Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Soothing the Bern: Sanders gets platform concessions from DNC

Sanders and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) have been going at it about the makeup of the platform committee. The result of the wrangling, Sanders getting to appoint more members of the platform committee, is important for two reasons. First, the platform contains policy statements which, supposedly, the party and its candidate will champion in the general election. Second, it is a recognition of the political clout Sanders has acquired during the course of the primary.

Greg Sargent writing at the Washington Post/Plum Line points us at the story by the Post's Anne Gearan and then provides more background and comments.

The Post’s Anne Gearan scoops the latest move by the Democratic establishment to try to minimize turbulence at the Democratic convention:

Sen. Bernie Sanders will get highly unusual say over the drafting of the Democratic Party platform this year even if, as expected, he loses the primary contest to Hillary Clinton.

The two Democratic candidates have agreed with Democratic Party officials to a new apportionment of the 15-member committee that writes the platform, according to Democratic officials familiar with the compromise worked out this month.

Sanders will name five members and Clinton six, based on the number of popular votes each has received to date, one official said. Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz will name four. The campaign choices were selected in consultation with the campaigns and the DNC from larger slates of 12 and 10 suggested by the campaigns.

Sargent reports that this membership is the result of negotiations between the Sanders campaign and the DNC.

Previously, the DNC had suggested that both the Sanders and Clinton get four appointees on the 15-person committee, with the DNC picking the remaining seven. But Sanders was unhappy with this arrangement, and fired off a letter to the DNC earlier this month demanding that both campaigns get seven slots, with the DNC picking one.

Sargent continues.

I can add more: Sanders’s policy director, Warren Gunnels, will have a major hand in trying to influence the outcome of the platform, a source familiar with ongoing talks tells me. Gunnels may not end up being a voting member of the platform drafting committee, but he will play a staff role at a minimum.

Gunnels and the Sanders campaign are already at work producing a draft of the bullet points it hopes to get into the party platform, the source continues. Some things the Sanders camp will push for include firm opposition to a vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership in this Congress; requirements to break up too-big-to-fail financial institutions; more in infrastructure spending; a $15-per-hour minimum wage; tuition-free public college, and, possibly, a carbon tax, in keeping with the ambitious agenda Sanders has campaigned on.

These positions are consistent with the Sanders campaign's focus on economic and environmental issues. Should the final platform reflect the Sanders positions, then the exact makeup of the committee will be less important. I'm hoping the Sanders supporters agree.

Lauren McCauley at commondreams.org weighs in on the rapid moves by Sanders to influence the platform: "Seizing Chance, Sanders Makes Bold Progressive Picks to Shape DNC Platform" - Though compromised allotment falls short of Sanders' suggestion, Vermont Senator doesn't waste opportunity to make progressive choices.. Snippets from McCauley follow.

Seizing on the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) reluctant concession allowing him to appoint five members to the committee that writes the party platform, Bernie Sanders on Monday announced a suite of picks that included activists across the progressive sphere.

Sanders' appointees to the 15-member Platform Drafting Committee include: racial justice activist and scholar Dr. Cornel West, 350.org co-founder and noted environmentalist Bill McKibben, Native American activist Deborah Parker, Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and James Zogby, a pro-Palestinian scholar as well as founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI).

The deal falls short of Sanders' recommendation that each campaign choose seven members for the Drafting Committee and the 15th member would jointly picked by the two campaigns. Nonetheless, it is an improvement over the standing rule, under which the DNC chair would consider a list of ten names from each candidate, choose four from each and then appoint an additional seven. [Scriber: And that is a very big win for Sanders!]

"We believe that we will have the representation on the platform drafting committee to create a Democratic platform that reflects the views of millions of our supporters who want the party to address the needs of working families in this country and not just Wall Street, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry and other powerful special interests," Sanders said in a statement.

Here are Greg Sargent's concluding remarks - and a final note from your Scriber.

The current split ... falls short of the Sanders camp’s request for seven slots for each campaign, plus only one for the DNC. The Sanders camp may also be angered by the four slots kept by the party, since it has been arguing that the party is essentially in the bag for Clinton. But the DNC has pared back its own influence over the committee somewhat, and has now given Sanders a level of representation on the committee, relative to that of Clinton, that is likely to be proportional to their differences in the pledged delegate count after the voting concludes. According to Democrats involved in the talks, party officials had concluded it would be unfair to give both campaigns equal representation, given that Clinton has won substantially more popular votes than Sanders has.

One big question looming over the endgame of the primaries is whether Sanders will do everything he can to persuade his supporters that the outcome — resulting in Clinton’s nomination — was legitimate. Whether the DNC’s latest moves will help make that more likely — and whether they will lead Sanders supporters to be more accepting of that argument — remains to be seen.

To take a bid from bridge, if Clinton and Sanders supporters come together to bid "No Trump" and make the bid, the country will be better off. The only sure way to lose is to fold your hand.

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