Elijah Cummings

When I was named as Chair of the National Democratic Party’s 15-person Platform Drafting Committee, there were some who wondered whether we would be able to bring together the strong and principled leaders who would be representing Secretary Clinton, Senator Sanders and the Democratic Party as a whole.

For my own part, however, I was optimistic, and, today, I retain that same core optimism that carried President Obama to victory in 2008 and 2012.

In a nation with incredible assets — above all, the quality and conviction of our people — as well as very real challenges that must be overcome, we must reach higher than simply negotiating “common ground” between the broadly compatible visions of the Democratic presidential campaigns.

We must seek and attain that higher ground that the American people yearn for and deserve.

Our democratic vision of the higher ground that will reinvigorate our nation’s political system need not be a totally new course, but, rather, must be a renewed commitment to the core values of our nation and its Democratic Party.

Those core values that we, as Democrats, must continue to advance will be the foundation for “affordable child care, good education for our children, health security, living wage jobs that will support our families, respect for the environment and human rights, clean elections and clean campaigns.”

If we remain true to this truly centrist vision, I remain convinced, we will elect a strong, compassionate and committed woman as our next President and assure her of a Congress that is more responsive to the American People.

Those electoral victories, in turn, will be the foundation for real and substantial  progress toward President Obama’s vision of a more principled, inclusive and prosperous country.

Acting upon our commitment to an open and inclusive platform process that empowers the American people we serve, Democrats throughout our great nation have been encouraged to submit their written or video testimony through our Internet site: demconvention.com/platform — as well as to testify in person during the four public platform hearings that we are holding.

My experience in public life has confirmed, time and again, that good people operating in an open and inclusive process are the most certain source of empowering and effective public policy.

Each of my colleagues on the Platform Drafting Committee is an ardent and eloquent advocate for the values of our Democratic Party.  Equally important, each understands and appreciates that when we are called upon to speak for others, first we should listen — and, then, if speak we must, we should try to speak to their condition.”

We on the Democratic Platform Committee have been listening to the aspirations and struggles of our countrymen and women.  This is my promise — one that I am convinced that my colleagues wholeheartedly share.

The current condition of the American People — both inspired by our accomplishments and promise as a nation and deeply disturbed by the forces that would seek to disparage, divide or dehumanize us — must inform our principles and inspire our Democratic Movement for constructive change.

When our proposals for the Democratic Platform are examined and debated by the Delegates in Philadelphia next month, I am cautiously optimistic that this declaration of our commitment to our nation and her people will be one that all Democratic candidates can embrace.

We will have come together as an enlightened and empowered people to reaffirm our dedication to that vision for America that every school child learns by heart.  We will have once again committed ourselves to building an America that truly reflects the higher ground of “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”

Congressman Elijah Cummings represents Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.