During the recent Democratic National Convention the delegates voted to adopt their party’s platform, a document that outlines the statement of principles and policies that the party has decided it will support.

Why should Christians care about a document that few non-politicians will ever read? Because of the influence the two major party platforms have on public policy. While the platform is not binding on the presidential nominee or any other politicians, political scientists have found that over the past 30 years lawmakers in Congress tend to vote in line with their party’s platform: 89 percent of the time for Republicans and 79 percent of the time for Democrats. For this reason we should be aware of what is proposed in these documents and how they may affect the welfare of our nation (Jeremiah 29:7).

This article will provide, without commentary, an outline of the Democratic platform as it relates to several social issues. Every statement is either a direct quote or a summary of the platform’s position. (Last week, we examined the GOP party’s platform and stance on these and related issues.)

Bioethics Issues

Supports appointing judges who defend abortion rights.

Opposes efforts to limit or prohibit taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood.

Opposes any laws that limit abortion.

Supports the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds from being used for abortion services.

Supports free abortion and contraceptives for all women.

Supports “sexual and reproductive health and rights around the globe.”

Opposes the “global gag rule” and the Helms Amendment that bars American assistance to abortion throughout the developing world.


Criminal Justice Reform

Supports reforming mandatory minimum sentences and closing private prisons and detention centers. 

Supports working with police chiefs to invest in training for officers on issues such as de-escalation and the creation of national guidelines for the appropriate use of force.

Encourages better police-community relations.

Supports requiring the use of body cameras.

Opposes the use of “weapons of war that have no place in our communities.”

Opposes racial profiling that targets individuals solely on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.

Supports a requirement to make the Department of Justice investigate all “questionable or suspicious police-involved shootings.”

Supports states and localities “who help make those investigations and prosecutions more transparent, including through reforming the grand jury process.”

Supports assisting states in providing a system of public defense that is adequately resourced and meets American Bar Association standards.

Supports reforming the civil asset forfeiture system to “protect people and remove perverse incentives for law enforcement to ‘police for a profit.’”

Supports removing barriers to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter society by “banning the box” (persuading employers to remove from their hiring applications the check box that asks if applicants have a criminal record). Supports executive action to “ban the box for federal employers and contractors, so applicants have an opportunity to demonstrate their qualifications before being asked about their criminal records.”

Supports expanding re-entry programs, and restoring voting rights for felons.

Supports, whenever possible, prioritizing prevention and treatment over incarceration when tackling addiction and substance use disorder.

Endorses the use of effective models of drug courts, veterans’ courts, and other diversionary programs that “seek to give nonviolent offenders opportunities for rehabilitation as opposed to incarceration.”

Supports abolishing the death penalty.


Discrimination and Racial Issues

Supports ending discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

Supports promoting “racial justice through fair, just, and equitable governing of all public-serving institutions and in the formation of public policy.”

Supports removing the Confederate battle flag from public properties, “recognizing that it is a symbol of our nation's racist past that has no place in our present or our future.”

Calls for a “societal transformation to make it clear that black lives matter and that there is no place for racism in our country.”

Supports U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Supports adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


Drugs and Drug Abuse

Supports the federal government removing marijuana from the list of “Schedule 1” federal controlled substances and to appropriately regulate it, “providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization.”

Supports states that want to decriminalize marijuana or provide access to medical marijuana.

Supports policies that will allow more research on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to “allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty.”

Supports expanding “access to prevention and treatment, supporting recovery, helping community organizations, and promoting better practices by prescribers.”

Supports expanding access to care for addiction services, and ensuring that insurance coverage is “equal to that for any other health conditions.”


Education

Supports making community college free for all students.

Supports the federal government pushing “more colleges and universities to take quantifiable, affirmative steps in increasing the percentages of racial and ethnic minority, low-income, and first-generation students they enroll and graduate.”

Supports “ensuring the strength of our Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions.”

Supports refinancing of current student loan debt.

Supports simplifying and expanding “access to income-based repayment so that no student loan borrowers ever have to pay more than they can afford.”

Supports a student borrower bill of rights to “ensure borrowers get adequate information about options to avoid or get out of delinquency or default.”

Supports the Public Service Loan Forgiveness and loan discharge programs “begun by the Obama Administration.”

Supports the inclusion of student loans in bankruptcy.

Supports a moratorium on student loan payments to all federal loan borrowers.

Supports restoring year-round Pell funding.

Supports strengthening the gainful employment rule to ensure that for-profit schools enable students to complete their degrees and prepare them for work.

Supports the Department of Education using their oversight to “close down those for-profit schools that consistently engage in fraudulent and illegal conduct.”

Supports universal preschool for all children.

Supports efforts to “raise wages for childcare workers, and to ensure that early childhood educators are experienced and high-quality.”

Supports increased investments in afterschool and summer learning programs.

Encourages group mentoring programs.

Encourage states to develop a “multiple measures approach to assessment, and we believe that standardized tests must be reliable and valid.”

Opposes use of standardized tests that “falsely and unfairly label students of color, students with disabilities and English Language Learners as failing.”

Opposes the use of standardized test scores as basis for refusing to fund schools or to close schools.

Opposes the use of student test scores in teacher and principal evaluations.

Support enabling parents to opt their children out of standardized tests without penalty for either the student or their school.

Supports a national campaign to recruit and retain high-quality teachers.

Supports “high-quality STEAM classes, community schools, computer science education, arts education, and expand link learning models and career pathways.”

Supports ending end the “school-to-prison pipeline by opposing discipline policies which disproportionately affect African Americans and Latinos, Native Americans and Alaska Natives, students with disabilities, and youth who identify as LGBT.”

Supports the use of restorative justice practices that “help students and staff resolve conflicts peacefully and respectfully while helping to improve the teaching and learning environment.”

Supports improving “school culture” and combatting “bullying of all kinds.”

Supports expanding Title I funding for schools that serve a large number or high concentration of children in poverty.

Supports charter schools but opposes for-profit charter schools.

Supports increasing sexual violence prevention education programs that “cover issues like consent and bystander intervention, not only in college, but also in secondary school.”


Faith-Based Organizations

Says: “We believe in lifting up and valuing the good work of people of faith and religious organizations and finding ways to support that work where possible.”


Human Trafficking

Supports the “full force of the law against those who engage in modern-day forms of slavery, including the commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor of men, women, and children.

Supports increasing diplomatic efforts with foreign governments to “root out complicit public officials who facilitate or perpetrate this evil.”

Supports increasing the “provision of services and protections for trafficking survivors.”


LGBT Issues

Supports comprehensive federal nondiscrimination protections “for all LGBT Americans, to guarantee equal rights in areas such as housing, employment, public accommodations, credit, jury service, education, and federal funding.”

Opposes all state efforts to “discriminate against LGBT individuals, including legislation that restricts the right to access public spaces.”

Supports combatting LGBT youth homelessness and improving school climates.

Supports ensuring support LGBT elders have access to necessary health care, and “protect LGBT people from violence—including ending the crisis of violence against transgender Americans.”

Supports promotion of “LGBT human rights” around the world and ensuing “America’s foreign policy is inclusive of LGBT people.


National Service

Support strengthening AmeriCorps with the “goal that every American who wants to participate in full-time national service will have the opportunity to do so.”


Poverty

Supports directing more federal resources to “lifting up communities that have been left out and left behind, such as the 10-20-30 model, which directs 10 percent of program funds to communities where at least 20 percent of the population has been living below the poverty line for 30 years or more.”

Supports protecting programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Supports helping people “grow their skills through jobs and skills training opportunities.”

Supports expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program for low-wage workers not raising children, including extending the credit to young workers starting at age 21.

Supports expanding the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and making more of it refundable, or indexed to inflation to stem the erosion of the credit.


Religious Liberty

Opposes attempts to impose a religious test to bar immigrants or refugees from entering the United States.

Supports a “progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate.”

Supports protecting both Muslims and religious minorities and the “fundamental right of freedom of religion” in the Middle East.


Torture

Opposes the use of torture and other war crimes by the United States.