President Obama announced this week that he will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation’s highest civilian honor – to John Sweeney, president emeritus of the country’s biggest union, the AFL-CIO.
Sweeney is a socialist activist and a card-carrying member of the Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA, the principal American affiliate of the Socialist International. The DSA has demonstrated a close relationship with Obama over the years.
Sweeney is among 15 honorees that include former President George H.W. Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and poet Maya Angelou.
“These outstanding honorees come from a broad range of backgrounds and they’ve excelled in a broad range of fields,” stated Obama. “But all of them have lived extraordinary lives that have inspired us, enriched our culture, and made our country and our world a better place.”
Sweeney is a member of the DSA’s Boston chapter. He served as president of AFL-CIO from 1995 until his retirement last September.
He previously served for four terms as president of the controversial Service Employees International Union, or SEIU. During his administration, Sweeney famously aligned the SEIU with ACORN and other leftist groups.
Activist and author Joel Kotkin, a fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, observed how Sweeney brought communists into his union leadership.
“The public-sector unions have pushed the entire labor movement to the left,” he said. “The [SEIU] has embraced organizations with a New Left origin, such as ACORN and Cleveland’s Nine to Five, and has even set up its own gay and lesbian caucus. … The rise of these unions led to the elevation of SEIU’s boss, John Sweeney, to head of the labor federation.
“No George Meaney-style bread-and-butter unionist, Sweeney is an advocate of European-style democratic socialism,” said Kotkin. “He has opened the AFL-CIO to participation by delegates openly linked to the Communist Party, which enthusiastically backed his ascent. The U.S. Communist Party [CPUSA] says it is now ‘in complete accord’ with the AFL-CIO’s program. ‘The radical shift in both leadership and policy is a very positive, even historic change,’ wrote CPUSA National Chairman Gus Hall in 1996 after the AFL-CIO convention.”
Upon assuming the office of the AFL-CIO in 1995, Sweeney was quick to rescind one of the union’s founding rules that banned Communist Party members and loyalists from leadership positions within the federation and its unions. Sweeney welcomed Communist Party delegates to positions of power in his federation.
Linda Chavez and Daniel Gray, in their book “Betrayal: How union bosses shake down their bosses and corporate America,” state Sweeney placed a number of DSA allies in his union office.
The DSA’s official website carries an endorsement from Sweeney: “I’m proud to a member of a movement for change that puts the cause of working people at the heart of the matter.”
Communists hailed labor role in Obama win
WND previously reported Sweeney was quoted by Political Affairs, the official magazine of the Communist Party USA, hailing the role of labor unions in Obama’s 2008 election.
Sweeney’s AFL-CIO sponsored a 2008 poll showing union members supported Obama by a 68-30 margin and strongly influenced their family members.
According to the survey, Obama won among white men who are union members by 18 points. Union gun-owners backed Obama by 12 points, while union veterans voted for Obama by a 25-point margin. In the general population, Obama lost these groups by significant margins.
Political Affairs quoted Sweeney expressing hope labor unions can continue working with Obama.
“We have taken the first crucial steps to build a better future for our children and grandchildren. And what we’ve seen – the stunning voter participation and the common call for change – is an indication of the history we can continue to make together,” Sweeney said.
“The election is just step one in delivering the change we need,” Sweeney said. “Working men and women are poised to keep the energy pumping to help the Obama administration lead the change we need. There will be no gap or letdown.”
The communist magazine said priorities for labor unions are “regulating Wall Street and restoring fairness to international trade,” as well as “health-care reform” to provide coverage to “nearly 50 million people without insurance and make medical care affordable for all.”
Working within Democratic Party
Demonstrating the close relationship between the DSA and the Progressive Caucus, last month WND reported the Democratic chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee was caught on tape meeting with DSA leaders to discuss how the group can cooperate to strengthen President Obama and advance their “one-world” plans.
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who has a long history with the DSA, was recorded promoting a “one-world” government while asking the socialist group to organize against the war in Afghanistan and in support of Obama’s policies.
Conyers was a special guest at a two-day convention in Detroit in March 1982 that resulted in the formation of the DSA.
Conyers has spoken at numerous DSA events, including at the socialist group’s national dinner in 2008, where he was the keynote.
Conyers was one of 13 founders of the Congressional Black Caucus, which long has promoted far-left causes. He is the most prominent lawmaker lobbying to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted murderer of a Philadelphia police officer. He has advocated on behalf of the Marxist Nicaraguan Sandinista dictatorship and has called for the U.S. to end its sanctions against Fidel Castro’s communist regime.
As WND was first to report, the DSA has been linked closely to the Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus.
Until November 2002, the website of the Progressive Caucus was hosted by the DSA. Following news reports that drew attention to the congressional website being hosted by the socialist organization, the list of CPC names was moved to the website of Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., an avowed socialist, and eventually to its own site.
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 never has 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.
Obama himself spoke at a forum organized by the group at the University of Chicago in early 1996 called “Employment and Survival in Urban America.”
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 reportedly was 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 in1995 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