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ICYMI: The Democratic Platform’s Sharp Left Turn

- July 13, 2016

“The Party That Hillary Clinton Will Lead Into Battle This Fall Is Not Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party”

Excerpts from The Wall Street Journal

By: William A. Galston

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

“…Changes in party platforms from one election to the next reveal shifts in thinking and—even more—the balance of power within the base as new groups surge and established forces give way. That is why the 2016 Democratic platform is so significant…

“The party that Hillary Clinton will lead into battle this fall is not Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party. In important respects it is not even Barack Obama’s Democratic Party. It is a party animated by the frustrations of the Obama years and reshaped by waves of economic and social activism…

“[T]he draft is truly remarkable—for example, its near-silence on economic growth. The uninformed reader would not learn that the pace of recovery from the Great Recession has been anemic by postwar standards, or that productivity gains have slowed to a crawl over the past five years, or that firms have been reluctant to invest in new productive capacity. Rather, the platform draft’s core narrative is inequality, the injustice that inequality entails, and the need to rectify it through redistribution…

“Four years ago, the Democratic platform contained a detailed section on ‘1st Century Government,’ including a discussion of cost-effective regulatory reform, but this section finds no parallel—indeed, barely an echo—in the 2016 draft … Instead, this year’s platform will be suffused with proposals to expand the government’s reach and cost—and with confidence that today’s government is up to the job…

“Another notable feature of the 2016 draft is its intensified social liberalism. The 2012 platform declared that the death penalty must not be ‘arbitrary’; this year, the platform will demand—for the first time ever—the death penalty’s abolition. The 2012 platform called for the reasonable regulation of guns but pledged to preserve ‘Americans’ Second Amendment Right to own and bear firearms.’ There is no reference to the Second Amendment this time.

“Calling for ‘constitutionally sound, evidence-based partnerships’ with faith-based institutions, the 2012 platform declared that ‘there is no conflict between supporting faith-based institutions and respecting our Constitution.’ Such language appears nowhere in the 2016 draft…

“In this document, Hillary Clinton has made her peace with the Democratic Party as she found it in this tumultuous political year. Whether she would be able to lead a badly divided country on this basis—or whether she would choose to do so—is another matter.”

Read the full column here.

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