In a floor speech last night, Rep. Allen West (R-FL) attempted to expound on the Republican party’s record of defending personal freedom over the past 150 years. However, as often happens when West speaks, the rhetoric quickly turned nasty.
West turned the subject away from the GOP’s record to the Democratic Party’s supposed dislike of equality, saying that the Democrats’ support for a robust social safety net amounts to “the most insidious form of slavery remaining in the world today”:
“Our party firmly believes in the safety net,” West said in a late Wednesday floor speech. “We reject the idea of the safety net becoming a hammock.
“For this reason, the Republican value of minimizing government dependence is particularly beneficial to the poorest among us,” he continued. “Conversely, the Democratic appetite for ever-increasing redistributionary handouts is in fact the most insidious form of slavery remaining in the world today, and it does not promote economic freedom.”
West is either unaware or callously dismissive of the fact that there are an estimated 12.3 million actual forced laborers around the globe, according to the International Labour Organization. Among them are many sweatshop workers held illegally and paid very little, girls and women forced into prostitution, and many others.
The issue of slavery, while legally settled in the United States, has not been solved globally. In fact, according to the United Nations’ Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, “estimated global annual profits made from the exploitation of all trafficked forced labour are US $31.6 billion.”
Of course, it is possible that West believes that support for the social safety net is a greater evil than actual slavery. But if that’s the case, there are millions of people worldwide who disagree with him.