Democrats finally roll out their agenda, but leave out many progressive agenda items

Democrats finally roll out their agenda, but leave out many progressive agenda items
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer J. Scott Applewhite/AP
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The Democratic Party has been criticized in recent weeks for failing to put forward a positive policy agenda beyond just opposing Trump. Now it appears that they’re finally ready to release something, but early reports suggest their new plan will leave a lot to be desired among progressives in the party.

The new agenda will be released under the title, “A Better Deal: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Wages.”

According to the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, the plan “jettisoned social and foreign policy issues for this exercise, eschewing the identity politics and box-checking that has plagued Democratic campaigns in the past.”

Leaving social justice issues out of the platform is sure to anger many progressives in the party who have been pushing for issues like police brutality, systemic racism and transgender rights to be front-and-center on the Democratic agenda.

Likewise, the absence of any foreign policy agenda is likely to irk the left’s many critics of America’s never-ending wars.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez at a DNC rally. Matt York/AP

The platform is said to instead focus on a progressive economic agenda. But even these polices are narrow in their scope. Policies like tax increases on the rich, more affordable college, infrastructure spending and higher wages, are reported to be at the center of the new platform.

The platform does not, at this time, appear to emphasize increasingly popular progressive policies like single-payer health care. And, despite its focus on work and the economy, it also does not look like the plan will center Democratic support for unions or worker power.

Even its title leads with a nod to the centrist policy obsession with job skills training — a proposal based on the fallacious notion that low-skilled workers can overcome their economic plight if they are simply provided access to training for higher-skilled middle-income jobs.

Center right and liberal economists like Paul Krugman have decried the so-called “skills gap myth” for years. Meanwhile establishment business figures like JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon have continued to advocate for skills and training based approaches to helping workers, despite mounting evidence that such policies are a solution in search of a problem.

The Democrats new agenda appears to be a radical step toward standing absolutely still, while abandoning some of their bases core priorities. But then again, who’s to say trying the same thing over and over again won’t work?