A top official of the Communist Party USA on Wednesday ripped Rep. Allen West’s
“sad ploy” for claiming that as many as 80 Democratic members of the House are communists.
“I just think it’s an absurd way to cast a shadow over his colleagues. It’s kind of a sad ploy,” Libero Della Piana, a vice-chairman of the national Communist Party, said of the Florida Republican’s charge that about 80 House Democrats were members of the radical party.
“It’s just guilt by association taken to an extreme,” he told POLITICO. He also said there are no members of Congress who are members of the Communist
Party – not even avowed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
“I think it’s just absurd,” Della Piana said.
In a video clip
of the event posted Wednesday, West was responding a question from a constituent asking “What percentage of the American legislature do you think are card-carrying Marxists?”
“That’s a fair question. I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party,” West says in the video. He went on to say, “It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus,” according to a West spokesman, Tim Edson.
Della Piana also said that using the term “communist” as slander ran counter to democratic principles.
“We are supposed to live in a political democracy,” he said. “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? Can’t choose a Communist to be in Congress?”
In fact, charges from the tea party that President Barack Obama and other Democrats were enacting “socialist” policies has led to increased interest in socialism, Della Piana said.
“I think a lot of Americans were opened up to the idea of socialism because of the tea party’s attack on it,” he said. “I think they put it back on the agenda. By attacking every policy initiative of the president as socialism, they put it back in the public debate… it wasn’t exactly something the average American was talking about before that.”