Party Platforms Make Nov. 4 Decision Clear

Article excerpt

Political party platforms aren't discussed or debated much anymore, which is too bad, because they reveal priorities and perspectives that might not make it into the candidates' speeches or through the media filters. So, I decided to take a closer look at the two major party platforms in search of illumination beyond the daily sound bites and "horse race" reporting that make up most election coverage.

I'm pleased to report that the 2008 Democratic Party Platform is a giant leap forward from previous platforms on a whole array of issues. Karen Kornbluh, designated by Sen. Barack Obama to draft the platform, made sure women's issues were covered throughout - included in sections on health care, the economy, work and family, small businesses and more. A new section on "Opportunity for Women" makes its debut, including language specifically denouncing sexism:

We believe that standing up for our country means standing up against sexism and all intolerance. Demeaning portrayals of women cheapen our debates, dampen the dreams of our daughters, and deny us the contributions of too many. Responsibility lies with us all.

Support for the Equal Rights Amendment, which would put women into the U.S. Constitution has been put back into the platform, as well as a call for the U.S. to finally ratify CEDAW, a United Nations treaty to eliminate discrimination against women worldwide. There's a promise to address the scourge that is human trafficking, and denunciations of both the misnamed Defense of Marriage Act and the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy that has resulted in countless lesbian and gay soldiers being kicked out of the military.

The new platform supports Family and Medical Leave Act expansion, paid sick days, international family planning, disability rights, affirmative action, hate crimes legislation, ending violence against women, and promoting women's rights around the world. And it stands firm on reproductive justice and abortion rights:

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman 's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.

The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to comprehensive affordable family planning services and age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.

And in the section on health care, the platform makes this bold assertion: "We oppose the current Administration's consistent attempts to undermine a woman's ability to make her own life choices and obtain reproductive health care, including birth control. …