With the ACORN conspiracy about to seize control of the government and force plumbers to make loans to uncreditworthy black people before spreading the wealth around to terrorists, I thought I might see what I could learn from National Review. Well, Stanley Kurtz observes that in the mid-nineties, Barack Obama’s State Senate campaign was endorsed by the New Party. The idea of the New Party was to serve as a pragmatic alternative to Naderism — it would cross-endorse progressive Democrats in select races and maybe now and again try to beat a conservative Democrat. Kurtz explains. Very little ever came of it because ballot access laws in the United States are generally hostile to this strategy, but New York State features a fusion-friendly election law and three fusion-oriented parties. There’s the Conservative Party on the right, the Liberal Party in the center, and the Working Families Party on the left with the WFP being the main institutional legacy of the New Party. Anyway, Kurtz says:
To get a sense of where the New Party stood politically, consider some of its early supporters: Barbara Dudley of Greenpeace; Steve Cobble, political director of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coaltion; prominent academics like Frances Fox Piven, coauthor of the “Cloward-Piven strategy” and a leader of the drive for the “motor-voter” legislation Obama later defended in court on behalf of ACORN; economist Juliet Schor; black historian Manning Marable; historian Howard Zinn; linguist Noam Chomsky; Todd Gitlin; and writers like Gloria Steinem and Barbara Ehrenreich. Socialist? Readers can draw their own conclusions. At one point, Sifry does describe the party’s goals as “social democratic.” In any case, the New Party clearly stands substantially to the left of the mainstream Democratic party.
This reminds me of my own extensive ties to radicalism. For one thing, when I was registered to vote in New York, I voted Hillary Clinton for Senate in 2000 on the Working Families Party line. Also I once went to hear a Howard Zinn talk, after which I asked a moderately hostile question and he gave a non-responsive answer. But I have read the People’s History of the United States. For that matter, I was assigned Nickle and Dimed in college and though I never took a class with Juliet Schor, I’m pretty sure I met her at one point through the Progressive Student Labor Movement. And I have extensive ties to Todd Gitlin. Beyond TPM Cafe we both traveled to the Netherlands about a year ago as guests of the Wiardi Beckman Stiftung which is affiliated with the Dutch Labor Party which is a member of the Socialist International (making things even more confusing, shortly after this we both found ourselves at a Liberty Fund even in Arizona).
Long story short — there are radicals everywhere!