Wednesday, 25 May 2016
Hillary picks Neera Tanden for panel
Indian-American Neera Tanden, president of the Centre for American Progress (CAP) and a long-time associate of presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, has been nominated to the Democratic platform committee that will draft the party’s policy agenda for approval by the national convention in July.
Among the six nominees of Ms. Clinton’s 15-member platform committee, Ms. Tanden has been the policy director for Ms. Clinton’s campaign in 2008 and also the director of domestic policy for the Obama-Joe Biden presidential campaign in 2012.
In an unprecedented move, the party’s leadership has allowed Ms. Clinton’s challenger, Bernie Sanders, to nominate five members. Democratic National Committee Chairperson Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has nominated four members.
Deviation from the norm
In normal course, the nominee appoints all the members. The deviation this year is to accommodate the views of Mr. Sanders, who has made it clear that his support for Ms. Clinton in the general election will be dependent on the platform that she adopts.
Getting the Sanders voters on her side will be crucial for Ms. Clinton’s general election prospects, even as her Republican challenger Donald Trump appears close on her heels.
“With five good members on the platform-drafting committee we will be in a very strong position to fight for an economy that works for all of our people, not just the one per cent; to fight to break up the large banks on Wall Street… We will be in a position to fight for a carbon tax… We will be in a position to fight to have the United States join the rest of the industrialised world in guaranteed health care as a right,” said Mr. Sanders.
Representatives of both candidates and the party leadership agreed upon the composition of the committee after days of negotiations.
There is a host of issues on which Mr. Sanders and Ms. Clinton have divergent views, prominent among them being: Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour; international trade agreements; U.S.’s military interventions abroad; energy policy; and campaign finance system.
Though Ms. Clinton has revised her own original positions on many of these issues, reconciling them with those of Mr. Sanders will be a tough balancing act. The platform committee is a possible forum to achieve that.
Among Mr. Sanders’s nominees is James Zogby, an advocate for Palestinian rights. Mr. Zogby currently co-chairs the party’s resolutions committee, and his inclusion on the platform committee indicates Mr. Sanders’s push for a more balanced approach towards the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Mr. Sanders, himself a Jew, was the only presidential candidate to skip the annual meeting of the powerful American-Israel Public Affairs Committee recently. Ms. Clinton had said at the event that the onus was on Palestinians to seek peace with Israel.
Meanwhile, Ms. Clinton has turned down Mr. Sanders’s demand for another debate in California before the State primary on June 7.
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