Reprinted from Campaign For America's Future
Bernie Sanders' "political revolution" scored some impressive wins this weekend at the Democratic Party Platform Committee meeting in Orlando, adding to its victories last month in St. Louis. ABC News called the resulting document "exceptionally progressive."
Apparently Sanders had more leverage after the California primary than his critics were willing to admit.
To be sure, there were also some losses -- most notably on getting the party on record opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. But this new movement has already had a major impact on American politics. It's likely to have even more in the months and years to come.
Then and Now
Having spent a year working for the Sanders campaign, I know that it's all too easy to forget how far we've come since Bernie declared his candidacy last April. At that point there was no major opposition to Hillary Clinton's bid for the Democratic nomination.
As the party's then-presumptive nominee, and throughout the primary, Secretary Clinton struck a very different tone from the one in evidence today. She was against a $15 federal minimum wage and opposed the idea of tuition-free public college. She argued against major changes to the Affordable Care Act, saying she would make incremental improvements without saying exactly what those improvements would be.
Clinton would not commit to expanding Social Security. She had accepted campaign funds from lobbyists for private prison companies. As secretary of state she had spoken in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It was widely assumed that she still supported its passage, as President Obama does.
Until the Sanders campaign began gaining momentum, Clinton was the Democratic Party's de facto leader-in-waiting. Many observers assumed she would run a Republican Lite campaign once she secured the nomination, taking the party with her.
Today Clinton, working with Sanders, is on record as supporting major changes in our health care system. She has agreed to double the funding for community health centers, which already provide primary care to 25 million people at lower cost and higher efficiency than the private insurance-based system.
Clinton has also agreed to support a "public option" insurance plan as an alternative to private insurance, and to allow people 55 years and older to "opt in" to Medicare without endangering the current system.
Clinton and Sanders also agreed on a compromise proposal that would over time provide free tuition at public colleges and universities to all families earning $125,000 a year or less -- a figure which includes 83 percent of all students.
The draft platform, to be voted upon by the full convention later this month, now calls for a $15 minimum wage indexed to inflation. A criminal reform amendment includes federal guidelines for police body cameras; training for police officers on handling conflict; preferring "treatment over incarceration in handling addiction"; and Department of Justice investigations of all police shootings.
The draft's banking language is much stronger than observers might have expected one year ago. It condemns "the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street" before proposing a break up of too-big-to-fail banks, a modern-day Glass-Steagall Act, and closing corporate tax loopholes.