Friday, May 27, 2016

10 Outrageous Ways the Democratic Establishment Has Betrayed Their 2008 Party Platform (and thus, their recent olive branch to Bernie Sanders is withered and meaningless)

Above: In the 2008 Democratic Party Platform, the Democratic Establishment wrote: "We will start by renewing the American Dream for a new era - with the same new hope and new ideas that propelled Franklin Delano Roosevelt towards the New Deal..." Have you seen many New Deal-type policies being offered by the Democratic Elite lately? I haven't. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Recently, in an attempt to trick progressives into voting for their center-right candidate Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Establishment has given Bernie Sanders 5 selections to the 15-member drafting committee of Democratic Party Platform. However, there's a big problem with this: The Democratic Party has a strong, recent history of ignoring the progressive sections of their platform.

Let's take a look at 10 ideas from the 2008 platform, and see how the Democratic Establishment has ultimately ignored or betrayed those ideas.

1. Social Security

The Platform: “We believe that every American… should have the chance to… retire with dignity and security… We will… protect Social Security… We will fulfill our obligation to strengthen Social Security… We will safeguard Social Security.”

The Reality: Hillary Clinton has hesitated on expanding Social Security, and President Obama has offered to cut Social Security.

2. Health Insurance and the Public Option

The Platform: “Families and individuals should have the option of keeping the coverage they have or choosing from a wide array of health insurance plans, including many private health insurance options and a public plan.”

The Reality: To please Corporate America, President Obama refused to back the Public Option during health care reform.

3. Job programs to help the unemployed 

The Platform: “We will develop innovative transitional job programs that place unemployed people into temporary jobs and train them for permanent ones.”

The Reality: In 2011, when U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) drafted legislation to create a new WPA for unemployed Americans, President Obama offered little or no support, and most Democrats in Congress offered little or no support. The bill died in committee.

4. Infrastructure and the Tennessee Valley Authority

The Platform: "Americans [have] called on their government to 'invest back' in them and their country... That's what Franklin Delano Roosevelt did in creating the Tennessee Valley Authority, electrifying rural America and investing in an Arsenal of Democracy. That's the kind of leadership we intend to provide."

The Reality: Since the Party Platform was written, President Obama has tried to get rid of the Tennessee Valley Authority multiple times (see, e.g., here).

5. College Education

The Platform: "The Democratic Party firmly believes that... the opportunity to succeed in college must be the birthright of every child–not the privilege of the few."

The Reality: College Graduates from non-wealthy families have $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, and the Obama Administration has misled the public about student loan fraud. Meanwhile, rich Democrats can afford to put their kids through college, debt-free, and Hillary Clinton and her supporters have mocked Bernie Sanders' proposal for free public colleges (even though other industrialized countries do it). 

6. Trade Policy

The Platform: “We need tougher negotiators on our side of the table–to strike bargains that are good not just for Wall Street, but also for Main Street.”

The Reality: President Obama shut the public out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement negotiations, while seeking the advice and consent of corporations.  Hillary Clinton went along with this approach (but eventually, under pressure, did not support the TPP).

7. Predatory Lending

The Platform: “We will crack down on predatory lenders…”

The Reality: The chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, protects predatory lenders from regulatory oversight in exchange for campaign cash.

8. Illegal Surveillance

The Platform: “We support constitutional protections and judicial oversight on any surveillance program involving Americans. We will review the current Administration's warrantless wiretapping program. We reject illegal wiretapping of American citizens, wherever they live.”

The Reality: For the past several years, Edward Snowden has been on the run from the Obama Administration for exposing wide-scale illegal wiretapping of American citizens.

9. Puerto Rico and Democracy

The Platform: “We believe that the people of Puerto Rico have the right to the political status of their choice, obtained through a fair, neutral, and democratic process of self-determination.”

The Reality: Hillary Clinton, the Obama Administration, and many other Democrats recently threw their support behind a plan to create an un-democratic and Republican-controlled oversight board to impose austerity on struggling Puerto Ricans (see, e.g., here). Somehow, this doesn't seem to square with the idea of giving Puerto Rico a high degree of self-determination. For example, how can Puerto Rico gain statehood or independence (if that's what they choose) with a right-wing oversight board controlling their financial system for the benefit of Wall Street? Answer: They can't - they'll be treated like a colony until vulture capitalists have squeezed every last penny from them (and then a portion of this ill-gotten gain will be given to the politicians who helped make it happen; this is America's routine system of legalized bribery).

10. The Influence of Special Interests and Campaign Finance Reform

The Platform: “We have let the special interests put their thumbs on the economic scales… A Barack Obama Administration will make it clear to the special interests that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over… because in America, everyone's voice matters in the political process… We support campaign finance reform to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests, including public financing of campaigns… We will have the wisdom to put the public interest above special interests.”

The Reality: Once in office, President Obama and the Democratic Establishment did little, if anything, to follow through on this part of the platform.  The Democratic Establishment still takes gobs of money from Wall Street and puts the needs of special interests over the needs of the people.  With respect to “everyone’s voice matters in the political process,” recent research shows that ordinary Americans, as compared to Corporate America and the super-wealthy, have virtually no influence on public policy.

Further, President Obama has worked very hard to increase the influence of Wall Street, by nominating and appointing many Wall Street cronies into important government positions. And when Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders did create (or enhance) a movement to reduce the influence of corporate money on our government (his presidential campaign), he was widely mocked by the Democratic Establishment, by op-ed writers who had previously railed against corporate influence (e.g., Paul Krugman), by mainstream media outlets who routinely give money to Hillary Clinton, and by many (not all) of Hillary Clinton's supporters. Ooops, so much for this section of the party’s platform!

Conclusion: Corporate Cash (i.e., Bribery) Has Completely Corrupted the Democratic Party 

So, why does the Democratic Establishment routinely ignore or betray its own platform? Answer: Because they want more campaign cash from Corporate America, as well as more campaign cash from millionaires and billionaires. And to get that cash, they know that they have to hurt non-wealthy Americans. They realize that the interests of the rich are usually diametrically opposed to the interests of the non-rich. Take Puerto Rico for example. The Democratic Establishment expresses sympathy for Puerto Rico, but they also realize that many super-wealthy Americans--Americans they want more cash from--want to crush Puerto Rico, for fun and profit (call it "financial orgasm through economic sadism"). So, the Democratic Establishment says, in effect, "Sorry Puerto Rico, we'd like to help, but, our corporate supervisors say 'hell no!'"

In sum, giving Sanders five picks to the drafting committee is a withered, meaningless olive branch from the corrupt Democratic Establishment. Progressives shouldn't fall for it.

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