By Delaying His Endorsement, Sanders Helped Craft 'The Most Progressive' Platform In Party History

Jul 13, 2016

Although Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was not successful in winning the party's nomination, many political observers believe the Sanders campaign has had a big impact on the drafting of the Democratic Party's platform. And Sanders says the proposed platform is "the most progressive" in the history of the Democratic Party.

There have been calls for Sanders to endorse Clinton ever since Clinton won the California primary at the beginning of June.

But Sanders resisted and vowed to continue his work to transform the Democratic Party and to have a major influence on the drafting of the party platform.

Middlebury College political science professor Matt Dickinson says Sanders has had a lot of success with the platform.

Dickinson notes that the platform includes provisions to develop a $15 minimum wage, free tuition at public colleges for middle-income families, and a major expansion of the Federal Community Health Care system.

"For those critics who argued that Sanders should have got out of this race a month ago or six weeks ago this validates his decision to stick it out," Dickinson explains. "He did get concessions. Now in part we have to realize that they overlapped already -- Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders -- on a number of issues so she didn't have to go that far in making these compromises."

Dickinson says the Clinton campaign was also able to have an influence on the platform policies.

"The only thing that I think Hillary Clinton did not want was anything that could be used against her in the 2016 general election campaign," says Dickerson. "So nothing that looked like a tax increase, so she wasn't going to support a carbon tax."

"For those critics who argued that Sanders should have got out of this race a month ago or six weeks ago this validates his decision to stick it out. He did get concessions." — Matt Dickinson, Middlebury College professor

Sanders was not as successful on trade issues. He did not win the fight to have the platform oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement.

UVM political science professor Garrison Nelson says that's because the trade deal is one of President Obama's top priorities.

"This is a Democratic convention filled with lots and lots of lots of Barack Obama supporters and there's no intention to embarrass Barack Obama by voiding one of his chief proposals," said Nelson.

Rep. Peter Welch is a Vermont superdelegate who supported Sanders.

He says Sanders' campaign has had an enormous impact on the presidential race and on the Democratic Party itself.

"He's had a huge impact. He's not only had an impact on the Democratic platform giving it a singular focus on addressing the incredible economic challenges for working and middle class Americans, he's had a huge impact on how you do politics," Welch said.

And Welch says Sanders' ability to raise an enormous amount of money in small-dollar donations could have a long-lasting impact on this country's political system.

"He's had a huge impact. He's not only had an impact on the Democratic platform giving it a singular focus on addressing the incredible economic challenges for working and middle class Americans, he's had a huge impact on how you do politics." — Rep. Peter Welch

"He raised over $200 million in $27 contributions and he's demonstrated that you can have a powerful voice with grass-roots support," Welch says, "and in fact, I think Bernie Sanders has had more of an impact on the Democratic Party than any of the other candidates."

Welch says he understands that some of Sanders' supporters will have a hard time embracing the candidacy of Sec. Clinton. But Welch thinks Sanders' strong endorsement of Clinton shows how important it is for the Democratic Party to be unified in November.

"I think for those supporters of Bernie," Welch says, "when they remember that Bernie had to deal with the same disappointment they might feel and he had to make a decision that was based on what's going to best for our country ... it's going to hard for them but I think they'll do what Bernie did."

Although it has yet to be formally announced, it's expected that Sanders will be given one of the prime time speaking slots at the Democratic Convention later this month.