Tea Party favorite Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., isn’t backing down from comments he made at a fundraiser two weeks ago calling members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “communists.” In fact, he’s coming out swinging.
West received considerable media criticism for his remarks, and the CPC immediately denounced him and denied it has connections with the Communist Party USA, Democratic Socialists of America or any other socialist group.
“We completely disavow it,” Jennifer Gore, communications director for CPC Chairman Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said.
Many on the left accused him of evoking the “ghost of Joe McCarthy’s ulcerous accusation.”
Various members of the CPC have maintained unofficial ties with the DSA over the years, and the DSA formerly maintained a page dedicated to supporting much of the CPC’s agenda on its website until a few years ago.
“I don’t regret it whatsoever,” West told Red Alert Politics Tuesday at a Capitol Hill event sponsored by a new congressional organization calling itself Conversations with Conservatives. “I think that if you were to take the time to study the political spectrum of ideologies at the turn of the century, American communists renamed themselves as progressives.
“If you study the Woodrow Wilson, people referred to the Woodrow Wilson administration as ‘a progressive administration,’” West continued. “Now I would hope maybe you in media would do a little bit of research and look at political ideologies and what they stand for.”
However, according to conservative author Dr. Paul Kengor’s book “Dupes” and documents from the Communist Party USA archives at the Library of Congress, the early communists actively opposed Wilson and his Attorney General Alexander Mitchell Palmer’s anti-communist raids.
West sees a “very thin line” between progressivism, communism and statism.
“It’s about nationalizing means of production. It’s about expanding the welfare state and economic justice,” West said. “You hear that now played out with fairness, fair share or economic equality, shared sacrifice ad infinitum. It’s also about the creation of a secular state”
The left consistently accuses conservatives and members of the Tea Party of being racists, sexists and homophobes, but West is outraged that the same scrutiny has not been visited against the Democrats’ ideology.
“When you look at this government right now, you tell me that this government is not nationalizing means of production – automobile industry, financial sector, health care, “ West said. “Cap and trade did not go through the legislature due process. Look at what they are doing at the EPA as far as the energy sector. Look at what’s happening through the National Labor Relations Board.
“Who would have ever thought we would be dealing with a private-sector organization and having the federal government telling them where they can relocate?”
The congressman then came out swinging against the CPC, attacking them for opposing a balanced-budget amendment and for supporting a constitutional amendment to “redistribute wealth.”
“I stand by what I’m saying,” West said.
The DSA, however, told Red Alert Politics that the CPC’s agenda doesn’t go far enough to the left for them, and that although members of Congress such as Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Jan Shakowsky,D-Ill., and even President Obama, have attended their functions over the years, they are not members.
“We invite lots of people to speak at our meetings. Many are not members of DSA. And many people who are not members of DSA have spoken at local or national meetings of our organization. Jack Kemp even spoke at one that I organized,” said former DSA National Director Frank Lllewellyn. “We would love it if Bernie Sanders was a member. He wants to be independent of organizations and we respect that.
“The reference to Jan Schakowsky says that she is a member of the Progressive Caucus not DSA. In order to be a member of DSA you have to make a payment of dues to us and maintain that every year.”
Lllewellyn chided West’s definition of socialism, asking if the U.S. government practiced socialism in the 19th century when it gave land grants to the nation’s railroads amid its westward expansion.
“[D]oes he agree with Newt Gingrich that they were good investments? “ Llewellyn said. “Most socialists would say that such bailouts and grants may be necessary, but that they don’t do very much to change the power of large corporations or their role in the economy. “
According to Accuracy in Media, CPC members such as Rep. Danny Davis,D-Ill., have received awards from the CPUSA.