The Democratic platform is a statement of principles that define the character of the party. It draws scant attention from the public, but is a major issue for convention participants. Some planks have been praised while others have drawn criticism from the Orange County delegation, already split on the presidential nominee: 14 are pledged to Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and 10 to ex-California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. The group includes a union representative from Cypress, an emergency room physician from Laguna Hills, a hair salon owner from Santa Ana and a college professor from Westminster.
ISSUES, REACTIONS, POLL RESULTS
Platform: "America is the world's strongest military power and we must remain so. A post-Cold War restructuring of American forces will produce substantial savings beyond those promised by the Bush Administration, but that restructuring must be achieved without undermining our ability to meet future threats to our security."
In Orange County: Defense employment dropped 15% in the most recent three years for which statistics are available. But even though most residents surveyed by The Times this spring said they believe defense cutbacks could hurt the economy, a third wanted deeper reductions than President Bush has proposed.
"We argued for a 50% cut in the military; Clinton voted us down. We wanted an end to nuclear testing; Clinton voted us down. We tried to get the national party on record against first use of nuclear weapons. On the issues, there are differences that separate us." Tim Carpenter, a Brown delegate from Santa Ana.
Reducing Military Spending: The Bush Administration's plan is to reduce military spending by 3.5% or $50 billion over the next five years. Some in Congress favor larger cuts. Do you think the defense cuts proposed by the Bush Administration are too much, about right or not enough? Democrats Too much: 18% About right: 34% Not enough: 41% Don't know: 7% Republicans Too much: 13% About right: 56% Not enough: 25% Don't know: 6%
Platform: "Democrats stand behind the right of every woman to choose--consistent with Roe vs. Wade--regardless of ability to pay, and (they) support a national law to protect that right. It is a fundamental constitutional liberty that individual Americans--not government--can best take responsibility for making the most difficult and intensely personal decisions regarding reproduction."
In Orange County: Only one state or federal lawmaker supports abortion rights--Garden Grove Assemblyman Tom Umberg, the county's only Democratic legislator. Still, abortion was a major issue in several Republican primaries last month. A Times poll in May found about two-thirds of the county's residents would oppose a law prohibiting abortion.
"I think the choice issue will be right up there. I think there's a lot of Republican women who will be voting for Clinton on the choice issue." Linda Moulton-Patterson, a Clinton delegate from Huntington Beach.
Agreeing with the Candidate: In voting in this year's elections, how important is it to you that the candidate you support agrees with your views on abortion? Democrats Very important: 55% Somewhat important: 34% Not important: 11% Republicans Very important: 48% Somewhat important: 32% Not important: 20%
Platform: "Multilateral trade agreements can advance our economic interests by expanding the global economy. Negotiating the North American Free Trade Area . . . our government must ensure that our legitimate concerns about environmental health and safety and labor standards are included."
In Orange County: Businesses are exploring new opportunities in Mexico in hopes that the United States will approve a trade agreement. But labor groups worry that it could eliminate American jobs. A recent poll found almost half the county's residents would expect a negative impact.
"It's not like we're even helping the Mexican people; we're taking (U.S.) jobs that used to pay $500 a week and they go to Mexico and pay $30 a week. And who gets the extra money? Do the Americans get the money? Do the Mexicans get the money? No, the CEOs get the money. So we have one more billionaire--what good does that do all of us?" Dorianne Garcia, a Brown delegate from Cypress.
Effect of Free Trade: The United States and Mexico are negotiating a free trade agreement that would make it easier for the two countries to exchange goods and services. What effect do you think a free trade agreement will have on the job outlook in Orange County? Will there be job loss, job growth or no change? Democrats Job loss: 38% Job growth: 17% No change: 38% Don't know: 7% Republicans Job loss: 30% Job growth: 20% No change: 39% Don't know: 11%