‘Most progressive in history’? Bernie Sanders seeks to push DNC platform further left

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. © Lucas Jackson
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is prepared for one last fight at the Democratic National Convention. He hopes to use his tireless support base along with his political allies to make progressive changes to the party’s platform.

In an interview with USA Today on Tuesday, Sanders said he will dig in his heels and take his fight to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in July. The presidential candidate has yet to officially concede to the party’s presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton.

Sanders plans to work on the labor, environmental, and human rights platforms to make amendments to the positions proposed by the 15-member Platform Drafting Committee. The document was approved by the committee on Saturday, and Sanders said the current draft has “a lot of very good and progressive” provisions.

However, he hopes to push the platform even further to the left. Sanders has a relatively unique position in this election cycle. With about 45 percent of the pledged delegates from state primaries and caucuses behind him, Sanders has the ability to file “minority reports,” an official disagreement with the positions held by the majority of delegates at the convention.

Although he did not win enough delegates to guarantee the nomination in the primaries, he can dangle the threat of running as an independent and potentially split the vote for Democrats. However, that is unlikely as Sanders has said he will vote for Clinton.

Nevertheless, he still hopes to make a few changes to the Democratic Party before he throws in the towel, demanding “clear language” on minimum wage increases for example. The current provision is “vague,” Sanders says.

Sanders is also pushing for the party to distance itself from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) that many believe would undermine democracy. While Clinton’s campaign has voiced opposition to the TPP as well, Sanders claims that representatives from Clinton’s campaign are worried about embarrassing President Barack Obama, who spearheaded the TPP.

Well, I don’t want to embarrass the president either. He’s a friend,” Sanders said. “But in a democratic society, people can have disagreements.

Lastly, Sanders is hoping to make climate change a hardline issue for the party. He claims that the drafting committee “did not do a good job” of addressing it in the provisions. He plans to revive amendments that would ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and aim to reduce carbon emissions by levying a tax on them. He called the carbon tax “essential if we’re going to transform our energy system.

Sanders acknowledged that the platform drafting committee had made some headway by calling for an expansion of Social Security, strengthening the country’s infrastructure through investment, abolishing capital punishment, breaking up a number of banks, and closing various corporate tax loopholes.

I think we will succeed in having the most progressive Democratic platform in history, but what is more important is making sure that platform becomes implemented,” he said.