New Party

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The New Party was an electoral alliance dedicated to electing leftist candidates to office-usually through the Democratic Party. It dissolved in 1998.

Three organizations formed the backbone of the New Party - the Democratic Socialists of America, the U.S.'s largest radical organization, ACORN and radical labor union SEIU.

Also heavily involved were the Communist Party USA breakaway group Committees of Correspondence and far left "think tank" the Institute for Policy Studies.

[KW: There was at least one earlier "New Party", founded about 1968, whose history can be found at "New Party: Additional Groups" here at KW. It, too, had significant, if not domineering influence by the Institute for Policy Studies IPS.]


The first strategic meetings to plan the New Party were held in Joel Rogers' home in Madison Wisconsin in the very early 1990s. Present were Rogers' wife Sarah Siskind, Dan Cantor, ACORN leaders , Wade Rathke ,Zach Polett , Steve Kest and Jon Kest , Steve Cobble from the Institute for Policy Studies (in an advisory role), Sandy Morales Pope (for the first 18 months), Harriet Barlow and Barbara Dudley.

The very first meeting included Gerry Hudson from Democratic Socialists of America and SEIU and Gary Delgado, plus labor activists Sam Pizzigati and Tony Mazzocchi. Anthony Thigpenn of Los Angeles was also approached, but though supportive did not wish to play a leadership role.[1]

Socialist Scholars conference

Elaine Bernard and Kurt Stand of Democratic Socialists of America, Arthur Lipow, Michael Harrington Center; and Judy Page, New Party were speakers on the Towards a New Party panel sponsored by the Democratic Socialists of America at the Tenth Annual Socialist Scholars Conference. The conference was held April 24-26, 1992 at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York City.[2]

Bernard and Page were later active in the New Party, while Stand was later jailed as an East German and Soviet spy.


The New Party News is the party's publication. The party is also affiliated with the New Majority Education Fund (a Tides Center project organization) and Working Families Party.

New Party builders


New Party News Fall 1994 listed over 100 activists-"some of the community leaders, organizers, retirees,, scholars, artists, parents, students, doctors, writers and other activists who are building the NP"

Radical involvement

Of those listed above:

DSA supporters

Elaine Bernard, Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, Janice Fine, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Manning Marable, Frances Fox Piven, Rafael Pizarro, Juliet Schor, Gloria Steinem, Arthur Waskow, Cornel West and Quentin Young were involved with Democratic Socialists of America.

CoC supporters

Noam Chomsky, Bob Clark, Manning Marable, Rafael Pizarro, Gloria Quinones, Dan Swinney were all involved with Committees of Correspondence.


Gary Delgado, Anita Estrada, Maude Hurd, Keith Kelleher, Frances Fox Piven were linked to ACORN.


Harriet Barlow, John Cavanagh, Steve Cobble, Noam Chomsky, Chuck Collins, Gary Delgado, Barbara Ehrenreich, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Manning Marable, David Morris, Frances Fox Piven, Mark Ritchie, Michael Shuman and Arthur Waskow were linked to the far left Institute for Policy Studies.

Progressives for Obama

Barbara Ehrenreich and Bill Fletcher, Jr. were, in 2008, founders of Progressives for Obama, while Steve Cobble, Frances Fox Piven, Dan Swinney and Cornel West were listed as endorsers of the organization.

New Party and Democratic Socialists of America

Democratic Socialists of America was heavily involved in the New Party.

On 1995, four young Democratic Socialists of America members, Maggie Dyer and Jason Murphy of Little Rock, Arkansas, Matt Mayers Cambridge, Massachusetts and Eric Olson College Park, Maryland, wrote a letter to Democratic Left, July/August issue, advocating that DSA support the New Party.[3]

A New Party wouldn't compete with DSA chapters—it would provide a structure in which DSA and other progressive groups could work together on electoral and issue campaigns.

It will take years for progressives to build a grassroots third party capable of competing for power at the national level. DSA members could be (and in many cases already are) vital participants in this effort. With the New Party and its strategy in mind, we should renew our dialogue on the need for and possibility of building a new progressive party in the U.S.

According to DSA's Democratic Left Summer 2001[4];

Veterans of the left will remember that the 1968 Peace and Freedom Party and the 1980 Citizens Party arose at moments of greater left-wing strength and did not significantly alter the national electoral landscape. Nor has, unfortunately, the New Party, which many DSAers work with in states where “fusion” of third party and major party votes is possible (such as the DSA co-sponsored Working Families Party in N.Y. State).

New Party and the Democrats

The New Party Executive Committee announced[5]in 1994;

"Joining the New Party doesn't end your relationship with the Democrats, it changes it."

Chicago New Party

Madeline Talbott of ACORN was one of the key early organizers of the Chicago New Party.

She wrote a progress report on August 12 1992 which detailed meetings with Joe Gardner, Jackie Grimshaw (Deputy City Treasurer), Jim Pena (Federation for Industrial Retention and Renewal), lawyer Paul Strauss, Frank Rosen (Labor Party Advocates), Connie Hall (IVI - IPO), Greg LeRoy and Lisa Oppenheim, (both Midwest Center for Labor Research). All were supportive.

She was also looking forward to meeting Ron Sable and Dan Swinney and reported that in May Dan Cantor held a New Party fund raising meeting in the Chicago home of Quentin Young, "with half a dozen good people present".[6]

Mailing list

A Chicago New Party mailing list circa 1993 included the names;[7]

Chicago New Party and Barack Obama

In Chicago, the New Party consisted mainly of ACORN, DSA, SEIU (Service Employees International Union) and the Committees of Correspondence (CoC). A breakaway from the Communist Party USA, CoC worked closely with DSA and many activists were members of both organizations.

The Chicago New Party began to get organized[8]in January 1995.

On Saturday, January 14, the New Party in Chicago took another step in its effort to establish itself as a political force by holding a major outreach meeting directed at Chicago's Left. About 100 people, with sizable delegations from DSA and CoC among others, heard Bruce Colburn and Elaine Bernard preach the gospel of the New Party...

Elaine Bernard, a Labor Studies lecturer at Harvard, is a prominent DSA member. Bruce Colburn was an officer of the Milwaukee Central Labor Council and the Chair of the local New Party affiliate in Milwaukee.

The meeting was held at the meeting hall of SEIU Local 880, a local that is tackling the extremely difficult task of organizing home health care workers in Illinois. SEIU Local 880 and ACORN share office space.

DSA and their CoC allies saw the New Party as a vehicle for major political change-to both move the Democratic Party leftward and to eventually prepare the ground for an entirely new third party.

At a meeting attended[9]by Chicago DSA members Kurt Anderson and Bob Roman, plus CoC members Ronelle Mustin and Sandy Patrinos, CoC leader Carl Davidson explained the New Party's role in first working through the Democratic Party then eventually replacing it.

On January 27th approximately 45 people attended the Chicago DSA and Chicago CoC organized public form at the ACTWU hall on Ashland Ave. Each organization had two representatives on the panel to present their particular elections '94 post-mortem perspectives. Chicago DSA was represented by Co-Chair, Kurt Anderson and Political Education Officer, Bob Roman. CoC was represented by Carl Davidson, who is a member of CoC's National Coordinating Committee and Ronelle Mustin, an activist from the 22nd ward. The event was chaired by Sandi Patrinos, chair of Chicago CoC...
Carl Davidson wanted to focus on "voting patterns." There were essentially two winners. Naturally the Republicans, but so were the most left in Congress such as the Progressive and Black Caucuses. The latter were re-elected while the neo-liberal and conservative Democrats were voted out. More importantly this election was the de facto defeat of the elitist Democratic Leadership Council who do not care about the poor or Labor.
To win elections, Davidson emphasized that there are two necessary coinciding factors. First, a passive majority... Secondly, a militant minority, which came to fruition for the Right wing with the Christian Coalition...
Hence Davidson emphasized that in this historical period the Left's strategy must be electoral politics not revolution. Consequently the Left must galvanize the "majority" - the working class and poor... Moreover the democratic left needs get active in the New Party which has won 20 of 30 local elections. Thus a short-term strategy of working with the Democratic Party and in the long-term work with the New Party.


Barack Obama clearly saw the potential of the New Party, because he was soon seeking their support[10]-alongside Michael Chandler, Willie Delgado, Miguel del Valle, Alice Palmer, Sonya Sanchez and Jesse Garcia.

About 50 activists attended the Chicago New Party membership meeting in July. The purpose of the meeting was to update members on local activities and to hear appeals for NP support from four potential political candidates. The NP is being very active in organization building and politics...
The political entourage included Alderman Michael Chandler, William Delgado, chief of staff for State Rep Miguel del Valle, and spokespersons for State Sen. Alice Palmer, Sonya Sanchez, chief of staff for State Sen. Jesse Garcia, who is running for State Rep in Garcia's District; and Barack Obama, chief of staff for State Sen. Alice Palmer. Obama is running for Palmer's vacant seat...
Although ACORN and SEIU Local 880 were the harbingers of the NP there was a strong presence of CoC and DSA (15% DSA)... Four political candidates were "there" seeking NP support.

Barack Obama won the 1996 election, by using legal technicalities to get all his opponents disqualified-but he still encouraged New Party volunteers to join[11]his task forces on Voter Education and Voter Registration.

The NP's '96 Political Program has been enormously successful with 3 of 4 endorsed candidates winning electoral primaries. All four candidates attended the NP membership meeting on April 11th to express their gratitude.
Danny Davis, winner in the 7th Congressional District, invited NPers to join his Campaign Steering Committee.
Patricia Martin, who won the race for Judge in 7th Subcircuit Court, explained that due to the NP she was able to network and get experienced advice from progressives like Davis.
Barack Obama, victor in the 13th State Senate District, encouraged NPers to join in his task forces on Voter Education and Voter Registration...

External links



  1. Spoiling for a fight: third-party politics in America By Micah L. Sifry, page 347
  2. SSE Tenth Annual Conference Program, 1992
  3. Dem.Left, July/Aug. 1995 page 18
  5. Z magazine June 1994
  6. Madeline Talbott, Chicago NP report August 12, 1992
  7. Chicago NP mailing list, circa 1993
  9. Where Does the Left Go From Here? A Chicago DSA - Chicago CoC Joint Forum, New Ground 39, March - April, 1995