The Democratic National Committee unveiled its official 2012 platform on Monday night, revealing how the party wants to position itself as the nation heads into the final weeks of a long and contentious presidential campaign.
As can be expected at this point, the document is indicative of the sharp divide of the economic and cultural agendas of the Democratic and Republican parties. In contrast to the Republican National Committee's recently released 2012 platform (dubbed "the most conservative platform in modern history"), which called for hardline positions against abortion, same-sex marriage and tax increases, the Democratic document endorses progressive positions it claims will bolster a middle class that the Republican Party "has turned its back on."
The following is a highlight of some of the issues discussed in the platform, called "Moving America Forward."
For the first time in either party's history, the 2012 Democratic platform calls for the "freedom to marry" and officially opposes federal and state constitutional amendments seeking to ban marriage for same-sex couples, including the Defense of Marriage Act.
"We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference," the platform states.
In a section titled "Protecting a Woman's Right to Choose," the Democrats appear to support abortion in all circumstances, as permissible by the law under Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court verdict that guaranteed the right to abortion.
"The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way."
Just as President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats have been advocating for months, the platform calls for extending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 a year. The document notes that the average family has saved about $3,600 during Obama's first term due to those tax cut extensions.
"Mitt Romney's plan would cut taxes for those making over $3 million by an average of $250,000 and would create incentives that will lead to hundreds of thousands of jobs going overseas at the expense of American workers," states the document, noting that the GOP presidential nominees tax plan would actually cut taxes for individuals making more than $3 million a year while establishing a $2,000 tax increase for middle class families.
In a section discussing national poverty, the platform once again points to the tax code, noting that Obama's Republican opponent would slash programs that help low-income families, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, and would "raise taxes on low- and middle-income Americans to fund his tax breaks weighted toward the wealthiest."
The Democrats say they want to "bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows" by requiring them to "get right with the law", learn English and pay taxes in order to earn a path to citizenship. It also calls for reforming the visa system, and says the Department of Homeland Security is prioritizing the deportation of "criminals who endanger our communities over the deportation of immigrants who do not pose a threat, such as children who came here through no fault of their own and are pursuing an education."
Despite the series of mass shootings that have occurred across the nation this summer, Democrats have been silent when it comes to gun control. The 2012 platform, while endorsing the "reasonable regulation" of firearms, similarly skirts the issue, instead reiterating that Democrats believe in the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
"We believe that the right to own firearms is subject to reasonable regulation. We understand the terrible consequences of gun violence; it serves as a reminder that life is fragile, and our time here is limited and precious. We believe in an honest, open national conversation about firearms," it states.
Labor unions have had a tough couple of years, particularly following the election of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who notoriously passed legislation disabling collective bargaining rights for most government workers.
"We oppose the attacks on collective bargaining that Republican governors and state legislatures are mounting in states around the country," reads the Democratic document.
Some Other Things Worth Pointing Out...
'Stop Kony' Makes The Platform
The first section of the platform's Africa section references the need to "bring justice to those who commit mass atrocities," such as the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony. Earlier this year, "Kony 2012" was trending on social media websites after a short film about Kony created by the group Invisible Children went viral on the Internet.
No Word On Civil Liberties
Obama has a questionable history when it comes to civil liberties, a criticism of the president that is often cited by Democrats and Republicans alike. As Mother Jones' Adam Serwer points out, the Democrats' 2012 platform abandons many of the positions it took on civil liberties just four years ago, when the party was eager to differentiate the-then Democratic presidential nominee from the policies endorsed by President George W. Bush in the fight against al-Qaeda.
While the Democrats 2008 railed against indefinite detention ("We will not ship away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries, or detain without trial or charge prisoners who can and should be brought to justice for their crimes, or maintain a network of secret prisons to jail people beyond the reach of the law") there is absolutely no mention of the issue in the 2012 platform.
The Obama administration, as has been widely reported, has maintained the practice of indefinitely detaining certain suspected terrorists.
The platform is also silent when it comes to warrantless surveillance and the PATRIOT Act, issues Democrats vowed to revisit after the 2008 presidential election.
Moreover, while Democrats promised to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in 2008, this year they basically acknowledged that isn't going to happen any time soon. Instead, the platform says the U.S. is "substantially reducing the population at Guantanamo Bay without adding to it. And we remain committed to working with all branches of government to close the prison altogether because it is inconsistent with our national security interests and our values."