What’s there to say about the 80-page draft Democratic Party Platform? There’s something in it for everyone, maybe that’s why it’s so long. It’s full of lofty goals and language that promises the moon. As a life-long Democrat, I found myself agreeing with 90+% of it, and taking notes to tweak it here and there.
The light-bulb went on about half way through my review when I realized that my “tweaks” actually pointed to a much bigger problem.
Even if the Democratic Party could make good on its intentions — and we all know it will require the Democrats to regain control of the Senate, build a stronger majority in the House, and win the Presidency in 2020! — this draft platform reads like a well-worn, dusty paperback from the 1990’s with ideas that might have galvanized my parents’ generation.
Sadly it’s not a platform for the 21st Century, for the young adults and children who are going to inherit the mess that the Democrats and Republicans (MY GENERATION) have bequeathed to them.
As a political statement, it’s understandable that the Democratic Party wants to distinguish itself from the ghastly failures of the Trump Administration. Nearly every paragraph begins with a description of the evil that has befallen our nation in the past four years, followed by how the Democrats are going to do things much differently, and so much better. Certainly, a breath of fresh air. I suspect most Democrats (maybe even some Republicans) will read this draft Platform and cheer the drafters.
THIS PLATFORM IS NOT MUCH DIFFERENT NOR BETTER THAN THE DEMOCRATIC PLATFORMS OF A BYGONE ERA. It’s simply better than Trump, and setting the bar as low as that is not how the Democratic Party should be measuring itself. Instead, the Democratic Party needs to measure itself by the challenges facing future generations of Americans.
#1 Climate chaos is an existential threat. The draft platform includes all of the talking points that any good Democrat wants to hear about climate change (with the exception of the inclusion of nuclear energy) but it falls flat in elevating climate decision-making to the central focus it must have in every aspect of our lives, and in our government.
#2 Global relationships and struggles are confirming the undeniable fact that we are truly one. Yet, the Democratic Party leaders (as the draft Platform reveals) still believe in the 20th century paradigm of us versus them; with a top-down, hierarchical worldview that belies reality, and the next generation of leaders around the world knows it.
#3 The economy of the 21st century will not look like the economy of the 20th. Yet, the Democratic Party doesn’t acknowledge how the future is evolving so rapidly and profoundly different from our recent past. The global pandemic is opening up opportunities to recreate our lives and hasten towards a more just future for everyone (Americans as well as the global south), but the Democratic Party clearly doesn’t see it and can’t articulate that future, much less set us on a path towards it.
I wasn’t surprised when I came to the very last page of the draft Democratic Party Platform and found how the draft addresses Israel and Palestine. It captures the fossilized thinking that permeates the Democratic Party leadership, and the inability of the Party to recognize and understand the new reality on the ground.
Democrats believe a strong, secure, and democratic Israel is vital to the interests of the United States. Our commitment to Israel’s security, its qualitative military edge, its right to defend itself, and the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding is ironclad.
Democrats recognize the worth of every Israeli and every Palestinian. That’s why we will work to help bring to an end a conflict that has brought so much pain to so many. We support a negotiated two-state solution that ensures Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state with recognized borders and upholds the right of Palestinians to live in freedom and security in a viable state of their own.
Democrats oppose any unilateral steps by either side—including annexation—that undermine prospects for two states. Democrats will continue to stand against incitement and terror. We oppose settlement expansion. We believe that while Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel, an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths. Democrats will restore U.S.-Palestinian diplomatic ties and critical assistance to the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza, consistent with U.S. law. We oppose any effort to unfairly single out and delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement, while protecting the Constitutional right of our citizens to free speech.
I won’t dignify these last three paragraphs of the Democratic Party Platform with a critique because I honestly don’t believe the Party leaders are capable of hearing, much less understanding, a thoughtful response.
I’m going to work as hard as I can to get fresh new thinking into the halls of Congress and into the White House. The next Democratic Party Platform needs to be drafted by 20- and 30-somethings who will have a stake in the future of our country. Clearly, the old fogies don’t have a clue.