By Matthew WeavercloseAuthor: Matthew Weaver
Name: Matthew Weaver
See Authors Posts (43) on October 7, 2008 at 6:09 PM in Barack Obama, Current Affairs
Did you know that Barack Obama was a member of the leading socialist party? In a small omission, Barack Obama apparently forgot to include in his resume, he entered politics as a socialist. This just keeps getting better and better. Barack Obama was active participant in the 1990s of the Chicago New Party and, importantly, the Chicago DSA, a group of socialists affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America.
- Barack Obama attended and participated in meetings the Chicago New Party and the Chicago DSA, the local affiliate of the Democratic Socialists of America.
- Barack Obama sought the endorsement of the Chicago DSA.
- Barack Obama actively used the endorsement from the Chicago DSA.
- Barack Obama won his DSA-endorsed and backed campaign to secure his seat in the Illinois State Senate.
- Barack Obama continued his involvement with the Chicago DSA and received their endorsements in subsequent campaigns.
Obama's participation in and endorsement from the Chicago New Party and Chicago DSA, the local affiliate of the Democratic Socialists of America (which is the U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International) is quite clear:
- According to the write-up on the July 1995 meeting of Chicago DSA and New Party membership, Barack Obama was one of about 50 people attending out of their then-300 member local group. Other documents below will demonstrate Barack Obama attended and participated in subsequent meetings.
- The New Party rigorously evaluated its candidate endorsements and claimed "a winning ratio of 77 of 110 elections." This was no passive endorsement.
Candidates must be approved via a NP political committee. Once approved, candidates must sign a contract with the NP. The contract mandates that they must have a visible and active relationship with the NP.—New Ground
- Candidate Barack Obama participated as a panelist at the DSA-sponsored Town Meeting on February 25, 1996, entitled "Employment and Survival in Urban America". As reported in New Ground,
Barack Obama observed that Martin Luther King's March on Washington in the 1960s wasn't simply about civil rights but demanded jobs as well. Now the issue is again coming to the front, but he wished the issue was on the Democratic agenda not just on Buchanan's.
One of the themes that has emerged in Barack Obama's campaign is "what does it take to create productive communities", not just consumptive communities. It is an issue that joins some of the best instincts of the conservatives with the better instincts of the left. He felt the state government has three constructive roles to play.
The first is "human capital development". By this he meant public education, welfare reform, and a "workforce preparation strategy". Public education requires equality in funding. It's not that money is the only solution to public education's problems but it's a start toward a solution. The current proposals for welfare reform are intended to eliminate welfare but it's also true that the status quo is not tenable. A true welfare system would provide for medical care, child care and job training. While Barack Obama did not use this term, it sounded very much like the "social wage" approach used by many social democratic labor parties. By "workforce preparation strategy", Barack Obama simply meant a coordinated, purposeful program of job training instead of the ad hoc, fragmented approach used by the State of Illinois today.
The state government can also play a role in redistribution, the allocation of wages and jobs. As Barack Obama noted, when someone gets paid $10 million to eliminate 4,000 jobs, the voters in his district know this is an issue of power not economics. The government can use as tools labor law reform, public works and contracts.
- Obama subsequently secured his endorsement from the Chicago DSA
The local Democratic Socialists of America affiliate issued their Chicago DSA Endorsements in the March 19th Primary Election:
Barak Obama is running to gain the Democratic ballot line for Illinois Senate 13th District. The 13th District is Alice Palmer's old district, encompassing parts of Hyde Park and South Shore.
Mr. Obama graduated from Columbia University and promptly went into community organizing for the Developing Communities Project in Roseland and Altgeld Gardens on the far south side of Chicago. He went on to Harvard University, where he was editor of the Harvard Law Review. He graduated with a law degree. In 1992, he was Director of Illinois Project Vote, a voter registration campaign that made Carol Moseley Braun's election to the U.S. Senate much easier than it would have been. At present, he practices law in Judson Miner's law firm and is President of the board of the Annenberg Challenge Grant which is distributing some $50 million in grants to public school reform efforts.
What best characterizes Barak Obama is a quote from an article in Illinois Issues, a retrospective look at his experience as a community organizer while he was completing his degree at Harvard:
"… community organizations and organizers are hampered by their own dogmas about the style and substance of organizing. Most practice … a 'consumer advocacy' approach, with a focus on wrestling services and resources from outside powers that be. Few are thinking of harnessing the internal productive capacities, both in terms of money and people, that already exist in communities." (Illinois issues, September, 1988)
Luckily, Mr. Obama does not have any opposition in the primary. His opponents have all dropped out or were ruled off the ballot.
- Barack Obama Continued Attending Membership Meetings of the Chicago DSA New Party
Obama attended membership meeting on April 11, 1996 where he expressed his gratitude for their support. The report shared that "Barack Obama, victor in the 13th State Senate District, encouraged NPers to join in his task forces on Voter Education and Voter Registration."
- Obama won his election with the help of the Chicago DSA's New Party.
- Chicago DSA notes in 1998 that Barack Obama eulogized Saul Mendelson, co-founder of the Debs Dinner.
- In the fall of 1998, Chicago DSA's New Ground's editor offered nomination of Barack Obama for reelection.
- When Barack Obama challenged Bobby Rush for the 1st Congressional District in 2000, the Chicago DSA opted to recommend both:
For Congressman of the 1st Congressional District, the Executive Committee was faced with two very good candidates. As we are not making endorsements but merely recommendations, we felt no conflict in recommending both Bobby Rush and Barak Obama.
Bobby Rush is the incumbent Congressman. He was also a candidate for Mayor of Chicago in the last municipal elections, endorsed by Chicago DSA. While he hasn't always been the ideal Congressman from a left perspective (being a cosponsor of the "NAFTA for Africa" bill, for example), he's generally been quite good. To volunteer, call 773 264 7874. Contributions may be made to Citizens for Rush, 514 E. 95th St., Chicago, IL 60619.
Barak Obama is serving only his second term in the Illinois State Senate so he might be fairly charged with ambition, but the same might have be said of Bobby Rush when he ran against Congressman Charles Hayes. Obama also has put in time at the grass roots, working for five years as a community organizer in Harlem and in Chicago. When Obama participated in a 1996 UofC YDS Townhall Meeting on Economic Insecurity, much of what he had to say was well within the mainstream of European social democracy.
Barack Obama has a long-term and sustained relationship with the Chicago DSA, an affiliate of the Democratic Socialists of America, and with the Chicago New Party. He participated in multiple membership meetings and in DSA-sponsored events, repeatedly sought their endorsement. This does not answer all questions about Barack Obama's past relationships with multiple socialist groups. What the media needs to find out is has Barack Obama broken his ties with them. If so, when and why?
Cross-posted on my blog, The Independent View.