Barack Obama’s 2008 political campaign may not be the only ones caught making possibly misleading statements about the sitting president’s alleged membership in the 1990’s socialist-leaning New Party.
The now defunct New Party’s founder, University of Wisconsin Professor Joel Rogers, is currently denying his organization had ever had any members, thus making it impossible for Obama to have ever been an official member.
Speaking last week to Buzzfeed.com editor Ben Smith, Rogers stated of Obama’s purported membership: “I have no idea what the Chicago people were saying about him being a member. …We didn’t have membership, it wasn’t a membership organization.”
Rogers gave a similar statement to Smith in 2008. At the time, Smith, writing for Politico.com, contacted Rogers for comment on reports Obama was a New Party member.”
We didn’t really have members,” said Rogers at the time.
WND, however, found scores of reports from the 1990s describing members of the New Party.
In a Nov. 1, 1995 article entitled, “Third-party blues: Do African Americans need an independent party?” for example, Michael Fisby of the Black Enterprise interviewed New Party founder Dan Cantor and reported on New Party members.
“The little-known New Party has about 5,000 members, half of whom are black, and has run candidates in 115 elections, from school boards to zoning commissions,” reported Fisby. “They’ve won an astonishing 77 races.”
On Feb. 10, 1997, The Nation magazine featured an article about the New Party’s New York branch, also describing members of the party.
Reported The Nation: “The New Party … is the only group with dues-paying members (a hundred each in Brooklyn and Long Island chapters) and boasts the only paid organizer in the field.”
In 2009, WND reported on newspaper evidence from the New Party’s own literature listing several new members of the New Party, including Obama.
At the time, Obama’s camp categorically denied he was ever a member of the New Party, which sought to elect members to public office with the aim of moving the Democratic Party far leftward to ultimately form a new political party with a socialist agenda.
The denial came amid reports of Obama’s participation with the party, including several articles by WND.
WND also conducted an exclusive interview with Marxist activist Carl Davidson, a founder of the New Party, who recounted Obama’s participation.
Last week, researcher and author Stanley Kurtz, writing at National Review Online, reported on documentation from the updated records of Illinois ACORN at the Wisconsin Historical Society that “definitively establishes” that Obama was a member of the New Party.
Kurtz reported Obama also signed a “contract” promising to publicly support and associate himself with the New Party while in office.
In 2008, Obama’s Fight the Smears campaign website quoted Carol Harwell, who managed Obama’s 1996 campaign for the Illinois Senate, as stating: “Barack did not solicit or seek the New Party endorsement for state senator in 1995.”
Fight the Smears conceded the New Party did support Obama in 1996 but denied that Obama had ever joined.
According to documents from the Democratic Socialists of America, the New Party worked with ACORN to promote its candidates. ACORN, convicted in massive, nationwide voter fraud cases, was a point of controversy for Obama during his 2008 campaign for president.
Becoming a New Party member required some effort on behalf of the politician. Candidates must be approved by the party’s political committee and, once approved, must sign a contract mandating they will have a “visible and active relationship” with the party.
If Obama indeed signed the contract, not only would his campaign be caught in a lie but it could also prove highly embarrassing for him at a time when he is fighting claims, including from Mitt Romney’s camp, that his policies are socialist.
Also, Obama’s 2012 campaign slogan of “Forward” has been criticized for its use of a historic socialist slogan.
The socialist-oriented goals of the New Party were enumerated on its old website.
Among the New Party’s stated objectives were “full employment, a shorter work week and a guaranteed minimum income for all adults; a universal ‘social wage’ to include such basic benefits as health care, child care, vacation time and lifelong access to education and training; a systematic phase-in of comparable worth; and like programs to ensure gender equity.”
The New Party stated it also sought “the democratization of our banking and financial system – including popular election of those charged with public stewardship of our banking system, worker-owner control over their pension assets [and] community-controlled alternative financial institutions.”
Many of the New Party’s founding members were Democratic Socialists of America leaders and members of Committees of Correspondence, a breakaway of the Communist Party USA.
Last month, WND reported on a 1996 print advertisement in a local Chicago newspaper that shows Obama was the speaker at an event sponsored and presented by the Democratic Socialists of America, the DSA.
WND first reported on the event in 2010.
Obama listed as New Party member
While Obama’s campaign in 2008 denied the then–presidential candidate was ever an actual member of the New Party, print copies of the New Party News, the party’s official newspaper, show Obama posing with New Party leaders, listing him as a New Party member and printing quotes from him as a member.
The party’s spring 1996 newspaper boasted: “New Party members won three other primaries this Spring in Chicago: Barack Obama (State Senate), Michael Chandler (Democratic Party Committee) and Patricia Martin (Cook County Judiciary).”
The paper quoted Obama saying, “These victories prove that small ‘d’ democracy can work.”
The newspaper lists other politicians it endorsed who were not members but specifies Obama as a New Party member.
New Ground, the newsletter of Chicago’s Democratic Socialists of America, reported in its July/August 1996 edition that Obama attended a New Party membership meeting April 11, 1996, in which he expressed his gratitude for the group’s support and “encouraged NPers (New Party members) to join in his task forces on voter education and voter registration.”
With research by Brenda J. Elliott