By Aaron Klein
A 1996 print advertisement in a local Chicago newspaper shows President Obama was the speaker at an event sponsored and presented by the Democratic Socialists of America, DSA.
Buzzfeed.com reporter Andrew Kaczynski posted on his Twitter account an image of the Hyde Park Herald ad for the February 25, 1996 DSA event, billed as “the first townhall meeting on economic insecurity.”
WND first reported on the event in 2008.
Obama has evidenced a larger relationship with the DSA.
The panellists at the 1996 DSA event included Obama, then a candidate for the 13th Illinois Senate District; William Julius Wilson, a longtime DSA activist from the Center for the Study of Urban Inequality at the University of Chicago; Professor Michael Dawson from the University of Chicago and Professor Joseph Schwartz, a member of DSA’s National Political Committee.
According to the archive of the DSA’s March-April 1996 newsletter, New Ground, reviewed by WND, Obama reportedly addressed a crowd of over three hundred people, where he discussed a theme from his campaign – “what does it take to create productive communities?”
Obama reportedly outlined how government can play “constructive” roles in bettering society.
Reported the DSA newsletter:
“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.”
Working within Democratic Party
The DSA is a member of the Socialist International, the world’s largest socialist group.
As WND was first to report the DSA has been closely linked to the Democratic Party, in particular to the party’s Progressive Caucus.
Until 1999, the website of the Progressive Caucus was hosted by the DSA. Following an expose of the link between the two organizations, the Progressive Caucus established its own website under the auspices of Congress.
The Democratic Socialists of America’s chief organizing goal is to work within the Democratic Party and remove the stigma attached to “socialism” in the eyes of most Americans.
“Stress our Democratic Party strategy and electoral work,” explains an organizing document of the DSA. “The Democratic Party is something the public understands, and association with it takes the edge off. Stressing our Democratic Party work will establish some distance from the radical subculture and help integrate you to the milieu of the young liberals.”
Nevertheless, as WND reported, the goal of the DSA has never been deeply hidden. Prior to the cleanup of its website in 1999, the DSA included a song list featuring “The Internationale,” the worldwide anthem of communism and socialism.
Another song on the site was “Red Revolution,” sung to the tune of “Red Robin.” The lyrics went: “When the Red Revolution brings its solution along, along, there’ll be no more lootin’ when we start shootin’ that Wall Street throng.”
Another song removed after WND’s expose was “Are You Sleeping, Bourgeoisie?” The lyrics went: “Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping? Bourgeoisie, Bourgeoisie. And when the revolution comes, we’ll kill you all with knives and guns, Bourgeoisie, Bourgeoisie.”
Obama connected to socialist group
Top Democratic Socialists of America members have been closely linked for years to Obama.
Quentin Young, considered the father of the U.S. single-payer health-care movement, is a longtime Democratic Socialists of America activist. Young has had a relationship with Obama, particularly in the 1990s, when he reportedly advised Obama on health care.
Young was reportedly present at a 1995 meeting at the home of former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers, who was said to have launched Obama’s political career.
Young has been active in Chicago socialist circles and was previously accused of membership in a communist group. In 1992, Chicago’s branch of the Democratic Socialists of America awarded Young, a member, with their highest honor – the Debs Award.
In a 2008 article in the official Communist Party USA magazine, Young noted Obama previously expressed support for a single-payer universal health-care program, although he later waffled when asked about his position.
As an Illinois state senator representing a mostly black district on the South Side of Chicago, Obama publicly supported universal health care. He also co-sponsored the Bernardin Amendment, which did not pass but would have amended the Illinois State Constitution to add health care to the list of basic rights for residents.
Meanwhile, Obama spoke at the March 29, 1998, memorial service for Chicago Democratic Socialists of America member Saul Mendelson.
Timuel Black, a member activist, mediated political disputes on behalf of Obama in the 1990s and was reportedly involved in Obama’s campaign committee during his successful 2004 Senate race.
Longtime member and activist Arnold Wolf was a member of “Rabbis for Obama” and has held fundraisers in his home for Obama, including a function in 1995 that was aimed at introducing Obama to the Hyde Park activist community.
Eliseo Medina, international executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, has been honored by Democratic Socialists of America. During the most recent presidential campaign, Medina served on Obama’s National Latino Advisory Council.
WND reported Medina, speaking at a 2009 Washington, D.C., conference, declared granting citizenship to millions of illegal aliens would expand the progressive electorate and help ensure a progressive governing coalition for the long term.
With research by Brenda J. Elliott