by Sharon Rondeau

(Aug. 11, 2015) — In the February 21, 1996 edition of the Hyde Park Herald, an announcement of an event sponsored by the University of Chicago’s branch of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) listed then-Illinois State Senate candidate Barack Obama as a featured speaker.

02-21-96 DSA Obama article

The title of the event, which included several other guest speakers, was “Employment and Survival in Urban America” and was described as “The First Town Meeting on Economic Insecurity.”

As reported by KeyWiki, beginning in the early 1990s, Obama fraternized with numerous members of the DSA, which helped to form the New Party, “an electoral alliance dedicated to electing leftist candidates to office.”  Obama reportedly sought the endorsement of the New Party for his state senate campaign, although Obama’s 2008 campaign denied that he had ever been a member of any political entity other than the Democrat Party.

Today, the DSA declares itself “the largest socialist organization in the United States, and the principal U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International. DSA’s members are building progressive movements for social change while establishing an openly democratic socialist presence in American communities and politics.”

Some of the group’s goals are to “achieve equitable distribution of resources,” foster “sustainable growth,” and reduce student-loan debt.

In 2008, when Joseph Wurzelbacher questioned Obama about his proposed business tax plan, Wurzelbacher became the subject of scrutiny and ridicule by bloggers and some in the mainstream media.  While left-leaning media criticized Obama’s opponent, Sen. John McCain, for mischaracterizing Obama’s response to Wurzelbacher, which included the phrase, “spread the wealth around.”

In 2010, Obama signed a law to “ensure that Americans can afford their student loan payments” which ties monthly payments to income and erases the balance of loans for individuals choosing “public service” as a career.

Yearly dues” are required for official membership in the DSA.  While the organization repudiates “private profit,” it charges various fees for its newsletters and other publications “as determined by the National Political Committee.”

The Chicago branch of the DSA has endorsed U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders for president for 2016 as “a lifelong champion of the public programs and democratic rights that empower working class people. His candidacy could help expand both the progressive movement and the democratic socialist voice within that movement.”

In June 2012, National Review‘s Stanley Kurtz reported that “On January 11, 1996, Obama joined the New Party, a radical socialist political movement deeply opposed to capitalism and of the opinion that the Democratic Party was far too moderate.  The New Party sought to transform America into the sort of socialist democracy that is common in Europe.”

The first speaker at the 1996 event, William Julius Wilson, taught at the University of Chicago from 1972 to 1996, when he was offered a position at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.  He is currently director of the Joblessness and Urban Poverty Research Program.

The second speaker, Michael Dawson, continues to teach Political Science at the University of Chicago, focusing on “African-Americans,” urban poverty and public policy.

Obama was listed third in the roster of speakers and was at the time seeking the primary nomination for the 13th senatorial district in the Illinois legislature vacated by colleague Alice Palmer.  According to Trevor Loudon of the New Zeal blog, Obama served as Palmer’s Chief of Staff as she launched a primary bid for the U.S. Congress, working alongside property developer Tony Rezko, who is now serving a ten-and-one-half-year federal prison sentence for “corruption.”

Palmer lost the congressional primary and attempted to reinstate herself as a candidate for state senate, but Obama, who had been her choice to fill her seat, “employed Chicago rules” to disqualify three of his opponents, including Palmer, according to CNN.

Then-Fourth Ward Chicago Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, who is now president of the Cook County, IL Board of Commissioners, supports Obama’s Clean Power Plan and opposes payday loan companies, as does Obama.  According to The Chicago Tribune, Preckwinkle claimed in June that Cook County is “grappling with it’s [sic] own economic crisis.”

The last featured speaker, Prof. Joseph Schwartz of Temple University, according to his current biography, “serves as a Vice-Chair of the Democratic Socialists of America and is a member of its National Political Committee.”

Along with local branches of the DSA, the “University of Chicago Democrats” sponsored the event.

As a state senator, Obama advocated a single-payer health care system, or “universal” coverage, as reported in archived articles in the Hyde Park Herald and the Rockford Register Star, which covered local politics closely.  In 2007, after declaring himself a presidential candidate, Obama reiterated his position.

In a January 2012 editorial published at The Hill, author Armstrong Williams opined, “The mainstream media basically gets to choose our president based on the degree to which they choose to scrutinize each candidate. Those they champion (Obama) are barely vetted at all, whereas those they disdain are dissected to the nth degree.”

On July 30, prior to the first Republican debate, Trump’s spokesman stated that the campaign would not allow the media to “dictate” when it releases statements on policy positions.

Some in the mainstream media deny that Obama is a socialist.  Writing for Forbes in 2012, economist Paul Roderick Gregory opined, “Obama is a socialist.”

After Obama’s ascension to the White House, Newsweek magazine proclaimed, “We Are All Socialists Now.”

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Obama belonged to a branch of the Socialist Party. Machiavellianistically and covertly he became a Democrat so that he could be “elected”. Bernie Sanders, a socialist, is doing so overtly.