1992 platform largely reflects Clinton's beliefs

July 14, 1992|By Chicago Tribune

NEW YORK -- Hoping to avoid the "pandering to special interests" tag that has dogged it in the past, the Democratic Party tailored its 1992 platform to such broad middle-class concerns as college loans, free-market incentives and affordable health care.

While there is still the odd mention of special pleadings like the rights of native Hawaiians and statehood for the District of Columbia, once staples in Democratic documents, such items are fewer in this platform.

The 1992 platform drapes some liberal ideas in conservative language, referring to "investing" in America rather than raising taxes to pay for roads and education.

It is heavy on the so-called family values, with references to a favorite Bill Clinton theme that "governments don't raise children; people do." It also calls for higher taxes on the wealthy to fund government economic programs.

The platform largely reflects Mr. Clinton's beliefs, though platform writers deny that he directly dictated it, and the beliefs of the more moderate Democrats who make up the Democratic Leadership Council.

That has led to some grousing from liberal factions of the party, some of the most stalwart Democrats in recent years, but most are willing to subordinate their individual desires this time around so that Mr. Clinton has a firm underpinning before he takes the campaign to the nation.

"There is a recognition that in the past some of our concerns about disadvantaged groups caused the middle-income and working-class Democrats to feel out of the circle of concern and activity by the party," House Speaker Thomas S. Foley, D-Wash., said Sunday.

"We're going to retain our intense concern with the economic future of disadvantaged minorities and other groups, but we also have to see that the broad Democratic coalition is reformed . . . and that includes middle-income voters."

Efforts by such liberals as the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and Jerry Brown to influence the platform were turned back when the platform committee met in June in Washington.

The committee was more receptive to proposals from former presidential contender Paul E. Tsongas, and the convention will vote on four of his proposed planks today. But none is expected to pass, leaving the platform document pretty much the way Mr. Clinton wants it.

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