By Bob Dorn
What the U.S. needs now is a good old-fashioned platform fight at the Democratic Party Convention, only 4 months distant in this nightmare year.
We need to see just who are these people we’re told are the party’s established leaders. What do they really believe?
A thoroughly open platform discussion would show us what the governors and Congress members believe should happen to Bernie Sanders’ pledge to pay the tuition of the children of the middle class. The party’s establishment at its convention this July ought to have to take a position on the Transpacific Partnership, a trade agreement that was negotiated out of sight by a commission mostly composed of international corporate executives and their sergeants. Should we have a national commission on police shootings and gun registration policies? Why not? How about a pledge endorsing a legislative repeal of Citizens United? Couldn’t the Democratic Party get behind an expansion of the EPA so that it could enforce laws governing the soiling of our air and water and the degrading of the planet’s climate?
Now that Bernie Sanders has proposed most of the above, and has already won more than 800 delegates pledged to vote for him, and now that Bernie lost Missouri by a whisker and made a credible showing in Illinois, almost all the MSM-BS media is floating notions that he should drop out. We’re back to the drone of experts saying his defeat is inevitable, his victory over Clinton impossible.
But what if Bernie Sanders ties Clinton up during the Pacific Coast primaries and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the DNC shut down his still expanding delegation? Could the Democratic establishment stand to ignore calls for a and a repeal of big money’s influence over elections and politicians, a meaningful tax on wealth, serious gun registration laws and the generation of American jobs with infrastructure repairs and a winding down of frivolous foreign wars?
This is the stuff historical fights are made of.
Back in 1924 motivated Democrats lost by one vote a platform plank condemning the KKK when a delegate from Georgia “was physically intimidated into changing her vote by Klansmen in her delegation,” as Ed Kilgore writes in The Democratic Strategist. Wasn’t that fight worth it?
A much bigger struggle occurred in Chicago in 1968 when a minority of delegates led by Senators Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, and Edward Kennedy put forward a platform that called for an immediate cessation of the bombing of Vietnam and a withdrawal of our troops there. The convention was locked up into the wee hours before it sided with Hubert Humphrey, the nominee, and approved a platform element that called for a more gradual end to the war.
Hubert Humphrey lost the 1968 election to Richard M. Nixon, who had artfully dodged the question of what we were doing there in Southeast Asia until that war ended seven long years later, in 1975, as Ho Chi Minh’s North Vietnam army flooded into the South, and after many American and Vietnamese and Cambodian lives were lost, needlessly. I’m glad McCarthy and McGovern and Kennedy fought that fight. I’m glad Ho Chi Minh fought his.
Platform fights admittedly have receded in more recent years. Historian Curt Lader, whose textbooks trace the two parties’ floor fights, notes that by 1996 and 2000 “both the Republican and Democratic conventions avoided televised platform controversy over thorny issues prior to the start of the conventions.” In other words, the revolution will not be televised. (Here’s to your everlasting soul, Gil Scott-Heron).
But Bernie’s little revolution, the one that routinely gathers 5,000 and 10,000 celebrants in far-flung stadiums and arenas, will not end with the whimpering of a few thousand corporate commentators doing the work of their masters. They aren’t making sense, and they aren’t seeing into the country they’re supposed to be explaining.
At first, JEB!, was going to save the party from Trump. He won no primaries. Then Rubio was to save the Republican legacy but he failed even to win his home state. Kasich would save this dying Republican establishment.
On the other hand, how many of these “liberal reporters” are circulating the Democratic National Committee’s drone that Bernie’s campaign is dead? He has won twice as many Democratic delegates than the Republican delegates Ted Cruz has won. National media aren’t calling for him to leave the race.
A platform fight may well arise, and it would begin with Bernie’s elaboration of a more just society. Democrats like Hillary Clinton, who’ve found it so easy to declare their dedication to equal justice by showing up for St. Patrick’s Day parades and speeches to Wall St. investment firms would have to go on record approving or condemning these platform positions.
That way we could better gauge what kind of future awaits all of us when this deal goes down.