“The majority of Democrats, like the majority of Americans, are against the TPP. Hillary is against the TPP. Bernie is against the TPP. Let’s not be bureaucrats, let’s be leaders,” declared former NAACP president Ben Jealous as he urged the Democratic Party’s platform committee to amend the document to include specific opposition to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
But despite the fact that the party’s presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton, and her chief rival for the nomination, Bernie Sanders, have expressed explicit opposition to the deal, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of congressional Democrats oppose it, despite the fact that Democratic and Republican primary results suggest that is a big issue for 2016 voters, the bureaucratic approach prevailed. The platform’s language was strengthened to express general opposition to trade policies that have stirred fervent opposition in industrialized states such as Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin. But proposals to add anti-TPP language to the document were rejected Saturday at the platform committee session in Orlando, as Clinton backers (and most uncommitted members of the committee) generally opposed the amendments, while Sanders backers supported them.
Votes on TPP amendments were among the most contentious during the two-day session that significantly reworked a draft document before recommending a more detailed platform for consideration at the 2016 party convention in Philadelphia. The Orlando session saw a good deal of cooperation on issues raised by the Sanders insurgency and mass movements that have sought to move the debate to the left. There were votes to include more explicit support of criminal-justice reform, to remove marijuana from the list of Schedule 1 drugs under the Controlled Substances Act, to crack down on monopolies and to tax the rich in order to “protect the earned pension benefits of Americans in multi-employer pension plans.”
One of the most significant amendment votes added to the platform explicit support for raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. The initial committee session on Friday night saw former Ohio state Senator Nina Turner, a key Sanders supporter, and Service Employees International Union president Mary Kay Henry, a key Clinton backer, cooperating to add language declaring that “We should raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over time and index it, give all Americans the ability to join a union regardless of where they work, and create new ways for workers to have power in the economy so every worker can earn at least $15 an hour.”