Bernie Sanders won a few key policy victories in the new Democratic party platform, a largely symbolic document, but one with far-ranging consequences for the political party. The inclusion of key policy beliefs, like Wall Street reform and opposition to the death penalty, are due to Sanders’ influence, signaling concessions by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to the runner-up for the Democratic nomination. It is somewhat unprecedented for the losing candidate to have such an impact, but in the long run it could be a very good move for the party as a whole.
Bernie Sanders’ campaign proved a very important fact to the country. It went far beyond simple political belief. It went to the core of compassionate principles overtaking political pragmatism. It was a progressive movement within a party that is still run by its established leaders. While Hillary Clinton won the nomination outright, exhibiting the remaining power of Democratic elites, Sanders showed the need for voters to have a more progressive lead to follow and the call for one within the party itself.
As if in acknowledgement of the movement towards progressive engagement with politics, the DNC and Clinton allowed Bernie Sanders a cooperative role in creating party politics. In effect, he has taken a step towards moving the Democratic party to his side of things, the populist movement that made him a presidential contender. The fact that many of these positions share in bi-partisan popularity is important to the survival of the Democratic party.
The Washington Post reports that some of the key provisions in the new platform are ending the “revolving door” between Wall Street interests and Washington, reforming the Federal Reserve and making the United States Postal service a banking resource for Americans. “We’re off to an excellent start, and we look forward to continuing to work with Secretary Clinton’s campaign to make this the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party,” said Warren Gunnels, the chief policy adviser on the Sanders campaign.
If this document is a symbolic effort, why does it matter? It all comes down to representation. In the immediate term, it allows Bernie Sanders’ supporters to feel represented by the party now led by Hillary Clinton. In the long-term, it could create substantive, progressive change in Democratic politics. As America becomes more progressive, a change that has been seen slowly growing in recent years, any party that appeals to progressives could become stronger. From a purely political standpoint, a stronger party is one of the most desirable outcomes of any action.
In an interview with Vox, Ryan Enos, a Harvard professor, noted, “We know that voters in the public get pulled in the direction of the people with the microphone. If someone gets up there and tries pulling some issue to the left, the party can move in that direction.” That is what Sanders has done with his campaign. He has created space for progressive politics in the Democratic party that goes beyond playing second fiddle to the party establishment. The more that the Democratic party can count on progressive support, the more likely it will continue to be a strong alternative to its political opponents, not a third option to progressive candidates. For more CDA News, follow our tweets on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
Opinion by Charlie Carlisle