Throwing Around The "Socialist" Word -- Barack Obama WAS A Member of the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America

“The democratic socialist vision does not rest upon one sole tradition; it draws upon Marxism, religious and ethical socialism, feminism, and other theories that critique human domination.”

According to archives from the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America website, Sen Barack Obama attended organizational meeting for the Chicago New Party and actively sought their endorsement in his bid for the Illinois Senate. In an account written by Bruce Bentley:

About 50 activists attended the Chicago New Party membership meeting in July. The purpose of the meeting was to update members on local activities and to hear appeals for NP support from four potential political candidates. The NP is being very active in organization building and politics. There are 300 members in Chicago. In order to build an organizational and financial base the NP is sponsoring house parties. Locally it has been successful both fiscally and in building a grassroots base. Nationwide it has resulted in 1000 people committed to monthly contributions. The NP’s political strategy is to support progressive candidates in elections only if they have a concrete chance to “win”. This has resulted in a winning ratio of 77 of 110 elections. 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.

The political entourage included Alderman Michael Chandler, William Delgado, chief of staff for State Rep Miguel del Valle, and spokespersons for State Sen. Alice Palmer, Sonya Sanchez, chief of staff for State Sen. Jesse Garcia, who is running for State Rep in Garcia’s District; and Barack Obama, chief of staff for State Sen. Alice Palmer. Obama is running for Palmer’s vacant seat.

Michael Chandler thanked the NP for its support in his electoral victory. His achievements to date included obtaining an increase of 30 police in the 24th Ward, citizen involvement in street clean-up and establishment of a 24th Ward Organization. William Delgado is exploring whether to run for State Rep in the 3rd District. He is a former social worker and spoke with compassion and dynamism. He considers himself a community activist who wants to be an advocate for change in the community. His presence in political office would be a benefit to the democratic left.

Indeed it was an exciting evening because the NP has two crucial components. First, the NP is a true “Rainbow Coalition” consisting of both young and aged African-Americans, Hispanics and Caucasians. Although ACORN and SEIU Local 880 were the harbingers of the NP there was a strong presence of CoC and DSA (15% DSA). Moreover a good 8% were younger Generation X’ers who are critically needed. A more diverse representation of Labor is missing. Secondly, the NP is taking “action.” Four political candidates were “there” seeking NP support. The NP is strategically organizing via house parties and tactically entering only elections that they can win. Furthermore they are organizing a campaign on the “Living Wage Ordinance” in the Chicago City Council.

Note that, in addition to Sen Obama, our good friends of ACORN and SEIU were both present and prominent. Cozy little group.

Sen Obama has insisted that he was never a member of the New Party. Does this, or should this, matter to an American public more centered on Hope and Change, and less on actual public policy? The short answer is YES! The long answer follows.While Sen Obama is today quick to denounce the New Party, that organization was once proud to tout Sen Obama as a young star of the future in that party. Following his election in 1996 to the Illinois Senate, his victory was widely hailed in the New Party News. I have been unable to find any denunciation of the group from Sen Obama at that time.

Photocopies of the pages of the New Party News appear on the website New Zeal, and are all linked at The Minority Report.

By this time, most Americans who have been the product of a public school education over the past 20 years, are wondering what is wrong with being a Socialist. The word has ceased to have meaning in most people’s minds.

This might be a perfect time, therefore, to look again at the CDSA website, and to examine what their belief systems really entail.

The Democratic Socialist Vision

Democratic socialists believe that the individuality of each human being can only be developed in a society embodying the values of liberty, equality, and solidarity. These beliefs do not entail a crude conception of equality that conceives of human beings as equal in all respects. Rather, if human beings are to develop their distinct capacities they must be accorded equal respect and opportunities denied them by the inequalities of capitalist society, in which the life opportunities of a child born in the inner city are starkly less than that of a child born in an affluent suburb. A democratic community committed to the equal moral worth of each citizen will socially provide the cultural and economic necessities food, housing, quality education, healthcare, childcare for the development of human individuality.

Achieving this diversity and opportunity necessitates a fundamental restructuring of our socio-economic order. While the freedoms that exist under democratic capitalism are gains of popular struggle to be cherished, democratic socialists argue that the values of liberal democracy can only be fulfilled when the economy as well as the government is democratically controlled.

We cannot accept capitalism’s conception of economic relations as “free and private,” because contracts are not made among economic equals and because they give rise to social structures which undemocratically confer power upon some over others. Such relationships are undemocratic in that the citizens involved have not freely deliberated upon the structure of those institutions and how social roles should be distributed within them (e.g., the relationship between capital and labor in the workplace or men and women in child rearing). We do not imagine that all institutional relations would wither away under socialism, but we do believe that the basic contours of society must be democratically constructed by the free deliberation of its members.

The democratic socialist vision does not rest upon one sole tradition; it draws upon Marxism, religious and ethical socialism, feminism, and other theories that critique human domination. Nor does it contend that any laws of history preordain the achievement of socialism. The choice for socialism is both moral and political, and the fullness of its vision will never be permanently secured.

A more complete article including all links is available at The Minority Report