Those in the far-left Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party achieved a big win in the crafting of the Democratic National Committee’s 2020 platform. The bulk of the draft document is lifted word-for-word from the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force policy recommendations.
In an effort to bridge ideological gaps in the party and shore up votes for Joe Biden from those who supported Sanders, the Biden campaign and aides to Sanders agreed to create committees of allies from each of their ideological wings to create defined policies that all Democrats could unify around.
The work of the committee was often described as merely “policy recommendations” in news reports, but its stated aim was to influence the Democratic National Committee’s 2020 platform.
And that it did. Most of the Democratic 80-page draft platform is lifted word-for-word from the 110-page Unity Task Force recommendations, including large portions of six out of nine of the main policy sections in the platform. Some paragraphs and sentences from the task force were rearranged and expanded on. And like the platform, the task force stopped short of including a call for the contentious “Medicare for all” and Green New Deal policy proposals.
Huge sections of the platform lifted by the task force recommendations include the “Combating the climate crisis and pursuing environmental justice” section that came out of a committee led by former Secretary of State John Kerry and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; “Protecting communities by reforming our criminal justice system,” which calls for the end of cash bail; and sections on immigration and education.
Amassing enough nominating delegates to the Democratic National Convention to influence the party platform was a major focus of his organizers even after he suspended his campaign. The goal of influence was important to Sanders in 2016, too — and led to very public platform meeting flights.
Biden, in a gesture of unity, reached a deal with Sanders to allow him to keep delegates in order to exert influence over the party’s platform, a change from how the delegates were originally meant to be allocated.
This time, the platform crafting was done largely away from public view — and first crafted outside the platform committee.
But the DNC’s platform committee, led by rumored Biden running mate contender Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and which included three Sanders aides, did exclude some strong language from the party platform.
For instance, in the section on education, the Sanders task force recommendations opened with: “The United States today is beset by multiple, overlapping crises, including runaway income and wealth inequality, the worst global pandemic in a century, and the scourge of anti-Black racism.” The platform replaced that with: “Education is fundamental to the idea of America and to fulfilling our nation’s promise.”
And the platform eliminated a subsection about school policy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that included a few lines about the contentious issue of reopening schools: “While distance and online learning is an appropriate stop-gap, it cannot become the new normal. Each school district should be supported in determining when distance learning is necessary for protecting public health and student safety.”
Other strong language, such as references to a “rigged” economic system, remained.
Sanders saw some other wins in the platform outside of the verbatim adoption of unity task force recommendations.
While moderates did not explicitly endorse “Medicare for all,” the single-payer healthcare system that would essentially eliminate private insurance and opposed by Biden, it received a favorable mention.
“Our party welcomes advocates who want to build on and strengthen the Affordable Care Act and those who support a Medicare for All approach,” the platform says.
Moderates in the party prevented, however, supporters of Sanders from including some policy endorsements that they hoped for, such as the legalization of marijuana or mention of Israel “occupying” the West Bank.