib arguments for entrusting our social security funds to Wall Street can answer about anything. Expect to hear more about the Bible as a text in American history, overturning the Supreme Court ruling allowing gay marriage, ceding national forest land to the states, and building a wall across the Mexican border.

The draft that the Democratic National Platform Committee debated in Orlando this month started at 35 pages. Although some amendments were added, even moderately motivated delegates will be able to read it before they vote.

The question most commentators have addressed is how much Bernie Sanders influenced this platform. I have it from good authority that the answer is “enough.”

Nampan Jeff Hess was appointed Idaho’s delegate to the National Platform Committee. Although he is a newcomer to party activism, he was a logical choice. As a member of the state party’s platform committee, he demonstrated that he had faith that compromise was possible and the perseverance to work until it was achieved. Moreover, he was elected as a Clinton delegate to the National Convention in Philadelphia—a highly competitive honor since 80% of Idaho’s elected delegate positions went to Sanders’ supporters.

Hess represented Idaho Democrats well and managed to get two amendments concerning clean energy added to the platform. He observed, “In Orlando…most of the hot-button issues were skillfully negotiated between the two campaigns so there was not a lot of disagreement. However, there were a few issues that the HRC (Clinton) camp believed were too important for any more negotiations.

“This certainly disappointed a small minority of Bernie folks, but most understood that when you have the most votes, you win.”

Hess concluded, “And, from my upfront, literally front row, seat it was clear that Bernie and Hillary were working hand and glove together…contrary to what anyone may hear.”

Sanders himself has worked to make his approval of the platform clear. Not only did he endorse Clinton at a rally the next day, he emailed supporters a list of issues he was happy to see in the platform including, among others, a higher minimum wage (plank one), immigration reform, and the end of for-profit prisons and offshore tax havens.

During an interview on Democracy Now! Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison said Sanders’ delegates failed to get all-out opposition to fracking and TPP (Trans-Pacific Pact on trade) and endorsement of Medicare for All and a two-state policy for Israel and Palestine.

I’m willing to say that the Sanders’ supporters who do not now join him in backing Clinton act out of dislike for her rather than disappointment with her platform. Yet, Hillary’s choice of a running mate may yet gain their support.