In an effort to end the drawn out kerfuffle plaguing Allen West’s every step, the Florida Congressman penned an op-ed in The Hill clarifying his recent jaw-dropping assertion that no less than 78 Democratic lawmakers in Congress are communists.
Much has been made of my recent response to a question from a constituent and assertion regarding so-called “communists” in the Congressional Progressive Caucus. I am pleased it has inspired so much passionate debate, for that was precisely the point.
When I was studying for my two master’s degrees in political science at Kansas State University and at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff Officer College, the very best professors were those who would begin each lecture with a challenging assertion. It engaged discussion and analysis, and was the best way to uncover the essence of the particular subject of the day.
As Americans, we must bring to the fore this fundamental discussion of what we want our country to be. Do we veer from our Founders’ vision of a constitutional republic that preserves and protects the individual sovereignty of its citizens, along with the free market and the rights of the several states, or do we continue to slide down this path of expanding the secular welfare state, nationalizing production and enforcing economic equality?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?
Indeed, using specific examples, Rep. West makes the compelling argument that the federal government is becoming too centralized and bureaucratic, threatening our most basic civil liberties by restricting free choice and regulating are daily lives. (Honestly, at the end of the day, does it really matter what kind of light bulbs I use?) In any case, he explains how lawmakers on both sides of the aisle must be willing to discuss openly the problems that threaten the solvency and prosperity of the nation. The ever-expanding welfare state, he contends, is not only bleeding the most productive sector of the American economy dry, but stupidly using taxpayer dollars to fund government programs that have demonstrably and repeatedly failed. And perhaps worst of all – as he’s stated on numerous occasions – he believes the American dream is slipping away.
Curiously, however, it appears his inflammatory remarks were not necessarily meant to offend his Democratic colleagues. (Good luck trying to sell that argument to embittered Democrats, by the way). Anyway, according to him, his poor word choice was ultimately a matter of semantics.
Specific “party” affiliation is not the point of the discussion — 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. 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.
I think it’s safe to say that Congressman West’s ‘stunt’ wasn’t a gaffe. Clearly, as he reiterates in his piece, he consciously chose to use those words. Still, if his only purpose was to spark a spirited debate about the role of government – and reopen discussions about the Obama administration’s failed economic policies – it’s quite obvious he succeeded.