Obama's collectivist cred checks out

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While Sen. Barack Obama's association with Weathermen co-founder William Ayers has gained publicity on the campaign trail, his active participation in socialist organizations during his days as a local Chicago politician are less well-known.

Mr. Obama has had a long association with both the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)-affiliated New Party and the DSA's Chicago chapter dating back to his first run for the Illinois state Senate in 1996. (The DSA is the American affiliate of the Socialist International, which includes Nicaragua's Sandinsta Party among others.) That year, he addressed a gathering of Young Democratic Socialists (YDS) at the University of Chicago.

The address was documented in the March-April 1996 edition of the Chicago DSA's publication, The New Ground. In that edition, DSA columnist Bob Roman described Mr. Obama's views of the welfare system as sounding "much like the 'social wage' approach used by many social democratic parties." The Chicago DSA enthusiastically endorsed Mr. Obama's unopposed candidacy during the March 19, 1996 primary election.

"Luckily, Mr. Obama does not have any opposition in the primary. His opponents have all dropped out or were ruled off the ballot," The New Ground urged its readers. "But if you would like to contribute to his campaign, make the check payable to Friends of Barack Obama ... If you would like to become involved in his campaign, call the headquarters ..."

The Chicago DSA renewed its recommendation, although not endorsement, of Mr. Obama's unsuccessful 2000 congressional campaign. (It did not formally endorse Mr. Obama because it believed Bobby Rush equally favored its goals.) Once again that year, The New Ground trumpeted Mr. Obama's socialist credentials.

"When Obama participated in a 1996 U[niversity] of C[hicago] YDS Townhall Meeting on Economic Insecurity, much of what he had to say was well within the mainstream of European social democracy," Mr. Roman wrote in the publication's March-April 2000 edition.

While Mr. Obama aligned himself with socialists during his days as a Chicago community activist and politician, he also actively participated in their activities.

This is evinced by Mr. Obama's involvement with the New Party. Mr. Obama needed to sign a contract to be endorsed by the New Party. The contract, according to the September-October 1995 edition of The New Ground, mandated he had to maintain a visible and active relationship with them, and its support was contingent on their ability to win.

The same edition attested, in an article written by Bruce Bentley, that Mr. Obama had attended a July 1995 New Party membership meeting representing then-state Sen. Alice Palmer as her chief of staff.

"Obama is running for Palmer's vacant seat," Mr. Bentley wrote.

His involvement with the New Party is further substantiated in a story that appeared in the July-August 1996 edition of The New Ground.

"Barack Obama, victor in the 13th state Senate District, encouraged [New Party members] to jin his task forces on Voter Education and Voter Registration," Mr. Bentley wrote in that edition.

Mr. Obama's affiliation with the New Party is significant. Writing in Human Events, Erick Erickson, managing editor of RedState.com, traces their history.

A union activist, Sandy Pope, and Joel Rogers, a University of Wisconsin professor, established the New Party in 1992. It described itself as being "socialist democratic."

However, the roots of the party go back to 1988 following Jesse Jackson's failed presidential campaign. Mr. Jackson's labor coordinator, Dan Cantor, and Mr. Rogers wanted to create an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans.

Mr. Rogers developed the idea of fusion, which states that a candidate could be both a Democrat and a New Party member. By doing so, the candidate indicates that he is left-wing as opposed to center-left. By working within the Democratic Party, the New Party could move Democrats away from the center.

The New Party's creators also wanted to merge what they felt was a fractured American Left. They wanted to combine all the factions with a unified ideology and become the predominant political force.

Part of this equation was another group that Mr. Obama joined - ACORN. A 1995 edition of New Ground said, "In Chicago, the New Party's biggest asset and biggest liability is ACORN." The party gave ACORN monthly membership recruitment quotas.

Recently, ACORN's voter registration activities have resulted in convictions of ACORN employees across the United States for voter registration fraud and many more allegations and ongoing investigations for the same reason.

The city of Chicago has long been a hotbed of leftist thought going back to the days of the Haymarket Riot and bombing of May 4,1886, and it was the site of the founding of the Communist Party USA in 1919. Indeed, in 1970 student radicals toppled a statue that was erected in honor of a police officer killed in that bombing.

Soon after arriving in 1992 to work as a director for the ACORN affiliate Project Vote, Barack Obama, the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review immersed himself in that culture.


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