The Democratic Socialists of America(DSA) is America largest socialist organization with an easy to understand goal.Here's a quote from their website:
We are socialists because we reject an international economic order sustained by private profitSo,what's Barack Obama's relationship with an organization like the DSA?
The DSA has a Chicago branch called the highly original the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America.The Chicago branch has a publication called New Ground.Guess who's name shows up in New Ground? Barack Obama.Let's quote from the March - April, 1996 of New Ground:
Over three hundred people attended the first of two Town Meetings on Economic Insecurity on February 25 in Ida Noyes Hall at the University of Chicago. Entitled "Employment and Survival in Urban America", the meeting was sponsored by the UofC DSA Youth Section, Chicago DSA and University Democrats. The panelists were Toni Preckwinkle, Alderman of Chicago's 4th Ward; Barack Obama, candidate for the 13th Illinois Senate District; Professor William Julius Wilson, Center for the Study of Urban Inequality at the University of Chicago; Professor Michael Dawson, University of Chicago; and Professor Joseph Schwartz, Temple University and a member of DSA's National Political Committee.Notice the DSA connections in italics,notice panelist Barack Obama.It appears the socialist style conference wasn't there to debate whether Milton Friedman was more important to economics than Ronald Coase.But,in the very same issue of New Ground Barack Obama's name comes up again under :"Chicago DSA Endorsements in the March 19th Primary Election" only a few politicians got mentioned for endorsement:
The meeting demonstrated that economic insecurity is an issue not exclusive to Buchanan Republicans. It is a vital issue for the left as well. More than that, it illustrated that, unlike the Right, the democratic left has a number of potential solutions that go beyond mere demagoguery.
Alderman Preckwinkle began the discussion by observing that the Chicago City Council rarely takes up the great issues facing the city even when it is presented with legislation dealing with these issues. Hearings are not held. Legislation rarely makes it out of committee.
As examples, she used Alderman Joe Moore's (49th) Privatization Ordinance which was introduced last year and the Jobs and Living Wage Ordinance which will be formally introduced in the Council very soon.
The Privatization Ordinance (see January - February, 1995, New Ground, page 1) was a modest effort to regulate the manner in which city services were privatized. It would have made the process accountable and made sure savings were not accomplished at the expense of employees. The measure was consigned to oblivion in committee. While a majority of the Council "supported" the ordinance, an attempt to release it from committee failed for lack of votes.
The Jobs and Living Wage Ordinance (see January - February, 1996, New Ground, page 10) is a more ambitious attempt to require city contractors to pay a minimum living wage. The measure will be formally introduced into the Council in April or May. Alderman Preckwinkle was not optimistic about its prospects although the presence of the Democratic National Convention may provide some opportunities for better leverage.
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.
Finally, Illinois needs an industrial strategy. How do we create more jobs for everyone? Illinois has no strategy for encouraging high wage, high productivity jobs.
No opposition but the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America felt Obama was worth mentioning.Remember,dozens of other political races failed to get an endorsement.
Barack 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 Barack 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. But if you would like to contribute to his campaign, make the check payable to Friends of Barack Obama, 2154 E. 71st, Chicago, IL 60649. If you would like to become involved in his campaign, call the headquarters at (312) 363-1996.
We move on to New Ground 58 which is May - June, 1998 and Obama name comes up again:
On Friday, March 13th, Chicago's democratic left lost one of its champions, Saul Mendelson.Just who was Saul Mendelson the man Obama was giving a speech for? The Chicago DSA explains:
Saul Mendelson was a co-founder of the Debs Dinner in 1958. He was its treasurer for the first ten years and worked diligently to make it a success for 39 years. Saul received the Thomas - Debs Award in 1988.
Saul Mendelson was also a real believer in union movement. He fought for the right of teachers to bargain collectively and he was a member and leader of the American Federation of Teachers.
He was active in reform politics in Chicago, especially the campaigns for Harold Washington. He even ran for State Senator in 1970. He was the foreign policy specialist for the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA). Saul was the essence of the long distance runner.
Memorial services were held on March 29 and on April 2 by the Harold Washington College Chapter of the Cook County Teachers Union.
At the memorial service held at the 1st Unitarian Church on South Woodlawn, speaker after speaker recounted Saul's contributions. The service was ably MC'd by a retired colleague, Bob Clark. I spoke first and was followed by Saul's friend Deborah Meier, a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient who is now starting a new school in Boston. Amy Isaacs, National Director of the ADA, spoke of what Saul had meant on foreign affairs to the ADA. Other speakers included Senator Carol Moseley Braun, Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, State Senator Barak Obama, Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie and a good friend from New York, Myra Russell. The concluding remarks were made by an old friend, Harriet Lefley, who is now Professor of Psychology at the University of Miami Medical School.
The Saul Mendelson Memorial at Harold Washington College had colleagues speaking of what Saul had meant to the professors because of his union leadership as Chair of the Chapter. The event was organized by the present Chapter Chair, Mike Ruggeri.
For Jennie, his companion for 50 years and the mother of his children, and for all his friends, the two memorials were very important.
You joined the Socialist movement at the age of 18. You chaired the Socialist Club at the University of Chicago. You taught and inspired students at DuSable High School. You fought in the civil rights struggles with the NAACP, with CORE, and with the Negro American Labor Council. You have held fast to your belief in democratic socialism.
You fought for collective bargaining for public employees and were the vice-president of the Chicago Teachers Union High School Division when the first collective bargaining contract was achieved. You became a professor at Loop College (now Harold Washington College) and were its union chair from 1969 to 1986 in the Cook County College Local. Five of the times your union was forced on strike, you were your chapter's strike committee chair.
You have been active in reform politics for years, as chair of the state IVI-IPO, and presently as chair of the South Side IVI-IPO. You have served on the national board of the Americans for Democratic Action since 1966. You participated as an area coordinator in all stages of the 1983 and 1987 mayoral victories of Harold Washington and in Charles Hayes' Congressional campaigns. This year's Democratic Party Convention will be your third, and you go to Atlanta as a Second Congressional District delegate for Jesse Jackson.
You were one of the founders of this Dinner when it was known as the Debs Dinner and you served as its treasurer for ten years. On this seventh day of May, 1988, the Norman Thomas - Eugene V. Debs Award is given to you for living an active, dedicated life in the pursuit of the ideas and ideals of these two great socialists.
In New Ground 69 March - April, 2000 Obama again is mentioned.One of the few politicians mentioned for endorsement:
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.There you have it, the Chicago Democratic Socialists view Obama's views "well within the mainstream of European social democracy." Why did Barack Obama earn the affection of the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America? How often did Barack Obama meet with Chicago DSA? Is Obama a member of the Chicago DSA? Does Obama want to turn America into a European style socialist democracy?
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. To volunteer, call 773 846 2262. Contributions may be sent to Obama for Congress 2000, PO Box 497987, Chicago, IL 60649.
When Vermont Congressman,self-described socialist Bernie Sanders,decided he'd run for Senate:Obama came to Vermont to endorse him.Obama could have endorsed the logical candidate the slated Democratic candidate,but he choose socialist Bernie Sanders.Here's some of the quotes from the endorsement:Obama calls Bernie Sanders an "outstanding candidate",Obama says "things can change",Obama said "I want to make sure everybody is as enthusiastic as I am" concerning Bernie Sanders and "only a handful of wrong headed people don't like him." These amazing quotes are on this video the Obama campaign hopes you don't see.Obama doesn't seem to mind endorsing and hanging out with socialists.