It is impossible to over-emphasize the importance of Harold Washington and other Chicago radicals in the 1980s in shaping the politics of Barack Obama. Kurtz details the ways that Washington spearheaded the radicalization of the Democratic Party and shifted the party’s focus to building coalitions of poor and minority voters. He also shows how groups like ACORN functioned to swell the party ranks and fuel the anti-business and class warfare agendas. Perhaps more importantly, Kurtz traces the influence of friends and associates from that era of Obama’s life who are now among his most controversial political advisors and appointees. Kurtz describes them: “Barack Obama’s colleagues and mentors were some of the smartest and most influential stealth-socialist community organizers in the country. Their strategies of political realignment and social transformation guide the Obama administration to this day.”
Kurtz’s research reveals the intricate, though sometimes “stealth,” connections between Obama and the “populist” radical coalitions of the 1980s. Those connections included links to Jeremiah Wright’s radical activities, as well as the activities of coalitions like the Midwest Academy, the Illinois Project Vote, and the “Public Allies” projects.
More troubling than any of the obvious, open and/or stealth associations are the instances where Kurtz details the ways that President Obama “distorted” and “obfuscated” the record of his involvement with ACORN and his relationships with his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and his mentor, Bill Ayers. Kurtz notes that the deceptions include accounts in the president’s memoir, “Dreams of My Father.” These deceptions, according to Kurtz, are dangerous because “we will be irreversibly down the path toward social transformation before we recognize as a nation what’s at stake. The strategy of achieving socialism through a series of ‘non-reformist reforms,’ so popular among American’s community organizing elite, is premised on precisely that deception.”
The patterns of behavior, distortion, and rhetorical devices that characterize President Obama’s rise to political prominence are disturbing on numerous fronts. The “obfuscation” about his past alignments and associations is particularly troubling, as is the evidence that he continues to govern as President under the same ideology that guided his past behavior and associations. If the driving forces behind his past political ideology and associations remain constant — as Kurtz’s account seems to substantiate beyond refute — the questions about his strategy for implementing his vision for change are legitimate and crucial for the future of our nation.
With the 2010 election just around the corner, Obama is engaging in a nationwide campaign similar to the one he waged for the presidency in 2008; his get-out-the-vote strategy is targeting the youth, minority, poor, and women’s vote. As centrist independents, all varieties of conservatives plus Tea Party voters look at his past through the lens of Kurtz’s exhaustive and thorough research, all have far more information about the “transformation” that the president promised in 2008. Through Kurtz’s book, the political picture is crystal clear, and the president’s purpose is painfully obvious.
What is equally certain from the evidence Kurtz presents is that the prospect for the nation’s future depends upon the results of the 2010 and 2012 elections. We cannot, however, wait until 2012 to place checks and balances on the radical policies and purposes of this most ideologically-driven of presidents. As Norman Thomas said, “The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of ‘liberalism’ they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”
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