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Did Bernie Sanders Change the Democratic Party Platform?

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Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders

by Val Zavala

This article is based on material from Ballotpedia, a non-partisan online encyclopedia of American politics and elections.

What motivated Bernie?

What has motivated Bernie Sanders? To win? Or to influence the Democratic Party’s positon on key issues? The answer changed a bit along the way.

Earlier in his campaign he was interested in both winning and changing the party’s agenda. Later on, when winning the nomination was a long shot, he said they were headed to Philadelphia to influence the Party’s platform. Specifically “to fight for a progressive party platform that calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage, an end to our disastrous trade policies, a Medicare-for-all health care system, breaking up Wall Street financial institutions, ending fracking in our country, making public colleges and universities tuition free and passing a carbon tax so we can effectively address the planetary crisis of climate change”

A lesser discussed issue: Israel and Palestine

How the Democratic Party characterized the needs of Israel and Palestine was also of interest to Sanders. Sanders selected James Zogby to sit on the Platform Drafting Committee so the platform would reflect that although "people are very supportive of Israel, they are not so supportive of various policies supported by Israel.”

Clinton's campaign declined to say what, if any, changes she would want in the party platform position on Israel. Instead, senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan said, "Hillary Clinton’s views on Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship are well-documented and she’s confident that her delegates will work to ensure that the party platform reflects them.”

Final Platform: “We got 80% of what we wanted”

A final draft of the platform was issued on  July 10th.  Sanders succeeded in including positions on several key issues: climate change, healthcare, and the federal minimum wage. But among their unsuccessful proposals were a rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, language on Israeli settlements, and a ban on fracking. "We got 80% of what we wanted in this platform,” said Warren Gunnels, a foreign policy adviser to Sanders.

Sanders: “The most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party”

When Sanders endorsed Clinton on July 12th he said "I am happy to tell you that at the Democratic Platform Committee … there was a significant coming together between the two campaigns and we produced, by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party. Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton presidency – and I am going to do everything I can to make that happen.”

The 2016 Democratic Party platform can be viewed here.

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