Senator Obama has been tagged as the most liberal democrat in the U.S. Senate and it seems his earliest political ties included the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America (CDSA). During a meeting with the organization in the fall of 1995, Mr. Obama sought the support of the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America’s “New Party” for his first run for political office. According to the CDSA’s New Party update in the September-October 1995 timeframe, “Four political candidates were ‘there’ seeking NP support.”
The Chicago Democratic Socialists of America’s New Party Update is quoted in full below.
Chicago New Party Update
by Bruce Bentley
About 50 activists attended the Chicago New Party membership meeting in July. The purpose of the meeting was to update members on local activities and to hear appeals for NP support from four potential political candidates. The NP is being very active in organization building and politics. There are 300 members in Chicago. In order to build an organizational and financial base the NP is sponsoring house parties. Locally it has been successful both fiscally and in building a grassroots base. Nationwide it has resulted in 1000 people committed to monthly contributions. The NP’s political strategy is to support progressive candidates in elections only if they have a concrete chance to “win”. This has resulted in a winning ratio of 77 of 110 elections. Candidates must be approved via a NP political committee. Once approved, candidates must sign a contract with the NP. The contract mandates that they must have a visible and active relationship with the NP.
The political entourage included Alderman Michael Chandler, William Delgado, chief of staff for State Rep Miguel del Valle, and spokespersons for State Sen. Alice Palmer, Sonya Sanchez, chief of staff for State Sen. Jesse Garcia, who is running for State Rep in Garcia’s District; and Barack Obama, chief of staff for State Sen. Alice Palmer. Obama is running for Palmer’s vacant seat.
Michael Chandler thanked the NP for its support in his electoral victory. His achievements to date included obtaining an increase of 30 police in the 24th Ward, citizen involvement in street clean-up and establishment of a 24th Ward Organization. William Delgado is exploring whether to run for State Rep in the 3rd District. He is a former social worker and spoke with compassion and dynamism. He considers himself a community activist who wants to be an advocate for change in the community. His presence in political office would be a benefit to the democratic left.
Indeed it was an exciting evening because the NP has two crucial components. First, the NP is a true “Rainbow Coalition” consisting of both young and aged African-Americans, Hispanics and Caucasians. Although ACORN and SEIU Local 880 were the harbingers of the NP there was a strong presence of CoC and DSA (15% DSA). Moreover a good 8% were younger Generation X’ers who are critically needed. A more diverse representation of Labor is missing. Secondly, the NP is taking “action.” Four political candidates were “there” seeking NP support. The NP is strategically organizing via house parties and tactically entering only elections that they can win. Furthermore they are organizing a campaign on the “Living Wage Ordinance” in the Chicago City Council.
1. Bently, Bruce (1995), New Party Update, CHICAGODSA.ORG. Retrieved from http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/ng42.html on Oct. 10, 2008.