There is now a Native American voice helping to write what will be the Democrats campaign message.
This is Trahant Reports.
Deborah Parker has been named to the Democratic National Convention’s Platform Committee. She was appointed by Bernie Sanders.
As Nicole Willis posted on Facebook: “I am beyond pleased that American Indian and Alaska Native issues are such a high priority for this campaign – so much that one of our platform spots has gone to Deborah Parker!” (Willis is the National Tribal Outreach Director for the Bernie Sanders campaign.)
Every four years political parties craft carefully worded statements. They outline exactly what the party hopes to achieve over the next four years should they win the White House and Congress.
The way it usually works is the party’s nominee selects the platform committee. That’s exactly what will happen on the Republican side now that Donald Trump is putting his stamp on the Republican campaign.
But the Democrats are not there yet.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has a sizable lead, but not quite enough delegates to win. And Bernie Sanders is in that tough spot of trying to catch up to Clinton with fewer and fewer delegates up for grabs. So when there is no nominee, usually, the party appoints the convention committee posts.
But the Democrats opted for a more inclusive route: Clinton was awarded 6 seats; Sanders 5; and the remaining 4 were appointed by the party itself.
Deborah Parker, a former vice chairman of the Tulalip Tribes in Washington, was an early supporter of Sanders. She has much to offer any platform committee. She understands and can communicate the relationship between tribes and the federal government and what might be possible in terms of improvement. She also was one of the key tribal champions who helped make the Violence Against Women Act, the law.
On Facebook this week Parker said: “It’s an honor to work beside Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Her work on five topics to include in the platform: Health care for Native Americans; tribal sovereignty; justice for women; reforms for U.S. criminal justice; and, climate justice.
“In short, Bernie said, “We need a systems change for Native Americans. We can do this Deborah. I want you to research what the Alaskan Natives are doing with holistic health. We need to bring their traditional medicine concept into the health care system.”
The platform committee will do much of its drafting before the Democrats meet in July. Then the final document will be approved at the convention.
Both parties routinely have sections that outline their Native American policies.
Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso will co-chair the Republican Platform Committee along with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.
What difference does a party platform make? These are aspirational statements, not a governing plan or even legislation, but these are words the two parties will use as they campaign. The platform tells voters, this is what we will do, if you elect us.
I am Mark Trahant reporting.