Frank Marshall Davis and the Subversion of the Democratic Party
A curious specter will be hovering over the Democratic convention this week. It is the ghost of Frank Marshall Davis, Communist Party USA member 47544 and mentor to a young Barack Obama.
Readers of this site are well aware of Davis, from my writings and those of others who have posted articles here. Davis joined the Communist Party during World War II and was unflinchingly pro-Soviet and pro-Red China. He was the founding editor-in-chief of the Chicago Star (1946-48) -- the CPUSA publication for Chicago -- before moving on to the Honolulu Record (1949-57), the CPUSA publication there. He excoriated the Western leaders who stood in the way of Stalin, meaning Winston Churchill and Harry Truman, whom he portrayed as colonialists, imperialists, fascists, and racists. He blasted American initiatives like the Marshall Plan, which he labeled "white imperialism" and "colonial slavery." And because Democrats were the party in power at the time, and thus America's first line of defense against the Red Army, Davis -- who literally wrote poetry hailing Stalin's tanks -- vilified the Democratic Party in particular.
Frank Marshall Davis's politics were so radical, and so pro-Soviet, that the Democrats who ran the Senate in 1956 summoned him to Washington to testify on his pro-Soviet activities. Even more remarkable, the FBI placed him on the federal government's Security Index, meaning that if a war broke out between the United States and the Soviet Union, Obama's mentor could have been placed under immediate arrest.
I've noted this here before. I've also noted Davis's unceasing class-based rhetoric and class warfare. Those words will be echoing throughout the halls of the Democratic convention this week, especially from the mouth of the man Davis influenced.
And yet, that isn't the only way that the presence of Davis will be felt this week. His presence at the Democrats' convention will be felt in a much more profound, troubling way that speaks to the overall leftward drift of the modern Democratic Party. Consider:
After all those years trashing the Democratic Party, Davis, like many American communists, decided to join the Democrats. There were two primary factors that drove this decision: 1) American communists realized that they could never get elected to national office openly campaigning as communists, and 2) when Henry Wallace's Progressive Party collapsed in 1948, the communists who had pervaded it had nowhere else to go. So, many American communists opted to hitch their wagon to a different star -- namely, to the most viable left-leaning party in America: the Democratic Party. Sure, this would be a challenge when they encountered old anti-communist Democrats like John F. Kennedy, Pat McCarran, Thomas Dodd, and Scoop Jackson, but overall, in the long run, they would be patient, and they would seek alliances with Democrats much closer to their collectivist thinking.
Frank Marshall Davis was among these. This tactical move by Davis is evident in his declassified 600-page FBI file, and specifically an April 1950 report that states that "members of the subversive element in Honolulu were concentrating their efforts on infiltration of the Democratic Party through control of Precinct Clubs and organizations." These communist subversives, said the report, were pushing "their candidates in these Precinct Club elections." According to the report, on April 6, 1950, one such candidate, Frank Marshall Davis, was elected "assistant secretary and delegate" to the Territorial Democratic Convention in his particular Precinct Club. This was the Third Precinct of the Fifth District. Davis, in fact, attended that convention on April 30, 1950.
In other words, the Hawaiian Communist Party went underground, realizing that it lacked political viability. Hawaii's communists changed their tactics, concentrating instead on the mainstream Democratic Party, even running their members in local elections to seize delegate positions. One of those who not only urged this tactic, but was himself elected to a Democratic precinct was Frank Marshall Davis.
With that, the steady subversion of the Democratic Party was on. This began a long march to transform the Democratic Party from the party of Truman and JFK to the party of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. And in a quite fascinating twist of history, Frank Marshall Davis, as a "Democrat," would go on to influence today's Democratic Party standard-bearer: Barack Obama.
Tellingly, Davis himself, in an eerily Obama-like sentiment, had emphasized the need for "fundamental change" in America -- advocating exactly that in his kick-off column for the Chicago Star on July 6, 1946. Well, with the Democrats and with Barack Obama, he has gotten just that. Frank Marshall Davis's presence will be there at the Democrats' convention this week.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and author of the new book The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mentor.