Jan Schakowsky, Socialism, and the Legitimacy of Liberty

I’ve obtained an advance copy of Radical-In-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism, Stanley Kurtz’s meticulously researched new book on our president’s socialist roots. It’s no hatchet job. It doesn’t appeal to the prejudices of the reader, or spin facts to excite suspicion. Rather, Kurtz has done serious research to document the incestuous world of far-left politics in Chicago, where Obama got his political start.

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Kurtz’s goal is to answer the question--considered inflammatory by some--of whether Obama is a socialist. At the outset, he writes, "I thought the socialism issue was an unprovable and unnecessary distraction from the broader question of Obama’s ultra-liberal inclinations. I was wrong." Kurtz concludes that Obama is indeed a socialist, quietly determined to transform America by expanding government power over our lives.

One of the fascinating links Kurtz draws--particularly to me, since I’m running against Democrat Jan Schakowsky for Congress in Illinois’s 9th district--is the connection between Obama, Schakowsky, and her husband Robert Creamer. Kurtz shows that Schakowsky is, or was, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America; her career, Kurtz writes, "illuminate[s] the larger political intentions and strategies of community organizing in America."

Schakowsky is rated by nonpartisan sources like GovTrack.us and National Journal as the most left-wing member of Congress. Her extremism is no accident, but the result of deeply held convictions.



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Kurtz highlights Schakowsky’s notorious statement in April 2009 that the goal of health insurance reform is to “put the private insurance industry out of business.” It is evidence, he says, of the socialist intentions that Schakowsky and fellow radicals decided to mask four decades ago, hiding behind “reforms” whose true intention is to create a fiscal and administrative crisis that can be used to bring about socialism over time.

Creamer himself is quite explicit about these intentions. As I wrote last year in my first article for Big Government, he conceived a strategy for achieving universal health care as a first step on the way to the “democratization of wealth” in America and “progressive control of governments around the world.” He described his strategy in a political manual that he began writing in federal prison and published a short time later.

The health insurance law that eventually passed in March did not nationalize the health care system; it did not even include the so-called “public option,” which Schakowsky proudly championed as the path to a single-payer system. Yet she was content to break her promise to vote against any bill that did not include the “public option,” and her far-left allies are happy to forgive her, because they believe they will win in the long run.

I happened to be at a candidate forum with Schakowsky yesterday, at a nursing home in the district. As we waited to speak, I caught a glimpse of her paging through a copy of the U.S. Constitution, which she tucked into her purse when she saw that I had noticed. Just a few days before, two bloggers at another forum--whom she accused of working for me--had asked her to explain the constitutional authority for the health insurance law.

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She could not, and the resulting video went viral. Schakowsky’s view of the Constitution is actually rather simple: it is a means to an end, not an end in itself. On September 28, she told an interviewer that the right to choose an abortion creates an obligation for federal taxpayers to fund abortions.

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She would certainly disagree, however, that the government ought to buy guns for every citizen to fulfill the Second Amendment, or newspapers to fulfill the First.

Her interpretation in every circumstance favors the dominance of government over the individual, the better to achieve the “democratization of wealth.” Plainly, she stands for socialism.

Today, young Americans learn in school that to identify someone as a socialist is to commit the sin of “McCarthyism.” It is worse, in the minds of those of us who came of age after the Cold War, to accuse someone (even correctly) of being a socialist than to be one.

Yet there is nothing more McCarthyist than finding someone guilty until proven innocent, which the Obama administration has done by accusing critics of taking foreign money (an accusation Schakowsky has repeated on the campaign trail).

The explicit xenophobia in that accusation is even worse--it is the hallmark of nativist prejudice, the very sin with which Democrats have been trying to smear their opponents for the last two years.

Recently, Schakowsky’s campaign manager made headlines when he Tweeted that opponents of the Ground Zero mosque were “f**king dumba**es who havent read the 1st amndmt.” When pressed for a reaction by the local media, Schakowsky rebuked her manager’s choice of words, but not the message itself. She evidently tolerates the view that political opposition is motivated by prejudice, ignorance, or evil--i.e. illegitimate.

That is what is at stake in this election--the legitimacy of liberty. An entrepreneur at a recent campaign event told me he believed this Election Day was unique, in that it provided a rare political solution to the country’s economic problems. Yet November 2nd is also, fundamentally, a political solution to the political problem posed by a political elite that treats political liberty as a mere means to an end.

Kurtz’s new book explains how that problem began. The next chapter is ours to write.

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