The Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced Monday that presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will be allotted five seats on the party’s 15-member platform committee, set to meet prior to the National Convention in July at Philadelphia.
The Platform Drafting Committee will set the party’s official policy agenda for the 2016 election, giving the presidential nominee a list of principles to campaign for against rival candidates.
By rule, the DNC chair has the authority to appoint all 15 members, but in an effort to unite the party behind one of two very different candidates, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz decided to let Clinton and Sanders choose a total of 11 of the seats in rough proportion to state delegate votes.
The move is somewhat unusual, if not unprecedented, and signals the DNC recognizes it will need Bernie Sanders’ supporters to vote for Clinton in November to win the election.
“This is unique,” said DNC rules committee co-chair James Roosevelt. “What it acknowledges is that the Democratic Party is committed to encompassing the broad range of views that Democrats have surfaced in this very substantive campaign between Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders.”
Sanders comments after the announcement were less politically correct, warning the DNC that if the convention is opened “to working-class people and young people [to] create the kind of dynamism the Democratic Party needs, it’s going to be messy . . . Democracy is not always nice and quiet and gentle but that is where the Democratic Party should go.”
Negotiations between DNC officials and the Sanders campaign had been in the works about a role in helping draft the official platform since earlier in May.
On Monday afternoon, Sanders announced his five choices for the committee: James Zogby, Palestinian rights advocate and president of the Arab American Institute; Dr. Cornel West, professor and social justice advocate; Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN); Bill McKibben, environmentalist author; and Deborah Parker, Native American rights activist.
The committee will be chaired by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), a Clinton surrogate chosen by Wasserman-Schultz.
For her part, Clinton selected Wendy Sherman, former State Department official; Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress; Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL); Carol Browner, former EPA Administrator; Paul Booth, executive assistant at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees trade union; and Ohio state Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati).
Rounding out the committee will be former Congressman Howard Berman of California; Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA); and Bonnie Schaefer, former CEO of Claire’s Stores — all chosen by Wasserman-Schultz.
While the official party platform is a non-binding document, the concession to Sanders represents an important step in solidifying the DNC’s commitment to progressive policies, reignited in 2008 with the nomination of Barack Obama.
“We believe that we will have the representation . . . to create a Democratic platform that reflects the views of millions of our supporters who want the party to address the needs of working families in this country”, Sanders said in a statement.
[Reuters] [Washington Post] [The Hill]