Friday, May 25, 2012

Run for your lives! Barack Obama attended a conference on economic insecurity in 1996

There are times when political discourse in America is maddeningly ignorant. Like when someone finds an ad like this with Barack Obama's name on it and thinks they actually found something scandalous.

Here's the brief paragraph that appears with the image at BuzzFeed.

It's a reminder that the President presented himself as much more progressive during his time in Chicago. In this little-seen advertisement that ran in the Hyde Park Herald in 1996, Obama was listed on a panel sponsored by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), University of Chicago Democrats, and University of Chicago DSA.

First of all, it's only an ad. We don't know what Barack Obama said at the event. But the implication of the breathless mention is that he appeared at an event of an organization that had "socialist" in the title, and every right thinking American knows that you are not allowed to mention socialism in a partisan political context least you be mistaken for a bomb thrower of some kind.

Here's the mission statement of the Democratic Socialists of America:

Democratic Socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically -- to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives. 

Like it, don't like it. But we are talking about ideas and the democratic means to promote them and implement them.

As far as I'm concerned, socialism means so many things to so many people, it actually means very little. But the tradition carries many ideas that are not only important but that already, in so many ways, have been incorporated into the way we run the country, whether you like it or not.

Don't be afraid. It's okay. I'd be a lot more frightened of an Ayn Rand conference, which I am sure would lead to ideas that really would destroy the country.

Yes, our future president appeared at a conference where thoughts, perhaps somewhat outside the mainstream, were discussed. Can't have that. Call Glenn Beck, he'll know what to do.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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