A First Look at the Democratic Party PlatformExpert Opinion August 15th, 2008
Drew Bennett, Former Reporter, BroadbandBreakfast.com
WASHINGTON, August 15 – The principle author of the Democratic Party Platform, Karen Kornbluh, and Barack Obama’s senior foreign policy adviser, Susan Rice, were on-hand today at the New America Foundation’s DC office to discuss the official “Party Platform” policy document released today.
The official Platform, which will serve as the definitive framework for policy objectives at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Denver, was introduced by Ms. Kornbluh, who reviewed some of the key issues considered and offered some insights regarding the drafting and decision making process for the Democrats. Ms. Rice followed-up this presentation with a more granular analysis of the foreign policy section of the Platform.
Some of the key themes reiterated by both of today’s disscussants:
*Unity: Ms. Kornbluh described the drafting process, which was shared equally by advisers to Senators Obama and Clinton, as a perfectly smooth and cordial one that produced strong policy statements under a tight deadline.
*Forward-Looking: Both speakers lauded the final product for its positive and progressive outlook on key issues, best summed up by Ms. Rice as a vision for solving 21st Century problems with 21st Century tools and frames.
*Renewal: The Platform is being held-up as a vision for American renewal that will be spear-headed through a litany of domestic reforms in health care, infrastructure, civil society, and government transparency to name a few.
Rice and Kornbluh both noted that the Platform is more of a vision than a prescription and that specific policies are addressed or will be addressed through other statements, documents and actions. However, the document makes clear what the Democrats hope will be the focus of the 2008 campaign: reviving America’s domestic economy and restoring America’s role and reputation abroad. Section I of the Platform is titled “Renewing The American Dream” and it focuses on the economy and key domestic issues like health care, manufacturing, education, and infrastructure (worth noting: the 2004 Platform lead-off with foreign policy concerns).
If today’s presentation of the Democratic vision is any sign of what’s to come, you can expect the speeches in Denver to focus on domestic economic issues as much as possible. And expect to hear a lot more about investment in infrastructure. The meme of an economic stimulus plan focused on infrastructure renewal has definite traction in Democratic circles and was highlighted repeatedly today by Karen Kornbluh. She also noted that a 21st century vision of infrastructure renewal means more than just bridges and roads.
This leads to another topic on which the Democrats hope to flex their domestic policy muscles: technology. Kornbluh mentioned that technology policy and technology as a tool resurfaces throughout the document and that the party is concerned with the changes brought on by a “wired economy” and also considers the role of technology in democracy.
When it comes to broadband infrastructure, many of these issues collide and Kornbluh states that “countries around the world seem to be solving problems that really stymie us, including broadband…”
Is broadband rising in the ranks of policy issues that will be a topic of the 2008 race? If the Democrats have their way, it might. The Party Platform makes it clear that the Democrats believe they have the upper-hand on issues integral to broadband policy, like the economy, America’s global competitiveness, infrastructure, and technology. Tough to argue with the latter, but it will also be quite a challenge to focus attention on how much more technologically adept Barack Obama is when there is news of international conflicts interrupting the webcast in Denver.
The Party Platform does make it clear that the Democrats are looking forward to framing the Presidential race in terms of who has the best plan for renewing America and they are hoping to get the jump on John McCain and develop some concrete solutions to domestic problems. An economic stimulus through investment in infrastructure, including broadband infrastructure, could be one approach worth running with.
[Thanks to The Washington Note for link to the final Platform document]