Barack Obama — portrait of a socialist as a not so very young man

Stanley Kurtz has an important and potentially consequential piece at NRO in which he demonstrates that, contrary to what the Obama campaign asserted in 2008, Barack Obama formally joined the New Party, which was deeply hostile to the mainstream of the Democratic party and even to American capitalism. Obama did so in 1996.

Kurtz first raised Obama’s membership in the New Party in 2008. Team Obama denied the allegation, calling it a “crackpot smear.”

Now, however, Kurtz has obtained documents from the updated records of Illinois ACORN at the Wisconsin Historical Society that conclusively establish Obama’s membership in the New Party. In fact, Obama signed a “contract” promising to publicly support and associate himself with the New Party while in office.

Minutes of the meeting on January 11, 1996, of the New Party’s Chicago chapter read as follows:

Barack Obama, candidate for State Senate in the 13th Legislative District, gave a statement to the membership and answered questions. He signed the New Party “Candidate Contract” and requested an endorsement from the New Party. He also joined the New Party.

Consistent with these minutes, a roster of the Chicago chapter of the New Party from early 1997 lists Obama as a member. January 11, 1996 is indicated as the date he joined.

It is no accident that Kurtz found his evidence in Illinois ACORN’s records. The New Party was Illinois ACORN’s political arm. The party’s official “statement of principles,” which candidates seeking endorsement from the Chicago chapter were asked to support, called for a “peaceful revolution” and included redistributive proposals substantially to the left of the Democratic party. Accordingly, says Kurtz, documents reveal that the New Party’s central aim was to move the United States steadily closer to European social democracy. New Party leaders disdained mainstream Democrats, considering them tools of business, and promised instead to create a partnership between elected officials and local community organizations, with the goal of socializing the American economy to an unprecedented degree.

Is Obama’s membership in the New Party relevant to this election campaign? Voters will have to decide this for themselves, assuming that (against the odds) the MSM fails to cover up the underlying facts.

I consider Kurtz’s evidence clearly relevant. One of Mitt Romney’s central campaign themes is that Obama wants to move the United States steadily closer to the European “social democracy” model. Obama, though, does not admit this. Evidence that, just 16 years ago, Obama joined a political party with precisely that goal tends to confirm Romney’s view.

Obama supporters will claim that, as president, their man has not attempted to move the U.S. towards European socialism. I disagree, but that can be debated without reference to the president’s prior political affiliation.

However, as Obama has said when he thought the microphone was turned off, he will have considerably more flexibility in a second term than he does now. Thus, even if Obama thus far has been a cautious socialist, or no socialist at all, evidence about his sympathies is relevant to discerning what he will attempt in a second term. Kurtz has found important additional evidence about what those sympathies were in 1996. Until Obama tells us when and why his ultra-leftist views changed, we should assume that they haven’t.

Obama supporters may also claim that the issue of the New Party was “litigated” during the 2008. To make that claim would require considerable nerve. When Kurtz attempted to litigate the issue, Team Obama responded with the campaign equivalent of perjury (to use the litigation analogy). The dishonesty of the 2008 Obama campaign, and of Obama himself on the topic of ACORN (which Kurtz also discusses), is itself a legitimate side issue in 2012, in my opinion.

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