With a common goal of booting President Trump from the White House in November’s general election, the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party mostly presented an image of unity last week at their nominating convention.
But there was one moment during the four-day Democratic National Convention where progressives protested in large numbers – over the party’s platform.
While it’s described as the most progressive platform in the Democratic Party’s history and pushes the party to left on many issues - including health care reform, combating climate change, trade deals, and fighting racial injustice -- the 92-page document doesn’t specifically endorse "Medicare-for-all" or the Green New Deal, two of the top proposals pushed by the party’s progressive wing.
Democratic National Committee (DNC) officials announced last Tuesday that the platform was passed by convention delegates and adopted. But despite inquiries by Fox News and other news organizations, they didn’t release the roll-call vote on the platform for days.
The tally is now out -- and reflects a major divide among delegates.
The DNC revealed over the weekend that 3,562 delegates voted to approve the platform, while a total of 1,069 voted no, and 87 abstained.
The number of convention delegates who voted no is roughly the same as the number of delegates pledged to progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The populist lawmaker and "Medicare-for-all" champion was the last remaining rival to Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the primaries before suspending his White House bid and endorsing the former vice president in April.
Party officials apparently released the vote totals after pressure from Sanders delegates.
“We were upset. There was pushback. There were emails and phone calls,” a Sanders convention delegate told Fox News.
The delegate, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely, emphasized that the DNC “should have released the vote during the convention.”
The 2020 platform had its genesis in the six policy task forces set up this spring by Biden and Sanders. While Sanders said he would support the final platform document, hundreds of his convention delegates announced before the convention that they would vote against the platform as part of a symbolic protest.
Two of them included high-profile members of Congress.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, a member of the quartet of first-term progressive congresswomen of color known as The Squad, touted days before the convention that she voted against the party platform, tweeting that “as a party, we must push for a future where every resident has the ability to thrive. That means we need a platform that works to rid our society of oppression and greed. Unfortunately, in my view this platform does not do enough.”
And progressive Rep. Ro Khanna of California, who was a Sanders campaign national co-chair, also voted against the platform.
“The premise of our nation is every person has dignity,” Khanna told Fox News on Tuesday. “Our health care should not depend on what job you have or whether you are employed. During this pandemic, we need to commit to extending Medicare to every American. This has been part of our platform since 1980 and should be part of it again.”
Fox News reached out to the Biden campaign for reaction to the platform vote protest, but they declined to comment.
Trump campaign deputy press secretary Ken Farnaso argued that “Biden has already embraced socialism and it’s still not enough for the left-wing extremists in his party. This week, Americans will witness a unified Republican Party standing alongside President Trump’s America First agenda. The choice couldn’t be more clear this November."
Four years ago, there was no roll-call vote on the Democrats' party platform. The adoption of the platform came through a voice vote by the Democratic delegates during a convention that was held in Philadelphia’s professional basketball and hockey arena. But the 2016 Democratic convention was rocked by numerous protests by Sanders delegates and supporters, after the senator narrowly lost the nomination race to Hillary Clinton during his first White House run. Many Sanders delegates thought the primary race was rigged in favor of Clinton.
There were no similar protests four years later. But due to health concerns over large crowds amid the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Democratic convention was a nearly virtual confab, which prevented a traditional voice vote on the platform. Instead, delegates voted over a series of weeks, filling out ballots that were collected by state party chairs and sent to national party officials. The ballots were counted all at once, two days before the start of last week’s convention.
There won’t be similar drama regarding the platform at this week’s Republican National Convention. As Fox News reported in June, the delegates convening in Charlotte for Monday’s abbreviated session were not voting on a 2020 party platform or even re-adopting the 2016 platform. Since there’s no convening of a platform committee, the 2016 platform will remain in effect.
In a statement Sunday, the Republican National Committee announced that instead of unveiling a new platform, the party will "continue to enthusiastically support the President's America-first agenda."
The Trump campaign on Sunday released a brief list of President Trump’s second-term priorities. The release – titled “Fighting For You” – among other things focused on tackling COVID-19, defending the police, education, illegal immigration and workers rights, health care, relations with China, and an America First foreign policy.
Taking aim at the Trump list, Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield on Monday called it “a couple of pages of bullets that offered no clarity about how they’re going to pursue any of these goals. ... There’s not a lot there for Americans to feel confident about it in terms of real meaningful plans or his ability to get them done.”