Democrats say they finally adopted a platform of ideals Tuesday that mainstream America may swallow without choking on radical statements designed to appease fringe factions of the party.
They say that is true even though Jesse Jackson forces were able to add 10 of their 13 proposed amendments that were originally opposed by apparent nominee Michael Dukakis. They range from calls to spend more on education to restraining defense funding and stopping nuclear warhead testing."This is the first platform in a long time that won't force the presidential nominee to call a press conference the next day to say he can't support it," said former Utah Gov. Scott M. Matheson.
He headed a Democratic National Policy Committee two years ago that was designed to tune the party more into the concerns of the common man. The platform that was adopted Tuesday grew out of that committee's work.
"We're finally getting close to something that is acceptable to most Americans. On the national level, I feel this (document) will not cause many ripples. But it won't be entirely well-received in Utah," Matheson said.
Points in the platform that could upset some conservatives are explicit support for the proposed Equal Rights Amendment and general statements that give mild support for gay rights and abortion.
Matheson said, "I'm not entirely happy with the way everything turned out. For example, I personally oppose abortion. But I respect the law and would enforce it. This platform supports the existing system."
Utah delegate Elizabeth Willey, who was also a member of the National Platform Committee, said, "It's time those issues are buried. Republicans pinpoint those issues when they are not that important, spreading human rights and cleaning up the environment. A lot of work went into this document, and I'm happy with it."
But Jackson forces were not entirely satisfied - although they did win most of their battles. One of the planks they could not add was a call to adopt a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons.
That amendment failed 2,474.1 to 1,220.6 after Dukakis forces said it might give appearance of weakness. The Utah delegation voted 20 to 5 against it, with three absent.
But Jamie Stewart, Utah alternate delegate pledged to Jackson, took heart when the convention adopted 10 Jackson amendments by acclamation that included a call for a moratorium on nuclear warhead and missile flight testing. "That pretty much gives us what we want anyway."
Two other Jackson amendments failed - one that called for Israel to negotiate more with its neighbors, which was withdrawn before a vote; and one that proposed raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, which failed by a 2,499 to a 1,092.5 vote. The Utah delegation voted 18-3 against it.
Besides the platform compromises, Jackson also got a pledge from Dukakis and national party chairman Paul Kirk that he can personally pick a number of his supporters to national party posts, an achievement seen as another victory for Jackson.