It’s often said, probably with a great degree of accuracy, that a party platform is forgotten soon after a convention is over. For the next few weeks, I intend to turn conventional wisdom on its head and will be exploring, comparing, and contrasting elements of our platform with the Republican Party platform. Because the platforms are lengthy, with the exception of today, I won’t be covering them word for word. For those who want to read ahead, the Democratic Party platform is here: 2016 Democratic Party Platform and the Republican Party Platform can be found here: 2016 Republican Party Platform.
Yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to a crowd at George Mason University in Fairfax VA about the upcoming election.
She reminded people of what is at stake and how important it is to vote. But she also reminded us that this is not about winning gotcha points, high-fiving over some insult that landed a blow on our opponent – it is about focusing on policies, Democratic Party policies, like the ones President Obama championed over the past 7+ years and which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will champion when she is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2017.
We live in a country where a girl like me, from the South Side of Chicago, whose great great grandfather was a slave, can go to some of the finest universities on Earth. We live in a country where a biracial kid from Hawaii named Barack Obama — the son of a single mother — can become president. A country that has always been a beacon for people who have come to our shores and poured their hopes and their prayers, and their backbreaking hard work into making this country what it is today. That is what makes America great. Don’t ever forget it.
And here’s the thing. I know in my heart that we deserve a president who can see those truths in us, a president who believes that each of us is part of the American story and we’re always stronger together. We deserve a president who can bring out what is best in us — our kindness and decency, our courage and determination, so we can keep perfecting our union and passing down those blessings of liberty to our children.
Let me tell you this. I have never been more confident that Hillary Clinton will be that president.
It’s time to go #PositivelyHillary.
Full transcript of Michelle Obama’s speech is below.
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is one of the world’s leading research facilities devoted to the preservation of materials on the global African and African diasporan experiences. A focal point of Harlem’s cultural life, the Center also functions as the national research library in the field, providing free access to its wide-ranging noncirculating collections. It also sponsors programs and events that illuminate and illustrate the richness of black history and culture.
Secretary Clinton spoke of her life and her service but also about the obligation that the Democratic Party, and white politicians in particular, have when asking for the African American vote:
For many white Americans, it’s tempting to believe that bigotry is largely behind us. That would leave us with a lot less work, wouldn’t it? But more than half a century after Rosa Parks sat and Dr. King marched and John Lewis bled, race still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind.
Now anyone — anyone — asking for your vote has a responsibility to grapple with this reality. To see things as they actually are, not just as we want them to be. […]
We Democrats have a special obligation: If we’re serious about our commitment to the poor, to those who need some help, including African Americans, if we continue to ask black people to vote for us, we cannot minimize the realities of the lives they lead or take their concerns for granted.
You know, you can’t just show up at election time and say the right things and think that’s enough. We can’t start building relationships a few weeks before a vote. We have to demonstrate a sustained commitment to building opportunity, creating prosperity, and righting wrongs. Not just every two or four years, not just when the cameras are on and people are watching, but every single day.
So here’s what I ask of you: Hold me accountable. Hold every candidate accountable. What we say matters — but what we do matters more. And you deserve leaders who will do whatever it takes to tear down all the barriers holding you back, and then replace them with those ladders of opportunities that every American deserves to have.
Ending systemic racism requires contributions from all of us — especially those of us who haven’t experienced it ourselves. White Americans need to do a better job of listening when African Americans talk about the seen and unseen barriers that you face every day.
(Hillary Clinton: “Hold me accountable … hold every candidate accountable.’)
We are the party that passed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. We are the party that nominated and elected the first black president. But we are more than that: we are the only party in America that wants to break down barriers to opportunity, that wants to break down barriers to voting and to higher education and to good jobs and to having a chance to achieve the American dream.
This speech is an important reminder to all Democrats that we need to not just talk the talk but walk the walk. We can’t end systemic racism until we acknowledge its existence and for white Americans that requires owning our own role in its perpetuation, fighting our own innate biases.
Let us, together, knock down the barriers and replace them with ladders of opportunity – not ladders where the bottom few rungs are removed and the struggle to gain a foothold requires a boost or an incredible act of strength and determination or just luck – but the same ladders that white Americans have as their “birthright”.
Senate Democrats unveiled their energy bill this past Tuesday.
There is not much hope that the bill will be passed and signed into law but it is an important step in defining where Democrats stand on energy and the environment:
“Today’s announcement should send a clear signal that it is a top priority for Senate Democrats to invest in our nation’s energy future and address climate change before it’s too late,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) at a Tuesday press conference. The legislation “is a technology driven pathway to a clean energy future,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) who sponsored the bill, dubbed the “American Energy Innovation Act of 2015.”
Though it would not set a price on carbon emissions, like the failed cap-and-trade bill from five years ago, her bill does contain many provisions intended to accelerate the shift to a low-carbon economy, and sets a more ambitious carbon target than the White House.
It is important to establish what Democrats are for in order to help voters understand that there is a real difference between the two national parties:
“At a time when the majority in Congress is seemingly at the beck and call of the fossil fuel industry, legislation like this … lays out clear clean energy priorities, offering a blueprint for the kind of energy policy that actually represents what the American public actually wants and reflects the direction the market and the nation are actually going,” Sierra Club legislative director, Melinda Pierce, told ThinkProgress. Pierce said that it would not be surprising to see some parts of the bill adapted into other bills that would have a better chance of passage.
This past week, Democratic Party candidate for president Hillary Clinton announced her energy plan, which began with her stating her opposition to building the Keystone Pipeline. She is the second Democratic candidate to release a plan (Martin O’Malley also released one).
Clinton had long refused to take a public stance on Keystone, a project that was first filed with the State Department during her tenure as Secretary of State. But the increasingly-visible threat of climate change, Clinton wrote in an essay published today on Medium, caused her to finally release an official position on the proposed pipeline, which would bring tar sands crude from Canada to Nebraska.
“We shouldn’t be building a pipeline dedicated to moving North America’s dirtiest fuel through our communities — we should be focused on what it will take to make America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century,” Clinton said in the essay. “Building a clean, secure, and affordable North American energy future is bigger than Keystone XL or any other single project. That’s what I will focus on as president.” […]
“American energy policy is about more than a single pipeline to transport Canada’s dirtiest fuel across our country,” Clinton wrote. “It’s about building our future — a future where the United States will once again lead the world by constructing state-of-the-art infrastructure, creating new jobs and new markets, accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy, and improving the health, safety, and security of all Americans.”
Secretary Clinton’s full statement on Keystone and her plan is below the fold.
On August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Democrat, signed the Social Security Act into law. Since that time, Social Security has been protected by Democratic presidents and Democratic Congresses.
Before the 1930s, support for the elderly was a matter of local, state and family rather than a Federal concern (except for veterans’ pensions). However, the widespread suffering caused by the Great Depression brought support for numerous proposals for a national old-age insurance system. On January 17, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent a message to Congress asking for “social security” legislation.
The act created a uniquely American solution to the problem of old-age pensions. Unlike many European nations, U.S. social security “insurance” was supported from “contributions” in the form of taxes on individuals’ wages and employers’ payrolls rather than directly from Government funds. The act also provided funds to assist children, the blind, and the unemployed; to institute vocational training programs; and provide family health programs.
Prior to Social Security, the elderly routinely faced the prospect of poverty upon retirement. For the most part, that fear has now dissipated.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Democratic president, created a long-lasting program to keep our most vulnerable citizens out of poverty.
The latest dustup in the progressive blogosphere has exposed a rift in the progressive movement.
It is something that should not be a rift and maybe it does not reach the level of rift but is still a pretty strong disagreement that is generating more heat than light.
The goals of the #BlackLivesMatter movement are fundamental to our core Democratic Party principles and should not just be picked from a grab bag of progressive issues to focus on in the coming election. Racial justice issues need to be addressed because they are a matter of life and death. It can be argued that economic issues are a matter of life and death and that is certainly true. But a rising economic tide that raises all boats does nothing but drown those who have no boats, who can’t swim, or who are being held down.
Maybe the rift turned into a flame war because we, as Democrats, haven’t had to deal with a primary process for 7 years and we forget the bitter battles of 2007 and 2008. Maybe it is because we remember the bitter battles of 2007 and 2008 and don’t want to give an inch lest our ideal of Perfect Progressivism will not match up to the eventual nominee selected to carry our banner into the general election in 2016.
On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Democrat, signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964
The act outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin and gave the federal courts jurisdiction over enforcement, taking it out of the state courts where justice was uneven at best.
The Civil Rights Act had political ramifications as well. Its adoption caused a mass exodus of angry racists from the Democratic Party in the old south to the Republican Party. And the politics born of hatred of The Other gave the not-so-Grand Old Party the presidency for 28 out of the next 40 years.