Rep. Allen West (R-FL) clarified his earlier claim that members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are communists at a press event with other House GOP conservatives Tuesday afternoon. He said communism is defined broadly as the creation and expansion of a welfare state.
West, a prolific fundraiser, has also recently started raising money by trumpeting his willingness to call House Democrats communists, in an e-mail to supporters: “In response to a question about Marxists in Congress, I called out the Congressional Progressive Caucus for their extreme left-wing positions. I stand by the point of my comments and I need you to stand with me today by making a contribution of $10 or more.”
Some of West’s colleagues nodded along as he spoke on Tuesday, while others appeared somewhat uncomfortable. None offered any pushback when he finished making his point.
“No, I don’t regret it whatsoever,” West said. “And I think that if you would take the time to study the political spectrum of ideologies, you’d understand that at the turn of the [20th] century, American Communists renamed themselves as progressives. If you study the Woodrow Wilson administration, people referred to the Woodrow Wilson administration as a progressive administration.
Notable in West’s grasp of early 20th century political history is the implication that President Woodrow Wilson was a communist who hid under progressive label. A lot of people would disagree with this — notably actual socialists and communists in America at the time.
Florida-based conservative site The Shark Tankhas video:
“Now, what I would hope that people would do in the media is — maybe you should do a little research, and start looking at what political ideology they stand for. There’s a very thin line between communism, progressivism, Marxism, socialism — or even, as Mark Levin has said, statism. It’s about nationalizing production, it’s about creating and expanding the welfare state. It’s about this idea of social and economic justice. And you hear that being played out — you know, now with fairness, fair share, economic equality, shared sacrifice, ad nauseum, ad infinitum.”
“And it’s also about the creation of a secular state. And this whole argument that the liberal left is trying to take you down, talking about women’s contraception, is really about a federal government that is reclassifying religious organizations, for them to be able to manipulate them however they wish. So that’s what I wish people would focus on.”
West also challenged his opponents to a debate: “And I would welcome anyone, to have a discussion, and a debate about political ideology. Because when you look at what’s happened in this country right now, you tell me that this government is not nationalizing production: automobile industry, financial sector, health care, cap and trade, and not going through the legislative process — look at what they’re doing through the EPA, as far as the energy sector. Look at what’s happening with the National Labor Relations Board. Who would have ever though we would live in the United States of America, where the federal government would be telling a private-sector organization where they can relocate?”
When a reporter followed up and challenged West on whether he truly believes that his opponents believe in radical political philosophies, West became visibly upset. “I just went down the line and gave you examples of legislation,” he said, launching into another onslaught about how more people have gone on food stamps in the last few years.
“That’s what I’m talking about — creating and expanding the welfare state. So folks, do your research. Understand these ideologies. And this is the choice between two very clear futures for the United States of America. And I’m not gonna back down, I’m not gonna be afraid about the fact that I call a spade a spade. That’s my responsibility to the American people.”
Additional reporting by Sahil Kapur.