Politics: Bernie speaks out for Hillary

by Bernie Sanders for the L.A. Times

In the primaries, I received 1,846 pledged delegates, 46% of the total. Hillary Clinton received 2,205 pledged delegates, 54%. She received 602 superdelegates. I received 48 superdelegates. Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and I will vigorously support her.

Donald Trump would be a disaster and an embarrassment for our country if he were elected president. His campaign is not based on anything of substance — improving the economy, our education system, healthcare or the environment. It is based on bigotry. He is attempting to win this election by fomenting hatred against Mexicans and Muslims. He has crudely insulted women. And as a leader of the “birther movement,” he tried to undermine the legitimacy of our first African American president. That is not just my point of view. That’s the perspective of a number of conservative Republicans.

In these difficult times, we need a president who will bring our nation together, not someone who will divide us by race or religion, not someone who lacks an understanding of what our Constitution is about.

On virtually every major issue facing this country and the needs of working families, Clinton’s positions are far superior to Trump’s. Our campaigns worked together to produce the most progressive platform in the history of American politics. Trump’s campaign wrote one of the most reactionary documents.

Clinton understands that Citizens United has undermined our democracy. She will nominate justices who are prepared to overturn that Supreme Court decision, which made it possible for billionaires to buy elections. Her court appointees also would protect a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, the rights of the LGBT community, the needs of minorities and immigrants and the government’s ability to protect the environment.

Trump, on the other hand, has made it clear that his Supreme Court appointees would preserve the court’s right-wing majority.

Clinton understands that in a competitive global economy we need the best-educated workforce in the world. She and I worked together on a proposal that will revolutionize higher education in America. It will guarantee that the children of any family in this country with an annual income of $125,000 a year or less – 83% of our population – will be able to go to a public college or university tuition free. This proposal also substantially reduces student debt.

Trump, on the other hand, has barely said a word about higher education.

Clinton understands that at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, it is absurd to provide huge tax breaks to the very rich.

Trump, on the other hand, wants billionaire families like his to enjoy hundreds of billions of dollars in new tax breaks.

Clinton understands that climate change is real, is caused by human activity and is one of the great environmental crises facing our planet. She knows that we must transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and move aggressively to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.

Trump, on the other hand, like most Republicans, rejects science and the conclusions of almost all major researchers in the field. He believes that climate change is a “hoax,” and that there’s no need to address it.

Clinton understands that this country must move toward universal healthcare. She wants to see that all Americans have the right to choose a public option in their healthcare exchange, that anyone 55 or older should be able to opt in to Medicare, and that we must greatly improve primary healthcare through a major expansion of community health centers. She also wants to lower the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs.

And what is Donald Trump’s position on healthcare? He wants to abolish the Affordable Care Act, throw 20 million people off the health insurance they currently have and cut Medicaid for lower-income Americans.

During the primaries, my supporters and I began a political revolution to transform America. That revolution continues as Hillary Clinton seeks the White House. It will continue after the election. It will continue until we create a government which represents all of us and not just the 1 percent – a government based on the principle of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.

I understand that many of my supporters are disappointed by the final results of the nominating process, but being despondent and inactive is not going to improve anything. Going forward and continuing the struggle is what matters. And, in that struggle, the most immediate task we face is to defeat Donald Trump



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.

Politics: Democrats elated over new platform

by Judy Ferro

They clapped, they cheered, they stomped, and then they clapped some more!

Democrats were elated when the final draft of their 2016 platform was presented, and they showed it.

Looking back after a week, I realize that the cheers wouldn’t have been so enthusiastic if forging the platform had presented no difficulties. People had spoken passionately, willing to go to the mat for the principles they supported, and the platform committee had taken each one seriously. Working long into the night, the members created a platform that Idaho Democrats can stand behind.

More than half those voting at the Idaho Democratic Convention in Boise June 16 to 18 had never taken part in a convention before. The groups was a mixture of delegates elected by caucus goers in March, officers of county and legislative districts elected by precinct captains in May, and elected legislators and county officials. Many had more than one credential. One-third of them—204 out of 306—were supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders.

The newcomers ranged in age from a handful of 18-year-olds to one feisty 90-year-old from Bonners Ferry. Some been active in politics for years. A few had previously scorned affiliating with a party. Others had just not paid attention until this year’s heated presidential campaigns. The procedures and rules—even Robert’s Rules of Order—were confusing to some. Just how does a resolution differ from a plank? Why is discussion in order before some votes and not others?

Saturday, convention goers got to know one many of their cohorts. During the morning, candidates to be delegates to the national convention gave stump speeches—this is who I am and what I’m fighting for. Women campaigning for legislative and Congressional seats got their turn at a Women’s Caucus luncheon. Then, when a credentials question halted business temporarily, it was open mike time. Among those we heard from was a Viet Nam vet angry over Republican attempts to cut veteran assistance, a woman who walked away from politics after protesting in Chicago in 1968, and a retired professor who is fighting for a bill to make corporations pay taxes where they make their sales, not to some island in the Pacific.

Resolutions passed requesting Central Committee action to start a Native American caucus and to seek out a presidential nominating process “at least as inclusive” as a primary election. Another asked Congress to pass specific items of Sanders’ platform including voter suppression and implementing single-payer health care.

Only delegates elected in March could vote for delegates to the national convention. The numbers were based on attendance at the March caucuses—18 for Bernie and 5 for Hillary. Chelsea Gaona-Lincoln of Caldwell, chair of the Canyon County Democrats, was among the Bernie delegates elected. Evangeline Beechler—a newcomer to Caldwell and first Vice Chair for the Idaho Democrats—is one of the state’s four superdelegates.

Jerry Shriner of Coeur d’Alene and Susan Eastlake of Boise were elected to the Democrat National Committee.

Adoption of the platform, however, was the high point of the convention. Emotions ran high as the initial reading was interrupted by applause more and more as it progressed. Attendees flocked to microphones afterward to state that the document was “eloquent and thorough,” “perfect,” and “a platform we can embrace.” One delegate said, “Never forget this day—we will make a difference.”

(The reading can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByUqe194er0; the text, at http://idahodems.org/news.)


Democrats: Sanders stays in the race

by Judy Ferro

Bernie Sanders won 22 state primaries and caucuses with over 11 million votes. It’s a major accomplishment. Yet, with only 20 more delegates to be allotted, he has 1816 pledged delegates to Hillary Clinton’s 2197. Also, 75% of the 751 superdelegates have declared for Clinton.

Ironically, those superdelegates that have been an obstacle to Sanders’ nomination are now making it possible for him to remain in the race. They are not pledged and can change their minds at any time so there is a slimmest of slim chances that Sanders could still be nominated.

Still, a Sanders victory seems so impossible that few would have surprised if he’d pulled out after Clinton’s California victory last Tuesday. He didn’t—and people are puzzling why.

Some say his ego won’t let him quit. The fact that the man waited until he was 73 to make a presidential bid makes that implausible, but not impossible; audiences of 10,000 and more may change a man.

Some—mainly FOX viewers—say Sanders persists in case Clinton is indicted for not telling President Obama about her e-mail server. I’m betting that Sanders—like most Democrats—doesn’t pay attention to the smokescreens that Republicans spew. It’d be more likely that Clinton asked Sanders to stay in so the media pays some attention to the Democratic race rather than giving Donald Trump all the headlines.

Certainly, Sanders is seeking concessions from Clinton. Maybe he wants to name the vice president or have Clinton pledge to work for a Wall Street tax or free junior college. His 11 million supporters give him leverage, and Sanders won’t waste it.

I’m betting that the convention itself is a reason Sanders is still in the race. His delegates will get to meet him and to cast their votes. Just as important, he will be able to address voters across the nation in his concession speech.

Education is a major part of Sanders’ mission. He wants people to know they do not have to accept business as usual, but that, acting together, they can change the system. His non-concession speech rang with the message which 78% of Idahoans who attended Democratic caucuses supported.

“The vast majority of the American people know that it is not acceptable that the top tenth of 1 percent owns as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent; we’re going to change that. When millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, we will not allow 57 percent of all new income to go to the top 1 percent. We will end a corrupt campaign finance system.

“Democracy is not about billionaires buying elections. We will end a broken criminal justice system. We will break up the major banks on Wall Street. We will join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all people as a right. We will bring about real immigration reform and a path toward citizenship. We will tell the billionaire class and corporate America that they will start paying their fair share of taxes…

“Whether Wall Street likes it, whether corporate America likes it, whether wealthy campaign contributors like it, whether the corporate media likes it, together we know what our job is. It is to bring the American people together to create a government that works for us, not the 1 percent.”

Will Sanders then declare himself a third-party candidate? Not likely. He doesn’t want to throw the election to Trump. Yet, at 74, it is unlikely that he will be a nominee in the future. Sanders has lit a torch that others must carry.

Politics: Outsiders threaten party administrators

by Judy Ferro

One of the lessons of the elections of 2016 is that U.S. parties have little control over who runs for office under their banner.

Not that the parties haven’t been struggling with this at the state level for years. Republican fear that RINOs (Republicans-in-Name-Only) might take over their party has led to Idaho reinstituting registration by party and a closed Republican primary.

Democrats have recently developed a problem with Candidates-by-FAX-Only. Shizandra Fox, a dietary counselor from Sonoma, CA, filed as a candidate for the U.S. House Seat. Perhaps she was inspired by the Brooklyn attorney who filed for an Idaho U.S. Senate seat in 2014.

We’re seeing something different on the national scene this year though—outsider candidates gaining massive support.

For a year now, America has waited to see how the Republican Party would deal with a Donald Trump candidacy. Would they actually nominate a man who has threatened Mexicans, Moslems, and the media? Who relates to women only as sexual objects? Who promises to violate the U.S. Constitution?

Well, yes, they must—or appear at war with their own voters. Leaders who’ve said that Trump is rotten to the core are now urging people to vote for him.

Some are assuring voters that Trump will fly right now he’s sure of nomination—as though it’s an accepted practice for Republican candidates to say one thing before the primary and another after. Trump’s speech on foreign policy, however, suggests he can’t do it—he managed to support both sides of three different issues, apparently without recognizing the incongruities.

And there is no doubt this solution is hurting Republicans. An AP poll indicates that 67 percent of Americans view the GOP negatively—that’s even higher than Trump’s negative ratings.

Democrats, in contrast, have been smugly proud that they have two great candidates—Clinton and Sanders–who can politely discuss the complicated trade agreements and global warming. Sure, Bernie fans have criticized media and party official bias, but the candidates themselves have been presidential, each recognizing that the nominee would need the support of the other’s base.

So what happened in Nevada?

It’s amazing to think that the Nevada Democratic Party planned to gather 3,500 political activists in one room for eight hours running—it actually extended to 12—and keep control by giving dictatorial powers to the party chair. (We know Rebecca Lange had dictatorial powers because she announced them prior to a number of biased decisions.)

Two of the major conflicts developed early. One, Lange moved to give Clinton three more delegate by changing the basis for allotment from the county conventions, which Sanders had dominated, to the precinct caucuses. Two, the credentials committee guaranteed her two additional delegates by barring 58 Bernie supporters from taking part without allowing them to defend their status. A move which the committee co-chair said violated “the spirit and values of our state and our nation.”

Then one reporter—who’d left the convention early—took seriously a fellow reporters claim that violence had erupted and chairs been thrown.

The media jumped all over his report. Video shows one man raised a chair, was stopped by friends, put it down and hugged one of those who stopped him.

National media choose to show only the frame with the chair in the air. They cannot, however, cite a police report or interview a victim, except for Lange who had indeed been “verbally abused.”

Five extra votes for Clinton.

And the Democrats job of uniting the party under one candidate just got harder.