This is not what the party's base really cares about. Sanders's wonkish, crowded rallies have been full of policy; so have Hillary Rodham Clinton's events, before the news conferences that turned inevitably on what she did with her e-mails. The Democratic voters tuning in tonight are going to be listening for specific promises about progressive issues (or fears) that have not often cut through the Trump-colored media haze. Here is a bluffer's guide.
Glass-Steagall: Shorthand for the provisions of the 1933 Banking Act that prevented financial institutions from acting as both commercial and investment banks. Named for Sen. Carter Glass of Virginia and Rep. Henry B. Steagall of Alabama, who’d proposed the legislation at the height of the Great Depression, it became law under President Franklin D. Roosevelt – and more importantly, was undone in the final years of Bill Clinton’s presidency. To call for “reinstating Glass-Steagall” is to say that then-President Clinton made a blunder that enabled the banker chicanery that led to the 2008 financial crisis.
The undocumented: The preferred Democratic term for people who enter the United States illegally. (“Illegal immigrant” is considered a pejorative at this point.)
"Dreamers:" People whose parents brought them to the United States as children, and who therefore lack citizenship. The Dream Act (an acronym for "Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors") is a bill crafted to address the situation.
The 99 percent: A concept (and actual piece of data) that grew out of the Occupy Wall Street movement, referring specifically to households that make under $350,000 or so per year -- an income group that constitutes more than 99 percent of the U.S. population.
Carbon pricing: The taxing of CO2 emissions, a goal of green groups. A bill got through the Democratic House in the first years of the Obama presidency but has been doomed since. Favored by every Democratic candidate, opposed with the heat of a thousand suns by the energy industry.
No-fly zone: Controlling a country’s airspace with American (or allied) air power, a way of intervening in a conflict without sending ground troops. As secretary of state, Clinton backed a no-fly zone over Libya; as a candidate she has backed the same idea for Syria. Her rivals have not.
TPP: The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a long-in-the-negotiating trade deal between the United States and Pacific nations which – as of last week – the major Democrats all oppose. They join most labor unions and progressive Democrats, whose objections include the secrecy of the negotiation process. Members of Congress, for example, can only read the legislation by entering a secluded room, unable to take out anything they get.
Single payer: Shorthand for government-run health care. Sanders has always favored replacing America’s mixed-market system with something closer to Canada’s or those found in the nations of Western Europe, and “single payer” has been the quick way to describe that.
Cadillac tax: A looming fee on top-end health-care plans, scheduled to begin in 2018. Sanders and former Sen. Jim Webb (Va.) voted for it, when voting for the entire Affordable Care Act; Sanders has introduced legislation to undo it.
Gun show loophole/Charleston loophole: Respectfully, the popular terms for the ability of sellers online and at gun shows to move product without background checks, and the ability of someone with a felony record to obtain a gun if the seller doesn’t complete a background check in three days.
Citizens United: Specifically a reference to the 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, but often a metonym for “bad campaign finance decisions” or “corporations dominating our democracy.” Sanders has said, repeatedly, that anyone he nominates to the Supreme Court first would have to agree to undo Citizens United.
Shelby County: Shelby County v. Holder (2013), the Roberts Supreme Court decision that declared unconstitutional a provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The ruling liberated some states and counties with histories of discrimination from having to pre-clear their voting laws with the Justice Department.
Sentencing disparities: The gulf between penalties dealt to black men and other Americans, as well as the de jure discrepancies between possessions of different drugs. Every Democrat now favors reducing or ending all of this, but Bill Clinton’s campaign and presidency advanced tough-on-crime policies that every Democrat now wants to undo.
Paid family leave: The idea of expanding the current Family and Medical Leave Act; expanding Social Security to require payment, not just time off, for new mothers. Clinton once called it politically unlikely; since 2014, she has consistently backed it. “If we give parents the flexibility on the job and paid family leave it actually helps productivity, which in turn helps all of us,” she said then.
Living wage: The amount of money it takes for someone to live above the poverty line. It changes between jurisdictions, sometimes dramatically, and Sanders and Clinton have disagreed over whether minimum wages could be raised to $15 per hour nationally or whether states and cities should decide what works for them.
ENDA: The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Democratic legislation that would protect gender identity and sexual orientation from employer bias. Introduced in almost every Congress since 1995, it has been a nonstarter since Republicans took the House of Representatives.