It has been two months now since I traveled to Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention as New Hampshire’s only superdelegate supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders. What I saw there was disheartening at times, thrilling at other times. In the end, the overwhelming feeling I took away with me from Philadelphia was one of determination.
The previous months of vigorous and, at times, contentious campaigning by both candidates lead the convention to adopting the most progressive Democratic platform in two generations, one which will better serve those hundreds of millions of Americans who have been left behind during times of prosperity and suffering even more during hard times.
Since FDR, the Democratic Party has always been more coalition than monolith. This year, under the leadership of Sen. Sanders, this coalition has drafted an agenda to unite Americans of good faith, built on the gains made by President Obama; an agenda which will begin to truly address income inequality and rebuild our economy in a way that will guarantee financial opportunity and security for those currently struggling today just to get by and often falling further and further behind.
As a superdelegate supporting Sen. Sanders, I hoped to play a positive role before and during the convention by representing the aspirations of the 65 percent of New Hampshire voters who cast a ballot for Bernie in the January primary, especially the masses of young voters drawn to his message.
It was truly inspiring to see all the delegates, despite the disagreements and fissures of the previous months and in the early hours of the convention between supporters of both candidates, finally and enthusiastically come together in support of our presidential nominee and of the final platform agreed upon by all members of the platform committee in Philadelphia the week-end before the convention. It is an agreement that was the result of tough-minded negotiations, not tough talk, between Secretary Clinton's supporters and Sen. Sanders' allies. What emerged was not a vague statement of principals but an ambitious and pragmatic program of policy proposals offering all Americans a clear way forward to greater opportunity and economic security.
To me, the platform’s most important policies are (1) significantly reducing tax breaks and loopholes so that corporations, financial institutions, and the wealthy contribute fairly and honorably to sustain and grow an economy for everyone; (2) ensuring the ability of families to support themselves both financially and emotionally without being ruined by an uncaring economy; (3) making higher education and/or job training affordable and available to all of our young people; and (4) providing access to high-quality health care for every American.
Here they are, as stated in the platform, and I quote:
Income inequality: "At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, we believe the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations must pay their fair share of taxes. Democrats will claw back tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, eliminate tax breaks for big oil and gas companies, and crackdown on inversions and other methods companies use to dodge their tax responsibilities" and,
"(T)he current minimum wage is a starvation wage and must be increased to a living wage. No one who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty. We believe that Americans should earn at least $15 an hour and have the right to form or join a union and will work in every way we can…to reach this goal."
Family leave/child care: "Democrats will…finally enact national paid family and medical leave insurance policies by passing a family and medical leave act that would provide all workers at least 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a (family member)," and
"We will increase investments to make quality childcare more affordable, boost wages for childcare workers, and support (those) providing care for aging relatives or those with disabilities."
Debt-free college: "Democrats are unified in their strong belief that every student should be able to go to college debt-free, and working families should not have to pay any tuition to go to public colleges and universities."
Medicare at 55/Public option in ACA: "Democrats will never falter in our generations-long fight to guarantee health care as a fundamental right for every American…should be able to access public coverage through a public option, and those over 55 should be able to opt in to Medicare."
These are ambitious goals and represent a considerable change in the relationship between the federal government and hundreds of millions of Americans. It is the responsibility of Democrats to make this platform a reality through legislation and make the significant contributions that Sen. Sanders' campaign brought to the discussions a fact of life for all of us. I am determined to help make this a reality.
Finally, in Secretary Clinton we have a nominee as prepared to be president as any in living memory. Clearly her work in the Senate and in President Obama's cabinet qualify her for the presidency and her time as first lady has given her the unique experience of living in and working at the center of the storm in the White House. Additionally, with Democratic gains in both Senate and House, Sen. Sanders chairing a powerful committee, and the platform commitments in the hands of someone with Secretary Clinton's experience and competence, we have an opportunity to change the future for the better for miliions of Americans and their families.
For these reasons, I urge not only Democrats, but all Americans young and old, to join me in working until the November election to make sure we hold on to the White House and take back the US House and Senate as well as voting for Democrats up and down the ticket here in New Hampshire. That is the only way we can defeat Donald Trump and keep right wing extremists from taking over our government at every level.
State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark is a Democrat from Portsmouth.