The Communist Party doesn’t have much of a presence in the United States. In fact, the Communist Party USA only boasts about 20,000 registered members, and certainly lacks the clout and influence necessary to defeat candidates from either dominant party.
That’s why it was particularly astounding when Republican Congressman Allen West, the man Herman Cain wants to be vice president, told a town hall audience last night that the Communist Party boasts at about 80 members of Congress.
“I believe there are about 78-to-81 members that members of the Communist Party,” West said last night after being asked how Democrats are “card-carrying communists,” an inquiry he described as a “fair question.”
The Communist Party USA, suddenly, surprisingly in the political spotlight, immediately hit back at West. Libero Della Piano told Politico that West’s remarks are “an absurd way to cast a shadow over his colleagues. It’s kind of a sad ploy.”
“It’s just guilt by association taken to an extreme,” Della Piano said, before lambasting West for using communist as a pejorative. “We are supposed to live in a political democracy. I didn’t know that being a Communist in Congress was off-limits or out of bounds. There aren’t any now and if there were in the future does that mean that the voters don’t have a say?”
West’s office is now defending the Tea Party-backed Republican with a penchant for Islamophobic and homophobic hyperbole. “West was referring to the Progressive Caucus when he suggested there are Communist party members in the House,” a spokesman reportedly told Fox News’ Chad Pergram.
Another spokesperson told NBC News, “The Congressman was referring to the 76 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The Communist Party has publicly referred to the Progressive Caucus as its allies… These individuals certainly aren’t proponents of free markets or individual economic freedom.” Because, you know, to West and his GOP colleagues, progressive and communist are one-and-the-same: self-centered individualism is always better, they say, than collectivity.
Here’s video of West making the “Democrats are Communist” remark: