Party platforms matter: not because they are litmus tests for candidates or get much attention on cable news, but because over the long term they help to guide the direction of the party. The process of developing a platform can be a valuable opportunity for grassroots activists to communicate their priorities to party leaders. The Democratic Party's platform development process is just now kicking into high gear with the appointment of veteran political operative Andy Grossman as National Platform Director and, perhaps surprisingly given his recent controversial remarks criticizing the Obama campaign's attacks on Romney's Bain record, Newark Mayor Cory Booker as one of the Platform Committee co-chairs. There will surely be some interesting debates heading into the Convention this September, as activists press timid party leaders for more aggressive stances on a host of progressive priorities. Should the Democratic Party include support of gay marriage in its 2012 party platform? Should it include support for a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United? Support for public financing of congressional elections? Non-military options for dealing with Iran? A moratorium on fracking?
Here is a statement released in the last week by the DNC and the Obama campaign about how the platform will be drafted and how "rank-and-file" activists can (hopefully) influence the process:
The Democratic National Committee and Obama for America announced the 2012 Platform process. In the weeks leading up to the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, Democrats from across the country will come together to draft a Platform that outlines Democratic priorities and highlights the President's vision for the middle class and his efforts to create an economy that's built to last.
A national hearing will take place July 27-29, 2012 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The hearing will include an opportunity for the public to make presentations before the Platform Drafting Committee. The Committee will then meet to draft the 2012 Democratic Platform which will ultimately be used as a working document by the full Platform Committee, chaired by Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy (Ret.).
The Platform Drafting Committee will be chaired by former Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio. Named to serve as members on the committee are former U.S. Representative Tony Coelho, Tino Cuellar, U.S. Representative Barney Frank, Donna Harris-Aikens, Colin Kahl, Nancy Keenan, Heather Kendall Miller, Thea Lee, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee, Susan Ness, Mayor Michael Nutter, Carlos Odio, former U.S. Representative Robert Wexler and Christen Young. Serving as ex-officio members are Governor Deval Patrick, DNC Secretary Alice Germond, and Tom Wheeler.
The Committee is accepting requests to testify and written testimony via online portal at www.democrats.org/platform. All submissions must be received prior to 5pm EST on Friday, July, 20, 2012 and will be provided to the Drafting Committee.
The full Platform Committee will meet August 10-12, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. At this meeting, members will discuss the draft Platform and will have the opportunity to submit new proposed amendments to the draft, which need to be approved by a majority of the Committee voting and present. The Platform will then be presented to Convention delegates in Charlotte.
The full Platform Committee will be chaired by Mayor Cory Booker and Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy (Ret.). Andrew Grossman will serve as National Platform Director.
In addition to the Platform Committee, the Convention Rules and Credentials Committees will meet the weekend before the Convention in Charlotte. All three committees consist of two co-Chairs, four Vice Chairs, 25 Party Leader and Elected Official (PLEO) members who were elected by the DNC Executive Committee, and an additional 161 members elected by each of the states and territories.
The Rules Committee is chaired by State Attorney General Kamala Harris and Governor Martin O'Malley. The Credentials Committee is chaired by Mayor Julian Castro and Bishop Vashti McKenzie.
Meetings of the Convention Standing Committees are open to the public and press.