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A Clinton Finds a Changing Democratic Party


Former President Bill Clinton takes the stage to speak during the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Tuesday, July 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Former President Bill Clinton takes the stage to speak during the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Tuesday, July 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The Democratic Party that is set to nominate Hillary Clinton for president is not the same party that twice nominated her husband, Bill Clinton, for president.

The party’s 2016 platform -- or statement of positions on major issues -- is the most progressive in the party’s history, according to Senator Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton, who defeated Sanders for the Democratic nomination, is backing key parts of the platform.

She is expected to accept the Democratic nomination on Thursday, the last day of the four-day convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The 2016 platform is more liberal than the positions Bill Clinton campaigned on and supported during his two terms as president from 1993 to 2001.

Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appears on a large monitor to thank delegates during the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 26, 2016. Clinton made history as the first woman to receive the presidential nomination of a major party.

Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appears on a large monitor to thank delegates during the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 26, 2016. Clinton made history as the first woman to receive the presidential nomination of a major party.

Bill Clinton’s positions

Clinton vowed to “end welfare as we know it,” and signed a 1996 bill that put time limits and work requirements on welfare recipients.

He signed the “Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a union of one man and one woman. The Supreme Court in effect ended the law when it ruled last year that same sex couples can marry.

Bill Clinton also negotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Hillary Clinton now says did not do what many had hoped” in creating jobs for Americans.

In 1992, when Clinton accepted the Democratic presidential nomination, he spoke about what government should and should not do.

He promised a “government that is leaner, not meaner; a government that expands opportunity, not bureaucracy; a government that understands that jobs must come from growth” under a free enterprise system.

Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton dance on stage during a "Get-Out-The-Vote" rally at the Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday night, Nov. 1, 1992. (AP Photo/Susan Ragan, File)

Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton dance on stage during a "Get-Out-The-Vote" rally at the Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday night, Nov. 1, 1992. (AP Photo/Susan Ragan, File)

Changing times

Brian Brox is a political science professor at Tulane University in the southern state of Louisiana. He said some of the policies Bill Clinton championed in the 1990s came from a group called the Democratic Leadership Council, or DLC, which he helped lead.

The DLC called for new “centrist” policies after the party lost three straight presidential elections from 1980-1988 with candidates considered too liberal, Brox said.

John Breaux is a former Democratic senator from Louisiana. He replaced Clinton as DLC chairman after Clinton was elected president.

“It is a different time now with different issues,” Breaux said.

Sen. John Breaux

Sen. John Breaux

Brox agrees. He said: “America has changed in the 16 years since his presidency ended, and the current platform reflects how the country has changed after wars and an economic crisis, as well as how the country is demographically different than it was when he was president.”

Breaux said Clinton carried southern states when he ran for president. Those states are now solidly Republican in national races. That means Democrats do not feel the need to support centrist proposals that appeal to Southern voters, he said.

The new Democrats

The 2016 Democratic Party has gone further than the party led by Bill Clinton in the 1990s. For example, Bill Clinton supported and won passage of a bill requiring most companies to offer family leave so a worker could deal with an emergency.

Now, Democrats and Hillary Clinton propose that the law do more. For example, they want companies to continue paying employees for up to 12 weeks if they have to take care of a sick child or parent.

Bill Clinton appears comfortable with the more liberal agenda proposed by his wife and the Democratic Party, said Tulane University’s Brox.

“He might very well have pushed for a more progressive agenda had the voters wanted it,” Brox said. “But ultimately he wanted to win then, just as he wants his wife to win now.”

As president, Clinton balanced his centrist proposals with some liberal bills. He proposed a bill, which his wife pushed in Congress, to provide health insurance for all Americans.

He also proposed a crime bill with a five-day waiting period for handgun purchases and higher taxes on wealthy Americans to lower the deficit.

The crime and tax bills passed. The health care legislation did not.

Delegates cheer as Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appears on the screen during the second day session of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 26, 2016.

Delegates cheer as Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appears on the screen during the second day session of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 26, 2016.

Clinton has mostly managed to get favorable ratings from a majority of Americans despite continued controversy.

In 1998, a majority of voters held a favorable view of Clinton, even as Republicans tried unsuccessfully to remove him from office for his sexual relationship with a White House intern.

Last month, Clinton was criticized for meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch at an airport. The meeting occurred just days before she said the government would not prosecute Hillary Clinton for using a private email server as secretary of state.

But Democrats said there are few people better able to tell Americans why they should elect Hillary Clinton, over her Republican opponent, businessman Donald Trump.

“No one can do a better job talking about the things that Hillary has done, the fights she's taken on," said Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager.

Bruce Alpert reported this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

welfare -- n. a government program for poor or unemployed people that helps pay for their food, housing, medical costs, etc.

leaner -- adj. thinner, smaller

bureaucracy -- n. a large group of people who are involved in running a government but who are not elected

free enterprise -- n. a system in which private businesses are able to compete with each other with little control by the government

replace -- v. to do the job or duty of another person

demographically -- adv. qualities such as age, sex, and, income, ethnic background of people

prosecute -- v. to charge a person with a crime and move to prove guilt

email server -- n. a system used to transmit messages through computers

controversy -- n. strong disagreement about something among a large group of people

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