Now that voting is over and Bernie Sanders has all but endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, the only drama left in the once sort-of contentious Democratic primary is of the backroom variety: Sanders has staked his revolution on the writing of the party’s platform. And it doesn’t seem to be going very well.
Writing in Politico, Sanders delegate Bill McKibben argues that everyone—representatives from Sanders and Clinton, as well as the DNC—more or less agrees on what the most pressing issues are. They just won’t commit to doing anything about those issues. Here’s McKibben:
We all agreed that America should be operating on 100 percent clean energy by 2050, but then I proposed, in one amendment after another, a series of ways we might actually get there. A carbon tax? Voted down 7-6 (one of the DNC delegates voted with each side). A ban on fracking? Voted down 7-6. An effort to keep fossils in the ground, at least on federal land? Voted down 7-6. A measure to mandate that federal agencies weigh the climate impact of their decisions? Voted down 7-6. Even a plan to keep fossil fuel companies from taking private land by eminent domain, voted down 7-6. (We did, however, reach unanimous consent on more bike paths!)
“The Clinton campaign is at this point rhetorically committed to taking on our worst problems,” he continues, “but not willing to say how.”
First, the grain of salt: McKibben is representing Sanders, and going to the media about these difficulties is transparent politicking—his salvo is clearly meant to put pressure on Clinton’s negotiators. And yet, it is a rare window into the platform-writing process, and a compelling one at that. Clinton’s team seems stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, they have every incentive to quickly bring Sanders into the fold and to put the primary behind them, to focus on the general election. On the other, they seem to be extremely wary of committing to issues that could be contentious in that general election, like a carbon tax or a fracking ban. Hence, gridlock.