Obama on the Fringe
The president belonged to a social-democratic third party
Campaigning in Illinois in 1995 (©Marc PoKempner, 1995)


The manifesto rejects the theory that the Democratic party was weakened when a Sixties-inflected McGovernite wing took control of it. Instead, it argues, the failure of the Democratic party to root itself in community organizing is the true source of its weakness. It repeatedly compares America’s Democratic party unfavorably with Europe’s social-democratic parties. Yes, there are “good Democrats” who deserve endorsement, the manifesto concedes — but they are really social democrats, and merit New Party support for precisely that reason. The document ends by describing the New Party platform as an attempt to enact authentic social democracy to the extent possible given “the constraints on such an order imposed by capitalism.” The unmistakable implication is that the founders of the New Party would prefer to throw off the shackles of capitalism entirely.

Acorn’s records show that prior to joining the New Party, Obama was invited to personally confer with party founder Joel Rogers, who would have either authored or approved that early manifesto. Candidates for New Party endorsement in Chicago were also regularly asked whether they agreed with the party’s “Statement of Principles,” which had been approved by the national Interim Executive Council headed by Rogers. The Statement of Principles contains concrete proposals that bring the New Party’s “social democratic” stance to life. There are, for example, proposals to hand substantial control of the banking and financial systems over to community groups (such as ACORN). The Statement of Principles also demands a guaranteed minimum income for all adults, and a universal “social wage,” defined as cradle-to-grave state provision of health care, child care, education, and the like.

June 25, 2012    |     Volume LXIV, No. 12

Books, Arts & Manners
  • Michael Knox Beran reviews Barack Obama: The Story, by David Maraniss.
  • Joseph Postell reviews It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism, by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein.
  • Amir Taheri reviews Patriot of Persia: Muhammad Mossadegh and a Tragic Anglo-American Coup, by Christopher de Bellaigue.
  • Claire Berlinski reviews How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam Is Dying Too), by David P. Goldman.
  • Ryan T. Anderson reviews Natural Law and the Antislavery Constitutional Tradition, by Justin Buckley Dyer.
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