From Trevor Loudon:
Progressive Chicago was founded in 1993 as as the “sister organization” of the Chicago New Party.
Like the New Party, it was the creation of SEIU, ACORN, Democratic Socialists of America and the Communist Party USA breakaway group Committees of Correspondence.
Founded in early 1993, Progressive Chicago aimed to;
- Unite progressive activists and organizations for progressive, grassroots electoral activity in local elections.
- It is a renewal of the old Harold Washington coalition; activists and academics; women; unemployed and union; gay and straight; community organizations and churches; African American, Latino, Asian, native American and white; seniors and people with disabilities; low income and middle income; west and south side….
New Party roots
In an April 27, 1993 letter to prospective Progressive Chicago members, Dan Swinney wrote;
- I recently have become interested in the New Party as well as committed myself to see if we can build a Progressive Chicago network, working with Madeline Talbott of ACORN – the local New Party convener.
- I wanted to introduce you to the NP and Progressive Chicago and would like to talk to you about it to see if there is a role you want to play.
- Enclosed is a brochure, a longer description of the NP and the ideas behind it…
A circa 1993 Progressive Chicago introductory pamphlet stated;
- Progressive Chicago was started by members of the New Party who wanted to be able to put together an organization strong enough to win: If that means supporting a candidate running as a Democrat, then fine. If that means running our own candidates in aldermanic or state representative races on whatever line that gives them the best chance of winning, fine.
A Chicago New Party organizing report of June 2 1993 stated;
- At some point in the future we will have elections for a steering committee, but at this point we are concentrating on building up the internal organization…to build up our sister organization, Progressive Chicago. Once we have built up our membership for the two organizations, we will then elect a steering committee and move forward…
- Progressive Chicago would be a support organization for progressive political activity…This organization is modeled on Progressive Milwaukee and Progressive Dane…
- We hope that Progressive Chicago will be able to rebuild the shattered Harold Washington Coalition and be a leading force in supporting progressive coalitions and progressive change…
The letter was signed by;
- Ron Sable
- Dwayne Harris, 21st Century Vote
- David Orr Cook County Clerk
- Ernestine Whiting, ACORN
- Madeline Talbott, ACORN
- Bessie Cannon, President SEIU Local 880
- Keith Kelleher, Head organizer SEIU Local 880 (married to Madeline Talbot)
- Joe Gardner Commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District
- Lou Pardo, Northwest Voter Registration Project
- Rene David Luna, ADAPT
- Dick Simpson
A similar letter of September 22 1993, was signed by all the names above, but added six more;
- Danny Davis
- Carol Harwell, United Voter Registration League
- Barack Obama <<<<<LOOK
- Ron Davis
- Carl Davidson, Networking for Democracy
- Philip Jahn, Teamsters local 743
Those attending a Progressive Chicago meeting September 29 1993, included;
- Carl Davidson
- Ira Cohen, for Danny K. Davis
- Ernestine Whiting
- Madeline Talbott
- Peter McLennon
- Keith Kelleher
Those attending a Progressive Chicago meeting November 17 1993 included;
- Keith Kelleher
- Mildred Jackson
- Carl Davidson
- Madeline Talbott
- Peter McLennon
- Sam Ackerman
- Dan Swinney
- James Wise
A Progressive Chicago report to Keith Kelleher, dated October 27, 1993 listed several more contacts and potential members of the organization.
The New Party
The New Party was an electoral alliance dedicated to electing leftist candidates to office-usually through the Democratic Party. It dissolved in 1998.
[KW: There was at least one earlier “New Party”, founded about 1968, whose history can be found at “New Party: Additional Groups” here at KW. It, too, had significant, if not domineering influence by the Institute for Policy Studies IPS.]
The first strategic meetings to plan the New Party were held in Joel Rogers‘ home in Madison Wisconsin in the very early 1990s. Present were Rogers’ wife Sarah Siskind, Dan Cantor, ACORN leaders , Wade Rathke ,Zach Polett , Steve Kest and Jon Kest , Steve Cobble from the Institute for Policy Studies (in an advisory role), Sandy Morales Pope (for the first 18 months),Harriet Barlow and Barbara Dudley.
The very first meeting included Gerry Hudson from Democratic Socialists of America and SEIU and Gary Delgado, plus labor activists Sam Pizzigatiand Tony Mazzocchi. Anthony Thigpenn of Los Angeles was also approached, but though supportive did not wish to play a leadership role.
Socialist Scholars conference
Elaine Bernard and Kurt Stand of Democratic Socialists of America, Arthur Lipow, Michael Harrington Center; and Judy Page, New Party were speakers on the Towards a New Party panel sponsored by the Democratic Socialists of America at the Tenth Annual Socialist Scholars Conference. The conference was held April 24-26, 1992 at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York City.
Bernard and Page were later active in the New Party, while Kurt Stand was later jailed as an East German and Soviet spy.
New Party builders
New Party News Fall 1994 listed over 100 activists-“some of the community leaders, organizers, retirees,, scholars, artists, parents, students, doctors, writers and other activists who are building the NP”
- Ben Bagdikian, Author
- Steve Cobble, Political Consultant
- Sharon Delugach, Los Angeles
- Barbara Ehrenreich, Author
- Janice Fine, MIT
- Bill Fletcher Jr, Labor Educator
- Doug Foster, Writer
- Doug Kratsch, South-Central WI Federation of Labor
- Jane Perkins, Washington, D.C.
- Joel Rogers, University of Wisconsin
- James Sanders, NY Community School Board
- Ira Shor, Educator
- Jane Stein, Durham
- Gloria Steinem, Author
- Urvashi Vaid, Provincetown, MA
- Jenny Warburg, Durham
- Arthur Waskow, Philadelphia
- Cornel West, Harvard University
- Howard Zinn, Historian
Of those listed above:
Elaine Bernard, Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, Bill Fletcher Jr, Manning Marable, Frances Fox Piven, Rafael Pizarro, Juliet Schor, Gloria Steinem, Arthur Waskow, Cornel West and Quentin Young were involved with Democratic Socialists of America.
Harriet Barlow, John Cavanagh, Steve Cobble, Noam Chomsky, Chuck Collins, Gary Delgado, Barbara Ehrenreich, Bill Fletcher Jr, Manning Marable,David Morris, Frances Fox Piven, Mark Ritchie, Michael Shuman and Arthur Waskow were linked to the far left Institute for Policy Studies.
Progressives for Obama
Barbara Ehrenreich and Bill Fletcher, Jr. were, in 2008, founders of Progressives for Obama, while Steve Cobble, Frances Fox Piven, Dan Swinney and Cornel West were listed as endorsers of the organization.
New Party and Democratic Socialists of America
Democratic Socialists of America was heavily involved in the New Party.
On 1995, four young Democratic Socialists of America members, Maggie Dyer and Jason Murphy of Little Rock, Arkansas, Matt Mayers Cambridge, Massachusetts and Eric Olson College Park, Maryland, wrote a letter to Democratic Left, July/August issue, advocating that DSA support the New Party.
- A New Party wouldn’t compete with DSA chapters—it would provide a structure in which DSA and other progressive groups could work together on electoral and issue campaigns.
- It will take years for progressives to build a grassroots third party capable of competing for power at the national level. DSA members could be (and in many cases already are) vital participants in this effort. With the New Party and its strategy in mind, we should renew our dialogue on the need for and possibility of building a new progressive party in the U.S.
- Veterans of the left will remember that the 1968 Peace and Freedom Party and the 1980 Citizens Party arose at moments of greater left-wing strength and did not significantly alter the national electoral landscape. Nor has, unfortunately, the New Party, which many DSAers work with in states where “fusion” of third party and major party votes is possible (such as the DSA co-sponsored Working Families Party in N.Y. State).
New Party and the Democrats
The New Party Executive Committee announcedin 1994;
- “Joining the New Party doesn’t end your relationship with the Democrats, it changes it.”
Chicago New Party
She wrote a progress report on August 12 1992 which detailed meetings with Joe Gardner, Jackie Grimshaw (Deputy City Treasurer), Jim Pena(Federation for Industrial Retention and Renewal), lawyer Paul Strauss, Frank Rosen (Labor Party Advocates), Connie Hall (IVI – IPO), Greg LeRoyand Lisa Oppenheim, (both Midwest Center for Labor Research). All were supportive.
She was also looking forward to meeting Ron Sable and Dan Swinney and reported that in May Dan Cantor held a New Party fund raising meeting in the Chicago home of Quentin Young, “with half a dozen good people present”.
Chicago New Party and Barack Obama
In Chicago, the New Party consisted mainly of ACORN, DSA, SEIU (Service Employees International Union) and the Committees of Correspondence(CoC). A breakaway from the Communist Party USA, CoC worked closely with DSA and many activists were members of both organizations.
The Chicago New Party began to get organizedin January 1995.
On Saturday, January 14, the New Party in Chicago took another step in its effort to establish itself as a political force by holding a major outreach meeting directed at Chicago’s Left. About 100 people, with sizable delegations from DSA and CoC among others, heard Bruce Colburn and Elaine Bernard preach the gospel of the New Party…
Elaine Bernard, a Labor Studies lecturer at Harvard, is a prominent DSA member. Bruce Colburn was an officer of the Milwaukee Central Labor Council and the Chair of the local New Party affiliate in Milwaukee.
The meeting was held at the meeting hall of SEIU Local 880, a local that is tackling the extremely difficult task of organizing home health care workers in Illinois. SEIU Local 880 and ACORN share office space.
DSA and their CoC allies saw the New Party as a vehicle for major political change-to both move the Democratic Party leftward and to eventually prepare the ground for an entirely new third party.
At a meeting attendedby Chicago DSA members Kurt Anderson and Bob Roman, plus CoC members Ronelle Mustin and Sandy Patrinos, CoC leader Carl Davidson explained the New Party’s role in first working through the Democratic Party then eventually replacing it.
- On January 27th approximately 45 people attended the Chicago DSA and Chicago CoC organized public form at the ACTWU hall on Ashland Ave. Each organization had two representatives on the panel to present their particular elections ’94 post-mortem perspectives. Chicago DSA was represented by Co-Chair, Kurt Anderson and Political Education Officer, Bob Roman. CoC was represented by Carl Davidson, who is a member of CoC’s National Coordinating Committee and Ronelle Mustin, an activist from the 22nd ward. The event was chaired by Sandi Patrinos, chair of Chicago CoC…
- Carl Davidson wanted to focus on “voting patterns.” There were essentially two winners. Naturally the Republicans, but so were the most left in Congress such as the Progressive and Black Caucuses. The latter were re-elected while the neo-liberal and conservative Democrats were voted out. More importantly this election was the de facto defeat of the elitist Democratic Leadership Council who do not care about the poor or Labor.
- To win elections, Davidson emphasized that there are two necessary coinciding factors. First, a passive majority… Secondly, a militant minority, which came to fruition for the Right wing with the Christian Coalition…
- Hence Davidson emphasized that in this historical period the Left’s strategy must be electoral politics not revolution. Consequently the Left must galvanize the “majority” – the working class and poor… Moreover the democratic left needs get active in the New Party which has won 20 of 30 local elections. Thus a short-term strategy of working with the Democratic Party and in the long-term work with the New Party.
Barack Obama clearly saw the potential of the New Party, because he was soon seeking their support-alongside Michael Chandler, Willie Delgado, Miguel del Valle, Alice Palmer, Sonya Sanchez and Jesse Garcia.
- 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…
- 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…
- Although ACORN and SEIU Local 880 were the harbingers of the NP there was a strong presence of CoC and DSA (15% DSA)… Four political candidates were “there” seeking NP support.
Barack Obama won the 1996 election, by using legal technicalities to get all his opponents disqualified-but he still encouraged New Party volunteers to joinhis task forces on Voter Education and Voter Registration.
- The NP’s ’96 Political Program has been enormously successful with 3 of 4 endorsed candidates winning electoral primaries. All four candidates attended the NP membership meeting on April 11th to express their gratitude.
- Danny Davis, winner in the 7th Congressional District, invited NPers to join his Campaign Steering Committee.
- Patricia Martin, who won the race for Judge in 7th Subcircuit Court, explained that due to the NP she was able to network and get experienced advice from progressives like Davis.
- Barack Obama, victor in the 13th State Senate District, encouraged NPers to join in his task forces on Voter Education and Voter Registration…
Another LINK to Obama one should study:
Demos, one of the nations premier leftist “think tanks” has close ties to Democratic Socialists of America, and, until the organization morphed into a vast array of semi-disguised clones, ACORN.
Interestingly Demos’ founding 1999-2000 Board of Trustees, included an obscure Illinois State Senator named Barack Obama.
A few years later an equally obscure San Francisco communist radical named Van Jones would also join the Demos Board. Small world isn’t it?
|Demos 2009 report “Flying blind”, page 3|