Obama socialist cred checks out

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Evidence indicates union-backed candidate was member of radical political group

The law firm at which Sen. Barack Obama served as counsel led a legal charge to overturn state bans on allowing politicians to run as members of more than one party.

A primary benefactor of the case – which the firm took to the Supreme Court – was the radical leftist New Party, which has close ties to the Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland law firm, where Obama was employed until 2004.

Barack Obama pictured in New Party publication (Courtesy New Zeal blog)

The information comes amid evidence that emerged last week showing Obama belonged to the New Party, which sought to elect members to public office with the aim of moving the Democratic Party far leftward to ultimately form a new political party with a socialist agenda.

In 1997, Davis, Miner and Barnhill's Madison, Wisc.-based partner Sarah Siskind reportedly went to the Supreme Court to lead the main fight to allow electoral "fusion," which enabled candidates to run on two tickets simultaneously, attracting voters from both parties. The New Party relied on fusion and went defunct in 1998, one year after Siskind lost the Supreme Court case.

Siskind is the wife of Joel Rogers, a socialist activist and University of Wisconsin-Madison law professor who was the co-founder and national chair of the New Party. Siskind, who worked with Obama at the firm and later donated to Obama's presidential campaign, was also a key attorney representing the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, which maintained a close alliance with the New Party.

The New Party, formed by members of the Democratic Socialists for America and leaders of an offshoot of the Community Party USA, was an electoral alliance whose aim was to help elect politicians to office who espouse its policies. Among New Party members was linguist and radical activist Noam Chomsky.

Several blogs, including Powerline, previously documented that while running for the Illinois state Senate in 1996 as a Democrat, Obama actively sought and received the endorsement of the socialist-oriented New Party, with some blogs claiming Obama was a member of the controversial party.

Obama's "Fight the Smears" website claimed the presidential candidate was never a member of the New Party.

But the New Zeal blog dug up print copies of the New Party News, the party's official newspaper, which show Obama posing with New Party leaders, list him as a New Party member and include quotes from him.

The party's Spring 1996 newspaper boasted: "New Party members won three other primaries this Spring in Chicago: Barack Obama (State Senate), Michael Chandler (Democratic Party Committee) and Patricia Martin (Cook County Judiciary). The paper quoted Obama saying "these victories prove that small 'd' democracy can work."

The newspaper lists other politicians it endorsed who were not members, but it specifies Obama as a New Party member.

New Ground, the newsletter of Chicago's Democratic Socialists for America, reported in its July/August 1996 edition that Obama attended a New Party membership meeting April 11, 1996, in which he expressed his gratitude for the group's support and "encouraged NPers (New Party members) to join in his task forces on Voter Education and Voter Registration."

Becoming a New Party member requires some effort on behalf of the politician. Candidates must be approved by the party's political committee and, once approved, must sign a contract mandating they will have a "visible and active relationship" with the party.

Following the initial reports of Obama's purported membership in the New Party, Obama associate and former Chicago New Party activist Carl Davidson posted a statement on several blogs claiming his former party was not socialist, but he admitted it worked with ACORN.

"[The New Party] was a pragmatic party of 'small d democracy' mainly promoting economic reforms like the living wage and testing the fusion tactic, common in many countries but only operational in New York in the U.S. The main trend within it was ACORN, an Alinskyist outfit, which is hardly Marxist," wrote Davidson.

But the socialist goals of the New Party were enumerated on its old website.

Among the New Party's stated objectives were "full employment, a shorter work week, and a guaranteed minimum income for all adults; a universal 'social wage' to include such basic benefits as health care, child care, vacation time, and lifelong access to education and training; a systematic phase-in of comparable worth and like programs to ensure gender equity."

The New Party stated it also sought "the democratization of our banking and financial system – including popular election of those charged with public stewardship of our banking system, worker-owner control over their pension assets, community-controlled alternative financial institutions."

Many of the New Party's founding members were Democratic Socialists for America leaders and members of Committees of Correspondence, a breakaway of the Communist Party USA. Obama attended several DSA events and meetings, including a DSA-sponsored town hall meeting Feb. 25, 1996, entitled "Employment and Survival in Urban America." He sought and received an endorsement from the DSA.

According to DSA documents, the New Party worked with ACORN to promote its candidates. ACORN, convicted in massive, nationwide voter fraud cases, has been a point of controversy for Obama over the presidential candidate's ties to the group.

In 1995, the DSA's New Ground newsletter stated, "In Chicago, the New Party's biggest asset and biggest liability is ACORN.

"Like most organizations, ACORN is a mixed bag. On one hand, in Chicago, ACORN is a group that attempts to organize some of the most depressed communities in the city. Chicago organizers for ACORN and organizers for SEIU Local 880 have been given modest monthly recruitment quotas for new New Party members. On the other hand, like most groups that depend on canvassing for fundraising, it's easy enough to find burned out and disgruntled former employees. And ACORN has not had the reputation for being interested in coalition politics – until recently and, happily, not just within the New Party."


1 comment:

Carl Davidson said...

Good work guys!

You're getting closer! Joel Rodgers indeed was a major player in the New Party, but you'll find that, while he'll 'dialogue' with DSA on a panel about 'independent politics,' I doubt you'll find anything from him making or declaring it a socialist party.

But you might be able to find stuff from him, and many others, saying that it SHOULDN'T be a socialist party, but should be exactly what it says it was, a pragmatic small 'd' democracy pushing wider democratic reforms and economic justice. In case you wonder what that means, one thing that built the New Party in Chicago, and got one Alderman elected, was business and agencies who put a toxic dump in a poor neighbor near where children play. Getting rid of it was what we meant by 'economic justice.' And don't get too excited--Aldermanic positions in Chicago are nonpartisan, even though, obviously, they're almost all Democrats in that town.

By the way, the Socialist Scholars Conference in NYC was indeed a project of some DSA people for many years, but it was a mass event. All sorts of people attended them, even Republicans--no 'socialism' signup sheets required.

Now this may be too nuanced for you, but in IL, Obama ran simply as a Democrat, not on two party lines. The New Party had no standing as an electoral entity in Chicago, and had no candidates on the ballot. It's status was the same as any community group that supported various candidates. Fusion voting, which used to be allowed in our country, and was the reason for the success of the Populists and Non-Partisan Leagues in the 1890-1920 era in many states, was taken from us by the upper crust wanting to keep the game confined to the duopoly. Trying to gain official status for fusion voting was one of the key reasons for the New Party, ie, we were trying to get ballot status as such, but couldn't.

Here's your problem. You start with a conclusion, ie, you want to red-bait Obama. But he's not a red, just a decent liberal, so it's not going to be easy.

So you're going into every nook and cranny to find something 'socialist' you can pin on him, and the best you can come up with is the New Party, which isn't socialist, and DSA, which is socialist only in the sense that, say, Tony Benn is, ie, the far right wing of the left. So you have to show Obama is a member of DSA, but he's not. No luck there.

So then you have to make the New Party a creature of DSA, which everyone involved with it knows is a joke, so not much there, either.

So you have next to see if Obama ever went to a public meeting with DSA as a sponsor or speaker. Some luck there, but the problem is all kinds of people, left to right, went to the same meetings, so that doesn't help either.

By now, your only hope left is to check his bookshelf to see if he's every READ A BOOK by a socialist, but since you probably have read one too, that doesn't help.

I keep telling you that there's no center to peeling this onion, there's no 'there' there, but you won't listen.

But keep at it! It'll keep you out of mischief on other fronts for a week or so.

Then you'll have only one thing left to call Obama: "Mr. President..."

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