Clinton Forces Dominate DNC Platform, Demolishing Key Sanders Issues
The Democratic party platform will not oppose the TPP, ban fracking, call for the end to the illegal Israeli settlements and occupation of Palestinian land, or tie a $15 minimum wage to inflation – positions advocated by the Bernie Sanders delegates.
“Bernie Sanders has in fact painted himself into a spot that leaves very little room for him to move,” said Glen Ford, executive editor of the Black Agenda Report. “And he painted himself into that corner at the beginning of the race when he said that he would support the nominee. If he’s going to support the nominee, well, what kind of shape does that take? He will support the nominee unless he doesn’t like the platform? No, he didn’t equivocate on that. And that’s why I say that the Hillary people are calling his bluff. If he hews to his commitment to support her come what may, well, we know what’s coming: a platform like this, a corporate kind of campaign.”
Ford said the Bernie delegates can now make a critical choice: support the Clinton campaign, or head down the road of independent politics.
“They can legitimize that kind of hoodwinking of the people, these progressives wolfs in progressive clothing. Or they can do the really hard work which must be done, which demands to be done, and that is the creation of a party that actually does represent the values and political positions that these millions of folks have fought for. Either create a new party out of scratch, and it would be a social democratic party, or build on an already existing social democratic party, which is the Green Party,” said Ford.
SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: It’s The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore. And welcome to this edition of the Glen Ford report.
According to many reports on Monday, DNC Platform Committee more or less disregarded Senator Sanders’ policy positions on a number of fronts.
On to talk about this with me is Glen Ford.
Glen, thank you for joining us.
GLEN FORD, EXEC. EDITOR, BLACK AGENDA REPORT: Thanks for the opportunity.
PERIES: So, Glen, in terms of the Black Agenda Report, where you are the executive editor, what are the concerns you have the most about what they disregarded in terms of Sanders’ position on the platform committee?
FORD: Well, we’re not Bernieites at the Black Agenda Report. We do analysis and commentary. But what we see happening here is the Clinton forces pushing the Sanders forces up against the wall. Hillary Clinton’s surrogates on that platform committee that met last weekend in St. Louis, they produced a document that leaves plenty of room for Hillary Clinton to run a campaign without offending, oh, jobs-exporting corporations or bankers or energy companies or profiteers for the health industries or the Israel lobby. None of these folks have anything to worry about from the Democratic Party, at least from their platform.
Bernie Sanders has put all of his marbles–all the marbles that he has left–into the fight over this party platform document. But Clinton is apparently unwilling to run on a document that would interfere with her old tried-and-true triangulating ways, even if that platform is nonbinding. She wants a platform that makes her comfortable in her style of centrist campaigning.
So she instructed her people to block language, for example, that called on the Democratic Party to prevent President Obama’s TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) so-called trade bill from coming up for a vote in the Congress. Clinton also claims that she’s not for TPP, but of course nobody believes her, and now people will believe her even less, because the people who work for her have shot down that party platform plank. The committee voted down Minneapolis black congressman Keith Ellison’s anti-TPP plank on the grounds that it would embarrass President Obama. So it seems that for the Democrats it is more important not to embarrass President Obama than it is to protect millions of American jobs.
Clinton’s people also shot down a proposal to back single-payer health care through Medicare-for-all. Late last year, if you remember, Hillary Clinton said that single-payer would never, ever, ever happen in the United States, and now her people on the platform committee are doing their bit to make sure that that’s true.
Environmentalist Bill McKibben, he introduced an idea for a ban on fracking and a moratorium on drilling for new oil and gas on federal land and federal-controlled water, but Clinton’s people opted for more fracking and more drilling.
Arab-American democratic activist James Zogby–he’s a Sanders delegate–he asked for some very simple language that would have called for the end to illegal Israeli settlements and occupation of Palestinian land. And that in fact is the official policy of the United States, and it has been the position of the United Nations for many decades. But the Democrats don’t want to offend the Israel lobby, so they shot that down, too.
Congressman Ellison also wanted to index a $15 an hour minimum wage to tie it to inflation. And that’s very important as well, because there are lots of corporate Democrats who give lip service to $15 an hour. Now, in fact, Hillary Clinton gives lip service to $15 an hour. But they also propose that this wage hike to $15 an hour go into effect many years in the future, when $15 won’t be worth what $15 is worth now. The Hillary camp shop down Keith Ellison’s inflated wage increase as well.
Dr. Cornel West, the noted black public intellectual, said that he in good conscience could not vote for this platform, so he abstained.
And now the platform, as it went through this 15 member committee, ten controlled by Hillary, five by Bernie, now the document goes on up to a larger committee that’ll act on it in Orlando, Florida, next month.
Now, Bernie Sanders keeps on saying that he’s very disappointed with the way the platform came out in St. Louis, and he continues to say that he’s going to fight for universal health care and he’s going to fight against TPP and he’s going to fight against fracking. But he also says that he’s going to support the nominee of his party, who will be Hillary Clinton. So we see that in St. Louis this past weekend, Hillary Clinton and her establishment Democrats have called Bernie Sanders’ bluff. And he does not have much room to move.
PERIES: Now, he does have quite a bit of leverage, which is his base. And that is also a great overlap between his base and the base of the Democratic Party. And the ruling elite of the party seems to be running away with this platform. Do you think they’ll be held to the ground when it comes to the DNC convention?
PERIES: No. His base, those millions of people and hundreds and hundreds of delegates, they have leverage. They have room to move. But Bernie Sanders has in fact painted himself into a spot that leaves very little room for him to move. And he painted himself into that corner at the beginning of the race when he said that he would support the nominee. If he’s going to support the nominee, well, what kind of shape does that take? He will support the nominee unless he doesn’t like the platform? No, he didn’t equivocate on that. And that’s why I say that the Hillary people are calling his bluff. If he hews to his commitment to support her, come what may, well, we know what’s coming: a platform like this, a corporate kind of campaign.
PERIES: So, Glen, what are the delegates representing Bernie Sanders to do in this situation? Obviously the platform committee wants to take the platform as far right as possible in order to garner as much of the Republican or center right as possible in order to defeat Trump.
FORD: Well, they can be fodder for that establishment Democratic project. They can legitimize that kind of hoodwinking of the people, these progressives wolfs in progressive clothing. Or they can do the really hard work which must be done, which demands to be done, and that is the creation of a party that actually does represent the values and political positions that these millions of folks have fought for: either create a new party out of scratch–and it would be a social democratic party–or build on an already existing social democratic party, which is the Green Party.
But this duopoly path is bankrupt, and I think that this election season has taught people that, has taught the activists, especially in the Bernie camp, that the Democratic Party is a dead end for–it not only is the graveyard for movements; it’s the graveyard even for folks who thought that they were loyal Democrats who could change their party from below, transform the Democratic Party from the inside out. I think they’re learning that you can’t do that. This is a corporate machine and always will be.
PERIES: Alright. Glen, I thank you so much for joining us today.
FORD: Thank you.
PERIES: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
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