Democratic candidate Barack Obama was a member of the socialist New Party during the 1990s, according to new evidence unearthed by web bloggers, receiving the party’s endorsement for his state Senate run in 1996. Reports earlier this summer that Obama was associated with the New Party were vigorously denied by the Obama campaign and the New Party, but researchers examining Internet archives have found New Party documents clearly indicating Obama was a member of the party, received its endorsement, encouraged Party members to work with him in the Illinois statehouse, and signed a contract agreeing to maintain a relationship with the Marxist-led party during his senate term.
The New Party was active in the United States from 1992 to 1998, and was strongly affiliated with Marxist and socialist organizations including the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). The Party’s Chicago chapter included a large number of Maoist and communist members, and a large number of members of the leftist organizing group ACORN. The New Party practiced electoral fusion, an attempt to make third parties more viable by allowing candidates to run on the tickets of more than one party and “fuse” the votes received on those party lines. For example, a candidate could run as both a Democrat and as a New Party member, and accumulate votes from both entries on the ballot. A handful of US states permit fusion-type ballots (Illinois not among them), and the New Party achieved some success in promoting the campaigns of far-left candidates in liberal areas of the country. The avowed purpose of the New Party was to push the Democratic party to the left and to usher in socialist governance in the United States under a Democratic label. A 1997 Supreme Court ruling held that there was no right to the fusion mechanism if a state did not permit it, shutting down New Party hopes that the fusion model could be spread through judicial fiat to all 50 states. The party dwindled in significance and although it maintains a web presence, does not appear to be currently active in politics.
There will be considerable wailing from the left about McCarthyism and guilt by association as this story gains circulation and traction. I believe these complaints to be unfounded. It is one thing to smear artistic figures for their perhaps-naive participation in a totalitarian political movement; it is another thing to accurately report on the political affiliations of a candidate for the nation’s highest office. The American people have a right to know what their candidates truly espouse, and we have a right to know the truth about what our candidates have done in their lives before they threw their hat into the ring. It is not illegal to belong to a socialist, even a communist, party in the United States. As part of our political freedoms, we are entitled to believe what we wish, and to work peacefully to have those beliefs enshrined into law. Free marketeers, communists, socialists, classical liberals, protectionists – all are welcome in our free polity to advocate for their beliefs. However, a key element of our electoral system’s integrity is the idea that people must stand up for their beliefs.
It is not acceptable to run for office as a mixed-market liberal while hiding a socialist or communist agenda, though. Is that what Barack Obama is doing? The fact is, we don’t know – because he will not tell us. He has denied or minimized these affiliations with hard-left figures, denied his membership in these Marxist political parties, and denied holding these beliefs. He has refused to discuss his college years, refused to discuss his membership and participation in hard-left groups and his activism on hard-left issues. We are told to ignore the past and to simply trust him on his intentions for the future. I would have a hard time mustering that trust for any political figure; to extend that trust to a figure with a track record of belonging to socialist political groups and lying about that membership would be a dangerous folly.
Will the mainstream media cover what once were allegations but which now appear to be proven facts? It will be difficult for them to justify not covering them, after the extensive coverage of the connections between Todd Palin and the Alaska Independence Party. The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and MSNBC, among others, are MSM outlets which devoted considerable ink and pixels to covering the Palin-AIP connection. If the media do not cover this story, conservatives can easily be forgiven for seeing that as another truckload of evidence that many figures in the media are not covering the election, they are working as adjunct staffers for the Obama campaign. If the husband of a vice-presidential candidate’s membership in a political party is news, then it is manifestly and undeniably obvious that the membership of a presidential candidate in a political party is news. Some elements of the MSM have recognized that they must cover these issues; CNN has broken from the herd and begun to report the truth about Obama’s long-time and substantial association with unrepentant domestic terrorist William Ayers.
A large number of web blogs have covered this issue, and material for this story (other than that directly linked in the story text) was found at Ace of Spades, Nice Deb, No Quarter, Red State, No Minister, NewsBusters, PoliGazette, and PowerLine.
Update: The New Party’s statement of principles can be found online here.