Rep. West: The Word ‘Progressives’ Directly Related to Term ‘Communist’

Michael W. Chapman | June 18, 2012 | 7:07pm EDT
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( --  Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) defended his comments about some members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, in their ideology and policy, being communist when asked about the topic on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on Monday.

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Back on Apr. 11 at a town hall event in Florida, West was asked how many members of the “American legislature do you think are card-carrying Marxists or internationalists --? And West said, “I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party -- it’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”

West was criticized by numerous Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton, for that remark. Then on Washington Journal on June 18, a caller asked Rep. West:  “I want to thank you for your service but I’m kind of disappointed because I heard you, a few months ago, call some of your members the House of Representatives communists, and I was wondering if you could identify a few of those?”

Rep. West said: “Well, it’s not about me trying to identify any individuals. I’m talking about principles of governance and philosophy. If you understand, when you say ‘progressives,’ that is directly related back to the term or the label ‘communist’ at the turn of the century – that was a change in marketing, if you want to call it that.”

“But let me ask you the question that you have to come to understand,” said West, “What do you call individuals that would vote against this country having a balanced budget amendment but yet out of their caucus would promote a constitutional amendment that would redistribute wealth in the United States of America?  I think that is against our fundamental and foundational values and  principles that we have here in this country. So, I’d be happy to have this discussion about ideologies any day with you. Come on down here to Washington, D.C., and also there’s a couple videos of me a pretty good historical explanation over about 4 or 5 minutes on that.”

The Washington Journal host then noted that former President Bill Clinton had “joked and sort of mocked that [Apr. 11] comment that you made –”  and West said, “I think that’s pretty awesome that a former president would give me that kind of credence, so.”

In an Apr. 24 commentary on the issue, Rep. West wrote, “My colleagues in the Congressional Progressive Caucus have taken umbrage with my equation of their ideals with those of communists. Why? Why shouldn’t we have this discussion? What part of their agenda are they trying to hide?”

“Specific ‘party’ affiliation is not the point of the discussion,” he wrote, “it is rather affiliation with a set of ideals. Conservatives adhere to the ideals of individual responsibility and freedom, limited government, a free market and a strong defense. Those on the liberal left adhere to a collective ideal, directed and controlled by a centralized government to guarantee and enforce social and economic justice.”

“You can call this what you wish,” said West.  “The esteemed scholar and author Mark Levin calls it ‘statism.’ In our lifetime, the unpalatable and pejorative brands ‘socialist’ and ‘communist’ have been replaced with the more user-friendly ‘progressive’ term.”

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