"How Many Socialists Sit in Congress Today?" | Bleader

Friday, August 20, 2010

"How Many Socialists Sit in Congress Today?"

Posted By on 08.20.10 at 02:22 PM

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We all know President Barack Obama is a hardcore left-wing socialist, but what about our representatives in Congress? The website WorldNetDaily, which is one of your Tea-Partying Uncle Bob's regular morning reads, claims that the Democratic Socialists of America organization has at least 70 dues-paying members sitting in the chambers at this very moment. And its own investigations suggest "the number of actual avowed or semi-secret socialists in the House and Senate is considerably higher—at least 82."

WND points to this October 2009 "Democratic Socialists of America newsletter", which llists six Illinois reps—Danny Davis, Luis Gutierrez, Phil Hare, Jesse Jackson Jr., Bobby Rush, and Jan Schakowsky—as 'THE SOCIALIST IN ELECTED OFFICE TODAY." There's just one small problem: the newsletter is a fake.

A few elements tip off the observant reader. At the top of the page is the header "American Socialist Voter," and at the bottom, the url for that group's website. Its "Demographics" section is empty and cites "unknown" information—wouldn't the DSA have those numbers and reproduce them for its members, instead of publishing blank spaces? The list of names of supposed DSA members in Congress is actually a copy of the Progressive Caucus's membership rolls. And the newsletter Q&A is "completely fictitious," says DSA national director Frank Llewellyn.

"This is a new formulation of a charge that's been going around for years," Llewellyn says. "It all stems from the fact that for a brief time shortly after the Progressive Caucus was formed, we had posted their member list on our website. Right-wingers doing research found themselves coming to our website, because the Caucus didn't have one, and lights went off in their heads." To his recollection, the last paying member of the DSA to serve in Congress was Brooklyn-based Major Owens, who retired from Congress in 2007.

Doing its part, American Socialist Voter—a "network" for socialist discussion and information—has posted on its website a picture of Joe McCarthy with a message to "all the Republican & Tea Party pundits and bloggers" addressing the phony newsletter. "The list of 70 names does not belong to any socialist organization," the ASV website says. "It was quoted from the Progressive Caucus which to any right-winger is too liberal. For socialists it is too liberal in the other direction."

Well, maybe too liberal for American Socialist Voter. The Democratic Socialists of America, on the other hand, has friendly relationships with many caucus members. Bob Roman, editor of the local DSA chapter's New Ground newsletter, says members of the Chicago delegation have attended DSA dinners and other events, and that the chapter is generally "supportive" of the caucus. "Some conservatives have trouble wrapping their heads around the fact that the DSA is a loose organization," he says. "If people are not inclined to do something, they don't do it." And that includes signing up, apparently.

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