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van of the Faith Church at Burnet who argued that “leniency toward homosexuality will endanger the civil rights of the majority.” Plevan continued, “We must speak out against any bill condoning gay rights as they are defying the laws of God. If you vote to endorse homosexuality, you are condoning wrong and many people will suffer because of this.” Or, take the conflict between testimony from the Electronics Industry Association and the Anti-Defamation League. The former called for the immediate repeal of the boycott provisions of the Export Administration Amendments of 1977 which made it unlawful for U.S. firms to honor the Arab boycott against Israel. The Anti-Defamation League, on the other hand, argued that “these laws should continue without change.” However, despite the occasional discord, one nagging doubt remained: had those who testified been heard? Would their concerns become the issues of the 1980 campaign or would the public opinion specialists and campaign media advisors in Washington, D.C., continue to set the political agenda by telling the voters what the major issues would be? For the most part, the witnesses felt that their efforts had been in vain and their pleas had fallen on deaf ears. Nita Gibson, the national president of Women Involved in Farm Ecolier in the day, she had urged the platform committee to adopt a “constitution for agriculture” that would ensure the survival of the family farmer and “allow agriculture to be a viable profitable venture.” After the hearings concluded, she discussed her displeasure at the reception she had received. “I had hoped that the purpose was to get more grassroots input into the democratic process,” she said. “I was hoping that’s what it was for. But I was frustrated and I didn’t get that feeling.” “The people who testify,” she continued, “go through this process with their heart and soul on the line, but the committee didn’t want to hear their criticisms. How can you correct yourself if you don’t listen to the criticisms? Historically, the platform has been written from the top down with the illusion that it came from the grassroots. The whole process is somewhat of a sham, but it can and should be otherwise.” Why did Nita Gibson bother to attend? “I came,” she replied, “to expose our positions to every mechanism in the free process that is available to us. We will write resolutions and submit them. We will hit every available source so they can’t come back and ask us, ‘Where were you?’ But they are not listening.” The committee also seemed cool toward Harrell Rogers, a political science professor at the University of Houston, who called for sweeping economic reforms and a repudiation of Carter’s current economic policies. Noting that “prices have continued to rise regardless of the level of government spending, or the tax, interest, or unemployment rate,” Rogers called on the Democratic Party to abandon its belief that high interest rates and an engineered recession will cure stagflation. Chronic inflation, Rogers asserted, is caused primarily by oligopolistic markets. When the economy is controlled by a handful of powerful corporations, “these firms can set prices where they want them without regard to demand.” Under these conditions, he said, no politically acceptable unemployment rate would be sufficient to alleviate inflation. Rogers noted that declining productivity also causes inflation, but rejected big business’ assertion that low productivity growth stems from insufficient profits and costly government regulation. Instead, Rogers laid the blame for low productivity at the doorstep of management. “While industry has enjoyed record profits, it has used these funds to buy up competitive industries and, in many cases, to chase exotic profits by investing in commodities, precious metals and gems, rare wines, and real estate.” As a substitute for Carter’s current economic strategy, Ro gers proposed a seven-part program to eliminate stagflation. High on his list of priorities were: A high capital gains tax on frivolous investments; Encouragement of productivity by promoting workplace democracy and better work environments; Profit controls on oligopolistic industries; Increased competition through enforcing antitrust laws and discouraging monopolistic mergers; Public participation in major industrial investment decisions. Although Rogers was warmly received by both the audience and the Houston press corps, the platform committee displayed little enthusiasm for his suggestions. Many points he made were already inscribed in the 1976 version of the party platform. “It’s a pity,” one member of the audience remarked. “They only give the little guys five minutes to present their case. Before you know it they’re through with you and busy with the next witness. How can they possibly get anything done and absorb what you are saying when they follow this procedure?” By mid-June, a 15-member subcommittee elected by the full platform committee will have convened in Washington, D.C. to draft the platform that National Party Chairman John White calls “a contract between the party and the people .a spiritual document, a rock on which we stand.” It will then be chiselled further by various issue task forces before it is finally submitted to the party’s national convention in New York City later this summer. By the time it’s all over, the Democratic Party will have spent approximately $100,000 of funds allocated by Congress to the two major political parties to hold their conventions and draft their platforms, held four regional hearings, conducted separate hearings for the Democratic governors, mayors, members of Congress, and “national interest groups,” and accumulated 10,000 pages of testimony. “Everybody and his dog said everything you could conceivably imagine,” says Gary Mauro, executive director of the Texas Democratic Party. “The jockeying between Carter and Kennedy over the various planks is all part of the process.” “There has been a serious attempt to see that all the issues are covered,” asserts state Party Chairman Billy Goldberg. “When it’s all over, I expect we’ll have a good progressive platform in the usual Democratic tradition.” Judging by the 1976 platform, Goldberg is probably correct. But what difference will the platform make if the candidates continually break their contract between the party and the people? Even more to the point, democracy must include process as well as substance. The Democratic platform may well be progressive in substance and the drafting procedures may give the illusion of grassroots participation and a bottom up process. But since the platform rarely becomes a policy guide followed by candidates once they are in office, the entire process of regional hearings becomes a hollow attempt to return party politics to the grassroots. “The platform is usually filed in a drawer and dusted off to show to school children and historians,” said Billie Carr, a member of the Democratic National Committee, delivering a stinging rebuke to both the platform committee and the Democratic Party. “When do we say, have you or have you not lived up to your obligation to see that this platform is implemented into law?” Although it is difficult to quarrel with Carr’s sentiments, it is equally difficult to understand how the Democratic Party can enforce the advocacy of the platform’s principles by its candidates when the very people who will draft the party’s guidelines cannot even maintain the illusion that they are genuinely interested in the opinions of constituents. 6 JUNE 20, 1980