DNC Platform—Reaching for a New Normal
The author, who last week analyzed the potential impact on women of the policies outlined in the Republican National Platform, here turns to the Democratic statement of principles.
If the Democratic National Party’s 2012 platform were a movie script, they could name it “Different is the New Normal.” For the 99 percent, “normal” puts it squarely in widespread release for general audiences because it reflects how we live every day. The platform is “new” because it reflects Obama’s struggle to turn away from the destructive old Bush tax cuts, old outsourcing, and old social safety net cuts that have defined too many years in American politics. And “different” of course because the DNC officially approved gay marriage in this platform named “Moving America Forward,” passed September 4 at the convention held September 4 to 6 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
This highly politicized platform of 2012 shows a party ready to achieve success in a stubborn economy, while allowing social structures to grow according to evolving values.
REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH The platform provides a welcome answer to the "War on Women" hostilities surrounding birth control and abortion in particular. The Democratic platform states that the party supports birth control availability and "unequivocally" supports Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that affirmed a constitutional right to an abortion. The platform also "supports a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay."
HEALTH CARE REFORM Contrary to the Republican advertising blitz, the Democrats support Medicare, and do not want to make major cuts. "Democrats adamantly oppose any efforts to privatize or voucherize Medicare," the platform states. Also, the Dems will continue to roll out and implement ObamaCare through its goal start date of 2014. The platform pledges to continue building on the new health care law. “Accessible, affordable, high-quality health care is part of the American promise, that Americans should have the security that comes with good health care, and that no one should go broke because they get sick. No law is perfect, and Democrats stand willing to work with anyone to improve the law where necessary, but we are committed to moving forward," the platform states.
IMMIGRATION "Democrats are strongly committed to enacting comprehensive immigration reform," that would allow many undocumented workers and their children to stay in the country for work, school or the military, the platform says. Immigration overhaul would require illegal immigrants "to get right with the law, learn English and pay taxes." It also calls for a visa system that meets the country's "economic needs, keeps families together and enforces the law." It acknowledges, though, "Only Congress can provide a permanent, comprehensive solution."
WOMEN’S CIVIL RIGHTS Two important programs are supported in the platform, the Violence Against Women Act and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. And two additional sentences in the platform express a wider statement of Democrats’ concerns for women. “We are committed to ensuring full equality for women. We reaffirm our support for the Equal Rights Amendment, recommit to enforcing Title IX, support the Paycheck Fairness Act, and will urge ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.”
GAY CIVIL RIGHTS There is no more controversial political and civil rights issue on display in the platform than the embracing of gay marriage. From “Moving America Forward”:
We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference. We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.
ECONOMY AND LABOR The goal as laid out in the platform is to resurrect the U.S. middle class, by ending the Bush high-end tax cuts. Talking Point Memo describes a wonderful line-in-the-sand drawn by the Democrats’ platform: “(It) calls for future deficit reduction to exclusively come from tax hikes on wealthy individuals and businesses, implying the party’s willingness to open negotiations with Republicans by agreeing to cut spending on social programs unconditionally, is over.”
As with the Republicans last week, the Democratic Party passes a platform every four years to spell out its government policy philosophy, and lay out a general direction on how it would govern. If reelected, will a new Obama administration succeed in its vision? It's too bad that the word filibuster does not appear once in the platform, since this delay procedure has been used in Congress against President Obama more than any other president. Senate reform of the filibuster process, the determined use of which has done more to stop or delay the Obama package of legislative reforms than anything else in his first term, might go a long way toward turning the promises of this platform into reality.
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