Obama's connection to the Democratic Socialists of America: Is it relevant?

Barack Obama’s connections to the Democratic Socialists of America (check out some of the recommended readings at this link) has been the topic of much scrutiny just in recent days. As far as I know, this was first reported by a New Zealand based libertarian blogger, New Zeal, back in January, 2008.
The New Zeal site has a weath of background on the DSA and an affiliated socialist group called the New Party. Newsbusters reports that to be an approved candidate, one had to sign a contract and agreement with the party’s socialist objectives.
Obama sought the endorsement of the New Party for his 1996 state senate race and was referred to as a member by the Populist. After his victory, the Democratic Socialist newsletter indicated that Obama attended the New Party convention to thank them for their support and help.

New Party Update
by Bruce Bentley
The Chicago New Party is increasely becoming a viable political organization that can make a different in Chicago politics. It is crucial for a political organization to have a solid infrastructure and visible results in its political program. The New Party has continued to solidify this base.
First, in relation to its infrastructure, the NP’s membership has increased since January ’95 from 225 to 440. National membership has increased from 5700 in December ’95 to 7000. Currently the NP’s fiscal balance is $7,000 and receives an average of $450/month is sustainer donations.
Secondly, 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.

Notice what Obama’s task force work was – voter education and registration. Eventually, that work was with ACORN, who is the center of fraud investigations in 10 states now.
A bit more insight into the DSA/New Party ideology can be found in their purpose statement:

The purpose of The Corporation shall be to organize the activities of the members of the Democratic Socialists of America. Its activities shall include education and advocacy. We share a vision of a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality and non-oppressive relationships.

Back in March of this year, the DSA became aware of the flap over Obama’s connections first reported in January. Writer Bob Roman provided this perspective on interest in Obama’s DSA/New Party roots:

This is interesting if you’re an extreme right-wing ideologue of if you’re a DSA member. It probably doesn’t mean much for mainstream politics. Right-wing bloggers have discovered Chicago DSA’s 1996 endorsement of Obama for the Illinois State Senate and Obama’s participation that same year in a University of Chicago Young Democratic Socialists townhall meeting on “Economic Insecurity”. This news started in New Zealand (it is the world wide web indeed) where a local libertarian has been obsessing over Chicago DSA’s links to mainstream Chicago politics. The news gradually (by web standards) spread to right-wing blogs here in the States. It even managed to pop up in a few conservative mainstream venues. More recently, the conservative Accuracy In Media combined this with some juicy Communist Party associations (communist mentor unmasked!) and threw it out as an example of how the news media has a liberal bias for not reporting the story.
Of course, many right-wingers had been convinced Obama is a “socialist” already. If you’re wondering why, it’s mostly because the term “socialist” for these folks has about as much content as “fascist” does for many lefties; it’s an insult not a description. So the news from New Zealand was greeted with an “Aha” by these folks more than anything else.
Much of this noise sounds pretty nice to lefty ears; you can’t buy this kind of publicity. But as it’s all been on right-wing sites, not too many folks bother to follow up on the links, even when they were provided.
On the other hand, this ten day wonder had been pretty much ignored by the left. Until recently when In These Times ran a story warning of the eventual “Red-Boating” of Obama should he win the Democrat’s nomination for President. They probably have it wrong. For influencing more than a handful of voters, the story has no legs. But because DSA and “socialism” generally has become a hate object among the sort of folks who blow-up Federal office buildings and reproductive health clinics (or would like to), the eventual implications for Barack Obama (and for the country) may be far more serious.

Well, I don’t want to blow up any buildings or health clinics but I do think a candidate’s intellectual and political philosophy matters. I don’t hate socialists but I do not want to live in a socialist nation. As Rudolph Penner said yesterday on C-Span, capitalism is not perfect but the alternatives have been worse.
I spoke to a former Hillary support this morning who said she believes her party has been taken over by the far left wing of the party. The party has left behind the centrists. Obama’s leftist heritage matters a lot to her.
As Joe Biden said in the VP debate, “past is prologue.” What does Barack Obama’s affiliation with the far left, socialist New Party say about the prologue of an Obama administration? What in his background and political record says he will now move to the center, and unite the nation? Will someone mentored by the DSA best lead us from economic crisis?
These are fair questions and I am getting increasingly frustrated that the mainstream media will not ask the Obama campaign about these issues. If Obama has moved away from his early mentoring, I would like to hear how, why and when it happened. Wouldn’t you?