by Joe Carter

During the recent Democratic National Convention the delegates voted to adopt their party’s platform, a document that outlines the statement of principles and policies that the party has decided it will support.

Why should Christians care about a document that few non-politicians will ever read? Because of the influence the two major party platforms have on public policy. While the platform is not binding on the presidential nominee or any other politicians, political scientists have found that over the past 30 years lawmakers in Congress tend to vote in line with their party’s platform: 89 percent of the time for Republicans and 79 percent of the time for Democrats. For this reason we should be aware of what is proposed in these documents and how they may affect the welfare of our nation (Jeremiah 29:7).

This article will provide, without commentary, an outline of the Democratic platform as it relates to several social issues. Every statement is either a direct quote or a summary of the platform’s position. (Last week, we examined the GOP party’s platform and stance on these and related issues.)

Bioethics Issues

Supports appointing judges who defend abortion rights.

Opposes efforts to limit or prohibit taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood.

Opposes any laws that limit abortion.

Supports the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds from being used for abortion services.

Supports free abortion and contraceptives for all women.

Supports “sexual and reproductive health and rights around the globe.”

Opposes the “global gag rule” and the Helms Amendment that bars American assistance to abortion throughout the developing world.

Criminal Justice Reform

Supports reforming mandatory minimum sentences and closing private prisons and detention centers.

Supports working with police chiefs to invest in training for officers on issues such as de-escalation and the creation of national guidelines for the appropriate use of force.

Encourages better police-community relations.

Supports requiring the use of body cameras.

Opposes the use of “weapons of war that have no place in our communities.”

Opposes racial profiling that targets individuals solely on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.

Supports a requirement to make the Department of Justice investigate all “questionable or suspicious police-involved shootings.”

Supports states and localities “who help make those investigations and prosecutions more transparent, including through reforming the grand jury process.”

Supports assisting states in providing a system of public defense that is adequately resourced and meets American Bar Association standards.

Supports reforming the civil asset forfeiture system to “protect people and remove perverse incentives for law enforcement to ‘police for a profit.’”

Supports removing barriers to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter society by “banning the box” (persuading employers to remove from their hiring applications the check box that asks if applicants have a criminal record). Supports executive action to “ban the box for federal employers and contractors, so applicants have an opportunity to demonstrate their qualifications before being asked about their criminal records.”

Supports expanding re-entry programs, and restoring voting rights for felons.

Supports, whenever possible, prioritizing prevention and treatment over incarceration when tackling addiction and substance use disorder.

Endorses the use of effective models of drug courts, veterans’ courts, and other diversionary programs that “seek to give nonviolent offenders opportunities for rehabilitation as opposed to incarceration.”

Supports abolishing the death penalty.

Discrimination and Racial Issues

Supports ending discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

Supports promoting “racial justice through fair, just, and equitable governing of all public-serving institutions and in the formation of public policy.”

Supports removing the Confederate battle flag from public properties, “recognizing that it is a symbol of our nation’s racist past that has no place in our present or our future.”

Calls for a “societal transformation to make it clear that black lives matter and that there is no place for racism in our country.”

Supports U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Supports adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Drugs and Drug Abuse

Supports the federal government removing marijuana from the list of “Schedule 1” federal controlled substances and to appropriately regulate it, “providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization.”

Supports states that want to decriminalize marijuana or provide access to medical marijuana.

Supports policies that will allow more research on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to “allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty.”

Supports expanding “access to prevention and treatment, supporting recovery, helping community organizations, and promoting better practices by prescribers.”

Supports expanding access to care for addiction services, and ensuring that insurance coverage is “equal to that for any other health conditions.”
Education

Supports making community college free for all students.

Supports the federal government pushing “more colleges and universities to take quantifiable, affirmative steps in increasing the percentages of racial and ethnic minority, low-income, and first-generation students they enroll and graduate.”

Supports “ensuring the strength of our Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions.”

Supports refinancing of current student loan debt.

For much more…

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August 2016
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