by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
The Sanders campaign named Cornel West, and 4 others to the Democratic party 2016 platform committee. But platform promises to Democratic voters have always been worthless. Bill Clinton's 1992 platform promised inner city job programs, reinvestment of military spending and much else. Obama's 2008 platform pledged relief to homeowners in the foreclosure crisis and more. The 2016 platform committee is a dead end for the "political revolution" leveraging the credibility of Brother West behind empty pledges neither the platform committee nor Democratic voters can enforce, promises which Hillary Clinton has no intention of keeping.
Seats on the 2016 Democratic Platform Committee Are a Dead End, NOT a "Political Revolution"
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
Our friend and brother Cornel West has been named by Bernie Sanders to the Democratic Party's 2016 platform committee, along with four other picks. If this is all the millions “feeling the Bern” are gonna get they should feel burnt. Seats on the Dems platform committee have nothing to do with “a political revolution,” nothing at all.
The Democratic party platform is nothing but a list of promises, and while Democratic platform promises to one percent are generally honored, promises made to the 99% in Democratic party platforms are pretty much worthless.
Take the Democratic party platform of 1992, the year Bill Clinton was elected. It promised targeted jobs programs to reduce inner city unemployment, the building of affordable housing, funding of urban mass transit, measures to begin weaning the economy off fossil fuels. It promised a peace dividend, the investment of some of the former Cold War military budget into the civilian economy to create jobs and opportunities. It pledged new environmental protections and committed Democrats to rolling back carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2000. Every bit of this was garbage. On the other hand, the one percent were promised the end of welfare, so that millions would be thrown out onto the low wage labor market, and NAFTA. Those were among the promises that were kept.
1992 wasn't a fluke. Here's a snatch from the 2008 Democratic party platform.
“We will provide immediate relief to working people who have lost their jobs, families who are in danger of losing their homes, and those who – no matter how hard they work – are seeing prices go up more than their income. We will invest in America again –in world-class public education, in our infrastructure, and in green technology –so that our economy can generate the good, high-paying jobs of the future. We will end the outrage of unaffordable, unavailable health care, protect Social Security, and help Americans save for retirement. And we will harness American ingenuity to free this nation from the tyranny of oil."
None of that ever happened either, in fact none of it was even tried.
Millions of families lost their homes to speculators, black families were stripped of about 90% of their wealth, speculators made tens and hundreds of billions, and banks were compensated for their losses. The so-called “unemployment rates” are worthless because they don't count tens of millions who are statistically invisible because they are no longer actively looking for employment that isn't there anyway. Labor force participation in the Obama era is at an all time low, with a few weeks of unemployment compensation for some classes of workers the entirety of the safety net for the jobless. Most new jobs generated by the economy are low wage no-benefit jobs.
The Affordable Care Act left 18 million disproportionately black still uninsured, while many who do have Obamacare find excessive co-pays and high deductibles make it prohibitively expensive to use. President Obama offered Republican leaders what he called a “grand bargain” in which social security raises would be limited and the Medicare eligibility age raised. Fortunately Republicans by that time had made a fetish out of non-cooperation with the First Black President, so it didn't happen.
As for freeing us from the tyranny of oil, the Obama White House covered up the extent of the DeepWater Horizon disaster, the second or third worst oil spill in history, lying to the public about its volume, deploying the US Navy, Coast Guard and local law enforcement to prevent coverage of the corporate crime from land, air or sea. The administration shielded the oil companies from paying the cost of their crime at every turn, and despite having majorities in both houses of Congress at the time, passed no new laws or executive regulation to prevent future catastrophes. To this day the Obama administration is still granting offshore permits for undersea drilling and even deep sea fracking in earthquake prone waters. What could go wrong?
Democratic party platform promises to the 99% are worth exactly nothing, except to campaign surrogates, whose job it is to make promises to gullible audiences the candidate herself would not. The platform committee's purpose is to leverage the credibility of people like Cornel West to make campaign promises Hillary Clinton has no intention of keeping, promises which Democratic voters are also powerless to enforce. Bernie Sanders gets to name 5 platform committee members, Hillary gets 6 and Debbie Wasserman Schultz names the other four. At best, West and the other four Bernie people will be able to insert a few of the traditional empty promises, which are in no way binding upon the next president, any more than previous platforms were binding on Democratic presidents.
Bernie Sanders talks a lot about the pernicious influence of corporate money in political processes as vital to his “political revolution.” If he were serious about keeping that issue alive and reforming the Democratic party Bernie would demand the dissolution of the DCCC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DCCC exists soley for the purpose of extracting millions in contributions from the one percent and funneling those millions to carefully chosen Democratic congressional candidates who will serve the one percent. Back in 2006 Rahm Emanuel headed up the DCCC, in which capacity he recruited and funded every pro-war candidate he could find to run for Congress in Democratic primaries against the Democrats who opposed Bush's invasion of Iraq.
No talk about “capturing” the Democratic party from below, about running local and congressional candidates in future races who oppose the banksters, unjust war, mass incarceration and the like is serious if Bernie and his minions won't name and shame the corporate institutions which actually run the Democratic party while they still possess the national stage provided by Bernie's campaign. It's the DCCC that selects and bankrolls corporate Democrat stooges in primary congressional elections. Similar institutions controled by state legislative leaders in every state perform the same function in local and state elections.
Undoubtedly Brother Cornel and the rest will affirm some lofty principles and make the usual inspiring promises on the 2016 Dems platform committee. We've seen that commercial before. Hyping the selection of new and representative faces on the platform committee as part of some “political revolution” is nonsense. The Democratic party doesn't take orders from the platform committee, from voters or from small contributors. It takes orders from those who write the big checks. If you cannot or will not take aim at the big funders and their bag men inside the Democratic party, your “political revolution” is another empty promise.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and co-chair of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via email at [email protected].