Skip to content

Colorado Democratic Platform Committee To Debate Israeli-Palestinian Issue Next Saturday

April 21, 2008

For the most part, elected officials in both major parties here in Colorado – and I would guess nationwide – don’t take the party’s platform, developed by their constituents at grassroots settings, too seriously. Candidates and elected officials cherry pick the issues, and although they try not to stray to far from the general philosophy of the party they’ve given their hearts to, it has sometimes been known to happen that their ideas morph rather regularly, depending upon circumstances, – circumstances being determined largely by lobbyists and other unsavory types.

Too bad.

Looking at what is shaping up to be the Colorado Democratic Party platform this year, I’d say that it is far to the left of its elected officials on pretty much everything. With 300+ platform `planks’ – shortly articulated positions on essentially every state, national and international question imaginable, if Democratic legislators followed `the party line’, frankly the politics of the state of Colorado would be transformed overnight, and for the better.

Cynics should have no cause to worry though. I doubt the revolt triggered from below is in the offing. The platform will be what it has been in the past, a release of pressure from the rank and file, a useful indicator to elected officials to see just how far they’ve wandered from their base in accepting advice from seedy and greedy developers, mining, energy, real estate and financial interests, and the likes military contractors and Colorado Springs right wing Christian fundamentalists.

And business will go on as usual, slightly, but not very much modified by the fact that the state is run by a Democratic governor and legislature.

And yet the discussions around the 2008 platform do generate a good deal of interest from grassroots dems. Alot of energy goes into putting together the planks (positions), in tabulating the votes and in making the process as genuinely democratic as possible. The little that I’ve gleaned about it suggests that grass roots dems take the development of their platform seriously, to their credit.

Enter AIPAC?

It is interesting that of all the 300+ suggested platform planks to be considered in this year’s state convention, only one issue has drawn the attention of important state elected officials enough to merit sending in written commentaries to platform committee. I have 12 such letters sitting in front of me. They are from Governor Bill Ritter, State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, from US Senator Ken Salazar, US Representatives Diana DeGette, Mark Udall, John Salazar, Ed Perlmutter, Colorado State Senate President Peter C. Groff, former Colorado legislator Andrew Romanoff, Colorado State Reps Nancy Todd and Joel Judd. There is another letter worth reading, from a member of the state platform committee which challenges the position of `the gang of 12′.

These letters have nothing to do with any state issue – not the debt accumulating from DIA, the status of oil and gas drilling excesses on Colorado’s Western Slope, the ever increasing water crisis in the state, the army’s attempt to annex land in the state’s southeastern corner so they can experiment with more new bombs, the sorry state of public education in Colorado, the fate of the state’s hundreds of thousands undocumented workers most from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, the intensely anti-labor atmosphere which permeates the state or the numerous environmental boondoggles which the state keeps trying to hide and that Adrienne Anderson, through her careful research, keeps exposing.

No.

Instead there are 12 letters from many of the state’s most prominent Democrats on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and this is the only issue, at least to date, that these elected officials deemed important enough to comment upon, all on official letterhead stationary.

What a coincidence that all of these letters essentially follow the same pattern and reach the same conclusion! A cynic would say that they were written by the same hand, or that they used the same provided fact sheet (but by whom I wonder?) to write their commentaries. But since we’re not cynics, we won’t make such an unjustified charge. They simply all came to the same conclusion on the same issue in the same way at the same time using essentially the same language.

And what was it that triggered this outpouring of carefully contrived legislative angst?

Those Damned Unruly Democrats

Apparently, the legislators and the governor are responding to the fact that from all over the state, Democratic caucuses produced resolutions addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These resolutions came from literally every corner of Colorado and while they had somewhat different political chemistries to them in the details, the overwhelming majority – all passed by wide margins in their local areas – all called for a negotiated two state solution to the conflict, some openly criticizing the Israeli occupation of the 1967 territories, some simply calling for a more even handed US policy. There was also one – that passed 37-to-1 in its caucus – opposing the use of force by the United States in resolving current US-Iranian tensions.

The legislative letters on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, all going to the state platform committee, all called for the platform committee to reject these moderate-to-left resolutions on the subject and replace them with the 2006 state platform plank on the issue. That plank was adopted in the face of a similar grassroots challenge two years ago only after Mark Udall and Diana DeGette sent similar letters to the platform committee calling the use of the term `occupation’ to describe Israel’s current posture in the West Bank and Gaza as `inflammatory’.

The 2006 plank reaffirms `strong support for Israel’ while acknowledging `commitment to self-determination for the Palestinians’. As such, even in this stilted language, it does support a two state solution. But it keeps the door open, given the way it is formulated to the unending flow of US economic and military aid, and suggests at least by its wording that any Israeli-Palestinian peace would be constructed largely on Israeli terms. Perhaps more than any other factor, this wording erases the moral stigma – recognized virtually universally – of Israel’s 40 year occupation of Palestinian territories.

In any case, a great deal of behind the scenes organizing and political energy went into the generating of these letters and with them, the attempt to pressure the platform committee not to break ranks on the issue. All this will come to a head at the upcoming platform committee meeting this next Saturday – open to the public like all Democratic Party meetings. Too bad I’ll be in Utah. I’d like to watch the political tap dance in person.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: