Chicago is a Democratic Party town. Though dominated by the “right wing” Daley machine for decades, the Democratic Party also has a strong socialist influenced/infiltrated left wing.
The city has a long socialist tradition and not by accident hosted the founding of the US Communist Party in 1919.
Chicago also has a huge black population, the second largest of any city in the US.
It’s not surprising therefore that Chicago’s socialists have historically been very active in the City’s black community.
Chicago’s two main Marxist organisations, the Communist Party USA and the have long used their influence in the city’s unions and community organisations to manipulate the black voting bloc.
Black, Latino and “progressive” white voters have given Chicago and the state of Illinois a long list of socialist Aldermen, state senators, Congressmen and US Senators.
On September 30th 2007 a Special District Meeting on “African American Equality and Building the Communist Party and Young Communist League” was held in Chicago.
A report, arising from the meeting, by CPUSA Illinois organiser John Bachtell, to the Party leadership makes some interesting connections.
Every one of our clubs has within its geographic concentration an African American community and African American organizations. Every one of our clubs is involved in local coalition work, where we have the role and responsibility of fighting for multi-racial unity and of making the fight against racism the central aspect of unity building…
Chicago is a leading center of the African American community nationally, in the working class and organized labor movements, in the political and cultural arenas. It is playing a vital part of the emerging labor led coalition, in every struggle around economic justice, for political independence, etc.
At the center of many of the democratic advances has been the Labor-African American alliance, the heart of BBW multi-racial unity and all-people’s unity. It’s impossible to see the African American equality movement separate and apart from what’s developing in labor and the labor led people’s movement.
The legacy of Harold Washington’s election and his administration is in the collective consciousness not only of the African American community, but the entire city. Many of his democratizing achievements endure 20 years later.
The historic election of Washington was the culmination of many years of struggle. It reflected a high degree of unity of the African American community and the alliance with a section of labor, the Latino community and progressive minded whites. This legacy of political independence also endures.
Harold Washington was a long time associate and probable secret member of the Communist Party. The CPUSA and the Democratic Socialists of America mobilised all their forces to help elect Washington in 1983.
Though he died in office in 1987, Washington stacked Chicago’s town hall with socialists and “progressives“. The Washington era is still regarded as a golden age by US socialists.
The struggle for African American representation and political independence also led to the historic election of Carole Moseley Braun for Senate and many African American state legislators and local elected officials.
Carol Moseley Braun was closely associated with the Communist Party in the late ’70s. Her successful campaign for the US Senate in 1992 was backed by the Democratic Socialists of America, the CPUSA and a CPUSA breakaway group, the Committees of Correspondence.
Moseley Braun was the first African American woman nominated for a US Senate seat by a major political party and only the second African American elected to the Senate since the 19th century.
Moseley Braun served only one term in the Senate, being defeated in 1998. In November 1999, she was confirmed as US Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, by then president Bill Clinton.
On her return to the US in 2001 Moseley Braun at first toyed with the idea of re-contesting her Illinois US Senate seat. Instead she made a short lived run at the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination for the 2004 election.
Moseley Braun’s decision, cleared the way for an up an coming young black politician, Barack Obama, to take her old US Senate seat. In 1992, Obama was Director of Illinois Project Vote, a voter registration campaign that allegedly significantly improved Carol Moseley Braun’s chances in her successful Senate campaign.
The African American community, and especially trade unionists have played a crucial role in the struggle to defeat the ultra right. This includes massive voter turnout in election after election, but also the swing state mobilizations in 2004.
This was also reflected in the historic election of Barack Obama. Our Party actively supported Obama during the primary election. Once again Obama’s campaign reflected the electoral voting unity of the African American community, but also the alliances built with several key trade unions, and forces in the Latino and white communities.
It also reflected a breakthrough among white voters. In the primary, Obama won 35% of the white vote and 7 north side wards, in a crowded field. During the general election he won every ward in the city and all the collar counties. This appeal has continued in his presidential run.
Barack Obama benefited tremendously by the culture created during the Harold Washington era. Obama’s first job in a Chicago law firm was with “progressive” lawyer Judson Miner, Chicago’s corporation counsel under Washington.
The Democratic Socialists of America, also endorsed Obama in his successful 1996 illinois state senate campaign.
Barack Obama has an outside chance of becoming the US president in 2008 and a better chance of becoming vice-president under Hillary Clinton.
He is young enough to be around for many elections yet, so barring the unforseen, he may very well lead the “free world” one day.
Will the son of Chicago’s red/black alliance one day serve in the White House?