As the Democratic Convention kicks off virtually today, I could not help having a tad bit of remorse because I had planned to attend the Convention in Wisconsin this year to cover it for both this blog, in my duties as a writer for The Christian Recorder, and my two new podcasts: “Hobbservation Point” and “Steel Sharpens Steel,” both of which can be downloaded via Apple Podcasts and Spotify, among other hosting platforms.
Resigned to joining the rest of the press corps as a virtual correspondent, step one on day one is to answer a question that I see posed quite a bit in social and traditional media comments, which is: “what will Joe Biden and Kamala Harris do for Black people?”
While the simple answer is “quite a bit,” the more pedantic answer is found by delving into the 2020 Democratic Party Platform, one that was submitted last month and will be ratified during this week’s convention.
Now, a party’s platform is not binding, but it does serve as a guide to what the party’s potential presidential administration and Congressional bloc will pursue during the next four years. This summer, Democrats rolled up their sleeves to produce their guide, while the Republican Party chose to readopt their 2016 platform.
So, as to the “what’s in it for Black people” question, much like prior Democratic platforms, a Biden-Harris administration would work to secure greater access to jobs, a $15 minimum wage, and protections of workers; a renewed focus on civil rights, including protections for LGBTQ and Transgender Americans, criminal justice reform, and a healthier America.
More specifically, the platform purports to push for:
* Protecting Americans’ Civil Rights
* Achieving Racial Justice and Equity
* Protecting Women’s Rights
* Protecting LGBTQ+ Rights
* Protecting Disability Rights
* Honoring Indigenous Tribal Nations
* Ending Violence Against Women
* Ending the Epidemic of Gun Violence
* Supporting Faith and Service
* Supporting Press Freedom
While broad topics, these headings would address concerns that the majority of Black voters have about jobs amid the current economic collapse due to the Covid-19 pandemic, social justice due to the killings of Black men, women, and children by the police and vigilantes before and during the pandemic, and access to health care and insurance, factors that have led to disproportionate Black deaths to Covid-19 throughout this deadly pandemic.
The platform also pushes back against what can only be described as a general Republican affinity for honoring slave owners, Jim Crow proponents, and purveyors of Manifest Destiny that wiped out vast numbers of Native Americans. A Democratic push back that while arguably symbolic, hits hard at the root of systemic racial oppression–which is a lack of respect for the lives and livelihoods of non-whites in ages past–and today.
As to the health care battles to watch at this week’s Comvention, Democratic “Squad” member Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) signaled what could be a protracted virtual fight between Progressive and Moderates on health care. Tlaib tweeted that she voted “no” on the platform this past Saturday because it does not include a cogent plan for a single-payer health care system. Said Tlaib, “I constantly hear from constituents demanding we push for a single-payer system and away from this for-profit system that is leaving people to suffer and die just because they cannot afford health care.”
While Rep. Tlaib’s comments garnered headlines, the simple fact is that many Progressive Democrats harbor the same fears, particularly those who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders for president–ones who view both Biden and Harris with raised eyebrows on this issue. And while the proposed platform is clear that low to no-cost coverage for all Americans is the ideal, it falls short of pushing for a single payer system, instead calling for the addition of a “public option” to the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a “Obamacare.”
One could credibly argue that the very fact that enhancing coverage is in the proposed Democratic platform, while it is only discussed in the form of “repeal and replace Obamacare” by Republicans who have shown an eagerness to repeal–but rarely mention how to replace–leaves the former more to the advantage of Black voters than the latter.
The proposed Democratic platform also includes language that opposes President Trump’s use of federal troops in Portland and other cities across America during the so-called “Social Justice Summer” that erupted after the murder of George Floyd, greater strictures on climate control and support for environmental protection, ones that would include a push to make American power plants completely carbon neutral by 2035 while adding approximately 500 million solar panels and 60,000 wind turbines to generate electricity within the next decade.
So, as we settle in to watch a group of speakers tonight that will include Sen. Bernie Sanders, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and most prominently, former First Lady Michelle Obama, may we also prepare to pay close attention to what the final version of the Democratic Platform will look like in the days ahead!
As always, stay tuned for news analysis here at Hobbservation Point all week…