The Democratic convention ran into some problems yesterday when the Republicans noticed that the party platform did not mention their support for Jerusalem as the capital of Israel nor did it mention ‘god-given’ when describing people’s potential, both of which were changes from the 2008 platform.
After the Republicans seized on this issue, it appears president Obama ordered the party to ram through changes restoring such language with a voice vote on the floor of the convention, which was dutifully done even though the required two-thirds majority seemed to be not there as measured by the considerable vocal opposition to the changes. Democracy in action!
This pandering to both the Israel lobby and the god crowd is not surprising. What is interesting is why those two mentions were omitted in the first place. Party officials say that it was “essentially a technical oversight” and while that is possible, it does seem a little strange. Like most documents that are periodically published, drafting committees use past documents as templates to save time, with any changes being the result of deliberate intent.
The issue of Jerusalem has always been a contentious one in Middle East politics and the official line of US governments has been that its status should be decided as part of a full-fledged final status talks on the whole region between Israelis and the Palestinians. But party platforms have taken a much stronger pro-Israel stand that is more reflective of the hardline Israel lobby in the US.
As for the lack of mention of god, maybe that too was the result of a desire to move away from overtly religious pandering, leaving it to just the ‘god bless America’ endings of speeches that have become as meaningless a measure of religious sentiment as saying ‘god bless you’ or ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes.
Despite the shameless railroading of the changes at the convention, what this episode indicates is that the Democratic party leadership views this language merely symbolically, as a means to pander to these two constituencies and not because it cares that strongly about either issue, and the party rank and file does not want it at all.