The Democratic Party appears on its way to adopting a platform different in style and tone from its 1984 statement of principles but containing most of the same liberal policies.
The drafting panel of the Democratic Platform Committee adopted a preliminary version of the 1988 platform on Friday, completing work started at Mackinac Island, Mich., earlier this month. The draft now is ready for consideration by the full 186-member Platform Committee Saturday and Sunday. The committee is chaired by Gov. James J. Blanchard of Michigan.Differences between the party's apparent nominee, Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, and his top opponent, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, on key taxation, defense and foreign policy issues remain.
But the two campaigns and Democratic leaders have agreed to follow the party's traditional instincts on most other issues.
The draft platform adopted Friday calls for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, government-paid abortion, gay rights protection, plant-closing notification laws, affirmative action goals increased federal roles in providing day care and comprehensive health insurance coverage. All of those issues were included in the party's 1984 platform.
Jackson continues to fight for platform language that calls for tax hikes for businesses and the wealthy. That provision was contained in the 1984 document and was used by Republicans in the campaign against Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale.
In addition, the Jackson platform team is battling for a statement that defense spending should be cut and a provision that Palestinians deserve a homeland in the Middle East.
Dukakis - who favors an inoffensive, middle-of-the-road party statement so as not to alienate independent voters - has resisted those platform planks, and the issues will be brought before the full Platform Committee Saturday. They also may reach the floor of the party's national convention in Atlanta, July 18-21.
"We reserve the right to put them (the issues of contention) forward to ever larger groups," said Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jackson's platform representative.
Otherwise, the primary difference between 1984 and 1988 is length. The draft 1988 document is eight pages long and written in a style recalling the Declaration of Independence.
It starts: "We the people of the Democratic Party of the United States of America, in order to initiate the changes necessary to make our great nation greater still, in order to restore competence, caring and incorruptibility to the federal executive branch. . . ."