Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Progressivism = Communism, says Rep. Allen West

U.S. Rep. Allen West, who said last week that he believes 78 to 81 members of Congress are “members of the Communist Party,” is not interested in retracting or apologizing for that ridiculous false statement, although he did say some things on CNN this morning that imply he didn’t mean “members of the Communist Party” quite as literally as it sounds.

Even when he first made his statement at a town hall meeting in his district, West seemed to conflate the membership of the House Progressive Caucus (of which Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison is a co-chair) with membership in the Communist Party.

He repeated that this morning when CNN’s Soledad O’Brien asked him whether, when he said “members of the Community Party,” he meant card-carrying members.

“I’m calling it this,” West said. “Communist progressive, Marxist, socialist, statist, which is another term that’s been used. I’m looking at the ideologies. I’m looking at the things that they believe in. And if you don’t think we have to stand upon truth and be able to identify and clearly contrast the different principles and values and ideologies and principles of governance here in this country, then we’re never going to get to the fact of accepting the true debate that’s happening in America.”

If West believes the “Communist, progressive, Marxist, socialist and statist” all mean the same thing, then he is not a terribly perceptive student of the ideological spectrum. Perhaps, if one was grading on a steep curve, one could say that the idea that “Communist” and “progressive” are synonymous is not so much a falsehood as a misguided opinion.

But even on that curve, you can’t square it with West’s original ridiculosity which went thus:

“I believe it is about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party.”

By the way. West was responding to a question from the audience about how many “card-carrying” Marxists or socialists were in the Congress. It’s not a statement of opinion but a statement of fact that someone is a member of the Communist Party.

As a matter of honor, West needs to retract the original statement, which he absolutely refused to do on CNN this morning. Once he has said that his original statement was false and that he is not aware of any of his colleagues who are literally “members of the Communist Party,” then he can discuss his beliefs about the ideological spectrum.

But until he does that, he is a Know-Nothing, but not literally a member of the political party called the “Know Nothings,” which actually called itself the “American Party” and attracted considerable support in the 1850s for a racist, nativist ideology.

Here’s West on CNN, the stuff about his “communists” statement starts at the 2:23 mark:

Comments (14)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/19/2012 - 12:39 pm.

    It’s the party of willful ignorance. Standing firm against science and history. Inventing a new reality, a fictional past and a delusional future. Don’t believe your lying eyes,your lying calculator, the trend line, the liberal media, or the egghead professors. Your truth is not ordinary truth. Stay tuned to Rush, another word from on-high coming soon.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/19/2012 - 12:40 pm.

    I don’t care what they call themselves

    See, whenever conservatives and libertarians attempt to engage in an ideological debate with the Left, they respond with little word games and label semantics. Col. West’s comments are as articulate as I’ve ever heard. We don’t care what people on the Left call themselves, frankly. We know what they stand for and to have an honest debate in this country, we need the Left to stand up and tell the people the truth.

    West: “And if you don’t think we have to stand upon truth and be able to identify and clearly contrast the different principles and values and ideologies and principles of governance here in this country, then we’re never going to get to the fact of accepting the true debate that’s happening in America.” Exactly.

    We on the right know what the Left stands *against* because they oppose us every day for what we stand *for.* We can only speculate what the Left’s principles are since they won’t own up to them. But as West says, in order to have an honest debate in this country, they need to stand up and tell the people who they are.

    Everyone knows what conservative and libertarian principles are: Limited constitutional government, personal liberty, private property, consumer choice, free markets, lower taxation, regulation and litigation. And we’re ready to explain and defend why those principles are not only those of the founding fathers but why they’ve been responsible for creating the freeist, wealthiest, most powerful nation in the history of the world.

    Our candidates for public office will proudly list these principles of governance and favor legislation that supports them. When the candidates on the Right debate, their differences are nuanced within the boundaries of those principles.

    But if the Left opposes our ideology without articulating one of their own, we’re left to speculate and surmise that since we’re for limited government, they’re for expanded government; if we’re for personal liberty and private property, they’re obviously for mandated collectivism and community property; if we’re for consumer choice and free markets, they prefer that the government make those decisions for them; and if while we’re for lower taxation, regulation and litigation, they demand higher taxation, more regulation and easy litigation. There are named ideologies that encompass those beliefs. Take your pick.

    Some of my friends obsess over the name of the Left’s ideology because they believe they’re trying to hide their true belief system from the American people. I don’t care what they call themselves because whatever it is it’s anti-freedom.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/19/2012 - 02:02 pm.

      The left’s guiding principles with respect to government and economy?

      Money is not the proof of worth. Wealth should not be the determinant of voice or access. The purpose of government is to enable a commonwealth, not to protect wealth. The purpose of the government and the constitution is to guarantee rights, not remove rights. The purpose of the constitution is to protect the minority, not to oppress the minority. The foundation of democracy is dissent and the accepting of dissenting view, not the silencing of dissent. People are more important than profits. Profit is not proof of goodness or rightness. People are more important than businesses. The interests of people and business do not always coincide. History is full of examples of the oppression of people by business, by government, by majority groups–government is to guard against those. People are not machines to work to make money. Money is a tool for improvement, not a commodity to be hoarded. Access to opportunity must be guaranteed. We’re all in this together.

      • Submitted by Ann Spencer on 04/19/2012 - 02:38 pm.

        As a center-left person, I would add

        that the cornerstone of a healthy democracy is a strong middle class. A society characterized by a fabulously wealthy few and a struggling many will devolve into an oppressive regime where the main purpose of government is protecting the assets of the wealthy from the hordes of the needy and civil liberties go by the wayside in the interest of security. Such inequality becomes self-reinforcing as the wealthy few receive a larger share of a nation’s wealth, and the power and influence that goes with it.

        Capitalism completely unfettered by regulation leads to monopoly and the elimination of competition. Sensible regulations such as antitrust laws are necessary to preserve the very competition that is the heart of capitalism.

        Various forms of discrimination are wasteful and ineffiicient because they create artificial barriers to using the talents of all citizens to their maximum extent.

        A healthy democracy is one in which government and private enterprise reinforce each other to promote the prosperity and health of everyone. Government provides the social stability, the infrastructure, the universal access to a decent education that private enterprise needs to prosper. In turn, individuals and businesses are willing to contribute to the public goods that help create the conditions for their success and that benefit all.

        A healthy democracy encourages the broadest possible voting participation and involvement in government because people who feel invested and engaged in their country make the best citizens .

        No successful society anywhere has been built on the principle that everyone gets to do exactly what they want to when they want to without any responsibiity to the community.

        • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/19/2012 - 03:16 pm.

          As society and civilization has matured and become more complex, the importance of a democratic government as a mediator in the sometimes irreconcilable differences between members of that society has grown in importance.

          The open spaces and the difficulty of transiting those spaces acted as the buffer between differing elements in previous times.

          The denial of the importance and necessity of government may is an attempt to return to a simpler time, when the stranger and the effect of the actions of others were moderated by distance rather than laws. There was a time when a decision by a person, a business, or even a government was relatively impotent in changing the flow of life for the remainder of the world.

          No longer.

          The luxury of separation, the ready availability of resources, and the relative simplicity of how to support one’s life and one’s choices are no longer present.

          The need for the mediating influence of rules. laws and constitutions remain. Laissez faire is just a way of transferring control of your life to the most ruthless.

    • Submitted by Sean Huntley on 04/19/2012 - 03:02 pm.

      War criminal West’s original statement was 78 to 81 Democrats in congress are members of the communist party. No matter how you and West try and spin it that statement is a flat out lie.

      Similar to West’s false claim about Democrats being members of the communist party your claim that the left doesn’t articulate their political philosophy is also a lie. You then try to use that false premise as a lousy excuse to justify saying things about Democrats that are flat out untrue. Be honest, just say “I am going to ignore what they actually say about capitalism and just say that they want to destroy it” “I am just going to make stuff up about their views on private property and assign imaginary views to them” etc…..

      You are correct that conservatives defend the concept that their ideas are those of the founding fathers, but more often than not their arguments fail. The founding fathers believed that mandating health care coverage was an acceptable action of the federal government based on the fact that they mandated health care coverage. The founding fathers did not envision the United States as a Christian nation. The founding fathers knew and expressed the dangers of power and money being concentrated in the hands of a small percentage of the population.

      And for the record, the US did not become the freeist, wealthiest, most powerful nation in the history of the world until AFTER FDR’s policies were put in place.

    • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 04/19/2012 - 04:47 pm.

      Personal liberty?

      Only if the acts are allowed or approved by our all knowing right wingers. For example, there is no personal liberty to choose a same sex marriage.

  3. Submitted by Brian Simon on 04/19/2012 - 01:03 pm.

    first commie potus?

    If progressivism=communism, would that make Teddy Roosevelt our first Communist President?

  4. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 04/19/2012 - 03:54 pm.


    this same kind of behavior has been demonstrated by one of the GOP candidates for the nomination to run against Betty McCollum. This person tweeted: “Another major problem in Minnesota are communists in the university system.”

    I have repeatedly requested that he retract this statement. To no avail.

    Voters should look very carefully at what candidates say during the upcoming campaign. Those who make egregiously untrue or unfair statements should not be elected. Unfortunately, as in the case of Rep. Bachmann, in the recent past this kind of behavior has been all too readily tolerated.

    And part of the responsibility for this situation rests on the shoulders of the media, in particular the Star-Tribune and the Pioneer-Press. I am rather disappointed that this kind of behavior is not called out more often.

    Being non-partisan, fair, or unbiased does not mean that such behavior should be ignored.

  5. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/19/2012 - 04:47 pm.

    Who’s he really talking to?

    I have a hard time believing that this communist talk actually resonates with any significant audience beyond an increasingly impotent Tea Party.

  6. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 04/19/2012 - 07:41 pm.

    Engaging in “ideological debate”?

    Isn’t that an oxymoron? To be “ideological” is to hold to a fixed position which is impervious to reason or presumably debate which is supposed to at any rate be based on reason. I suppose if you can describe what people call “debates” in this country, that’s probably wrong.

    For right wingers (supposedly libertarians) one of their so-called “principles” is that life begins at conception. Seeing no contradiction in being a “libertarian” and holding to an ideology that refuses to retreat from the insistence that “life begins at conception”, they also see no contradiction in forcing a woman to carry a foetus to term and then support that child without any assistance from the state which has forced her to bear that child. Plus, they see no contradiction in not prosecuting a woman who has an abortion but in imprisoning, if not murdering, the doctor or midwife who assisted in that abortion.

    They see no contradiction in deregulating or even creating financial exchanges which allow the exchangers who trade on them to rob people of their life savings and their pensions and then accuse the people who have been robbed of being leftists if they propose prosecuting these crooks or, heaven forbid, taxing them on their ill gotten gains.

    My principles? I believe in love God with all my heart soul , strength and mind and love my neighbor as myself including my enemies. I believe in live and let live and minding my own business when it doesn’t concern me or my family. From what I can see from the ramblings of the right in this site, in the news media, and every where else, the right believes I cannot be trusted to mind my own business, that business and corporations have a right to interfere and meddle in my life, degrade the environment and doom my grandchildren to life on an uninhabitable planet, deny me and my children access to affordable and decent health care, etc.

    If the right had a single simple principle that I felt made life worth living and better, I’d be there. But I see nothing, nada, zippo from what has come out of right beginning with Ronnie Reagan in 1980. Nothing but lies and empty promises.

  7. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 04/20/2012 - 07:14 am.

    …and a another one?

    Is there really an Allen West…or is it Bachmann cross dressing?

  8. Submitted by James Murck on 04/20/2012 - 08:54 am.

    The Importance of Ideas

    I was once told by a good friend whose political leanings are far to the right that Ideas Are Important. This I believe to be true. But sometimes it seems that Ideas can become too Important. To me, this phenomenon is called Idolatry. When ideas become idols, anything contrary or that in any way undermines the purity of the ideal becomes suspect, anathema, dangerous and in the end must be exterminated.
    We have many examples throughout history of the destructive results that the idolatrous adherence to ideas has produced whether coming from the left or the right. We are very fortunate in this country to have a governmental structure that was designed with loads of counterpoising checks and balances to mitigate the destructive trends in idolatrous ideological development. It forces lawmakers and politicians to reach across the ideological isle and make deals with the “other side” in order to get things done. It thus encourages lawmakers to reach beyond their own ideas and work with others of differing persuasion to create something new. Ostensibly this is done in the service of advancing the common good, the general welfare of the country.
    What I find troubling today is that it seems that the system has been co-opted and rigged so that lawmakers can’t survive in their positions without abdicating their mandate to serve the general welfare but rather must serve their financial supporters who, more often than not, are ideological purists of some narrow interest group or other and usually loaded with the influence of lots of cash. This leaves that vast swaths of the populous out in the cold without any influence whatsoever and waiting pawns to whatever ideology is powerful, resourced and ruthless enough to prevail.
    This does not bode well for American Liberty or Prosperity. In order to get beyond this dangerous impasse in our national discourse, we need to “disenthrall ourselves and then we will save our country.”

Leave a Reply