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Walkin’ the Planks: The DNC Platform Metamorphosis

by Brad Parker --


Peruse the following excerpts from the platform and policy positions of a state Democratic Party, presumptive nominee and the national committee and you will notice a thread of unremarkable but substantial importance: the movement from left to right in the process of drafting a national platform for the DNC.

When I quizzed the staff at the DNC, who were tasked with writing the draft platform language in its final form, they informed me that the main policy points were from Obama’s positions online. These were then modified by the subsequent hearings this past month. Many progressive Democrats had told me this was not the case. So, I did some research to see what was in fact the truth of the process.

First, progressive platform language, from state Democratic Party platforms and informal house meetings held around the nation, was rejected or marginalized at these hearings. Next, it appears that the liberal language of the Obama website was then watered down into the nominal conservative language that we are poised to vote on at the Denver convention. What was up? Who was promoting this meandering swoon? I believe the reason for this surge from left to right, from progressive to liberal to conservative is obvious - the DLC and corporate Cronies are still in control of the Democratic Party apparatus.

Rather than drone on about this observation - and chilling reality - I have provided a brief overview of three platforms: the California Democratic Party 2008 platform, the Barack Obama policy positions and the DNC draft platform planks on the Internet, communications, media and free speech. At the end of this post, I have also included excerpts from each of those papers for those who want to see the actual language. Read these excerpts carefully and you will divine the invisible hand of Crony at work.

In California, the largest state Democratic Party, we drafted and passed a communications and media plank, centered on the Internet, which provides a positive progressive and labor stance for all communications in America. This was one of the outcomes of the CDP Labor and Progressive caucuses working successfully together on a Net Neutrality resolution the year before and years of lobbying the CDP Platform committee for progressive language. I am a coauthor of both the resolution and the plank. Central to this plank is maintaining the Internet as a public utility, diversity of media ownership and protection against violations of the law, especially our First Amendment rights, by either the government or business interests. This is what a progressive platform plank should support and look like.

Now look at the Internet and media positions espoused by Barack Obama on his website. They come from a principled liberal candidate but fall short of progressive positions. Although strong on many points, they do not mention maintaining the Internet as a public utility. Even while calling for diversity of ownership, they refrain from explicit language affirming the citizen’s eminent domain over this new and vitally important communications media. Then, they spend some time mentioning the protection of children from Internet crime - laudable but not paramount.

Finally, we have the proposed media DNC Platform plank, to be ratified in Denver. In the mushy feel good language of the rest of the platform, they invoke the spirit of openness but fail to mention the distinction between public and private ownership of the Internet. They never mention diversity of media ownership. They devote almost half of the plank to protecting children from online crime, which though relevant is not the most pressing issue regarding media in America. While extolling broadband rollout for rural America they fail to include the same provisions for underserved or poor Americans. Their privacy language is vague and leaves out First Amendment guarantees. This plank is a microcosm of the macro platform and reveals the “change” from left to right, citizens to corporations, in stark terms. There is a reason for this metamorphosis - you guessed it - the DLC.

DLC consultants have always maintained that working class Americans will reject progressive policy that is specific and meaningful. They consistently recommend the “stand for nothing principle” as the best way to get candidates elected. Just when the public is clamoring for change they can believe in, the DLC ludicrously insists on the status quo. It is all a dodge and the last 16 years of election cycles prove its inefficacy.

Working class Americans are the artifice used by the DLC to promote Crony politics, government and business. That should come as no surprise to those who know that the DLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Crony corporate interests. Look at the private parties and elite events scheduled for Denver and you can see the platform that the DLC, firmly in control of the Democratic Party, stands on: whoever has the gold - makes the rules.

We must change this paradigm. Progressive policy is the way out of the swamp of the DLC Crony past. Apparently that memo has yet to reach the DNC Platform committee. Someone needs to make sure that Barack Obama gets it.

Platform and policy excerpts:

Internet, Free Speech and Communications: (from the California Democratic Party Platform 2008)

California Democrats, in order to promote vigorous free speech, a vibrant business community, and unfettered access to all information on the Internet, support policies to preserve an open, neutral and interconnected Internet. California Democrats strongly agree with recent rulings by the Federal Election Commission that political communications, including blogging, which take place independent of a political party, committee or candidate, receive a media exemption from campaign finance regulations. California Democrats further reaffirm their support of the right to free speech as expressed in the First Amendment, including the right to critique any elected official or comment on any and all public policy, whether during war or peace, without fear of reprisal.

To promote and support the Internet, Free Speech and Communications California Democrats will:

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• Support protections against any degradation or blocking of access to any websites or content on the Internet to which access is legal and guaranteed by the Constitution;

• Insure that consumers have the right to free email and that any and all communications will be protected from warrantless search and seizure as guaranteed in the Constitution;

• Encourage build-out of high speed networks to all homes and businesses so that everyone, especially rural and underserved areas, can access content of their choice and upload or download what they want on the Internet as a public utility maintained by union workers;

• Establish and secure ownership limits on private sector mass media to encourage and provide more cultural diversity, while protecting the openness, accessibility and integrity of the Internet as a public media resource for all Americans, regardless of income.

Barack Obama's Plan: (from his website)

Ensure the Full and Free Exchange of Information through an Open Internet and Diverse Media Outlets

Protect the Openness of the Internet: A key reason the Internet has been such a success is because it is the most open network in history. It needs to stay that way. Barack Obama strongly supports the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet. Users must be free to access content, to use applications, and to attach personal devices. They have a right to receive accurate and honest information about service plans. But these guarantees are not enough to prevent network providers from discriminating in ways that limit the freedom of expression on the Internet. Because most Americans only have a choice of only one or two broadband carriers, carriers are tempted to impose a toll charge on content and services, discriminating against websites that are unwilling to pay for equal treatment. This could create a two-tier Internet in which websites with the best relationships with network providers can get the fastest access to consumers, while all competing websites remain in a slower lane. Such a result would threaten innovation, the open tradition and architecture of the Internet, and competition among content and backbone providers. It would also threaten the equality of speech through which the Internet has begun to transform American political and cultural discourse. Barack Obama supports the basic principle that network providers should not be allowed to charge fees to privilege the content or applications of some web sites and Internet applications over others. This principle will ensure that the new competitors, especially small or non-profit speakers, have the same opportunity as incumbents to innovate on the Internet and to reach large audiences. Obama will protect the Internet’s traditional openness to innovation and creativity and ensure that it remains a platform for free speech and innovation that will benefit consumers and our democracy.

Encourage Diversity in Media Ownership: Barack Obama believes that the nation’s rules ensuring diversity of media ownership are critical to the public interest. Unfortunately, over the past several years, the Federal Communications Commission has promoted the concept of consolidation over diversity. Barack Obama believes that providing opportunities for minority-owned businesses to own radio and television stations is fundamental to creating the diverse media environment that federal law requires and the country deserves and demands. As president, he will encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media, promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation’s spectrum. An Obama presidency will promote greater coverage of local issues and better responsiveness by broadcasters to the communities they serve.

Protect Our Children While Preserving the First Amendment: By making information freely available from untold numbers of sources, the Internet and more traditional media outlets have a huge influence on our children.

A Connected America (from the DNC Platform Committee DRAFT – 08/07/08)

In the 21st century, our world is more intertwined than at any time in human history. This new connectedness presents us with untold opportunities for innovation, but also new challenges. We will protect the Internet’s traditional openness to innovation and creativity and ensure that it remains a dynamic platform for free speech, innovation, and creativity. We will implement a national broadband strategy, especially in rural areas, that enables every American household, school, library and hospital to connect to a world-class communications infrastructure. We will rededicate our nation to ensuring that all Americans have access to broadband and the skills to use it effectively. In an increasingly technology-rich, knowledge-based economy, connectivity is a key part of the solution to many of our most important challenges: job creation, economic growth, energy, health care, and education. We will establish a Chief Technology Officer for the nation, to ensure we use technology to enhance the functioning, transparency, and expertise of government, including establishing a national interoperable public safety communications network to help first responders at the local, state and national level communicate with one another during a crisis.

We will toughen penalties, increase enforcement resources, and spur private sector cooperation with law enforcement to identify and prosecute those who exploit the Internet to try to harm children. We will encourage more educational content on the Web and in our media. We will give parents the tools and information they need to manage (in ways fully consistent with the First Amendment) what their children see on television and the Internet. We will strengthen privacy protections in the digital age and will harness the power of technology to hold government and business accountable for violations of personal privacy.


by Brad Parker

Brad Parker is an award winning artist, songwriter, producer and musician. He has recorded, toured and produced hits in North America, Europe and Asia. Parker owns Indie label Riozen records and is a co-founder of “”. Brad is a prolific political writer and speaker as well. Parker is very involved with Democratic political organizations including: President, Valley Democrats United, Vice President, Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, Platform Committee of the California Democratic Party and Delegate, CDP Central Committee from the 42nd Assembly District.

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