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GOP congressman launches ‘Anti-Socialism Caucus’ to ‘defend liberty’

Utah Rep. Chris Stewart has been a frequent, fierce critic of socialism.

Republican Congressman Chris Stewart (UT) has received formal approval to form an "anti-socialism caucus." (Photo credit: George Frey/Getty Images)
Republican Congressman Chris Stewart (UT) has received formal approval to form an "anti-socialism caucus." (Photo credit: George Frey/Getty Images)

A Republican congressman has received approval to set up an “Anti-Socialism Caucus” in the House of Representatives, which he said would highlight the “dark history” of the political ideology.

“Just received approval from the House for the formation of the Anti-Socialism Caucus. This caucus will defend individual liberty & free markets and highlight the dark history of socialism,” Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) tweeted Thursday.

Stewart originally created the caucus in February, but it was only green-lit on Wednesday. In the initial press release, Stewart spoke of the “dangers of socialism,” saying that, “wherever it rears its head, it leaves a wake of destruction in lives and freedoms lost.”

“So much time has passed from the fall of the Iron Curtain that many have internalized — or never experienced — socialism’s ultimate price,” Stewart said. “If we fail to recall those dangerous times, the primitive appeal of socialism will advance and infect our institutions.”

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As evidence of socialism’s growing threat, Stewart pointed to polls showing that 53% of American millennials favored socialism over capitalism. However, Stewart then cited both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping as examples of socialist adversaries — despite the fact that both countries have spent a good portion of the last decade moving away from socialism to embrace crony capitalism and authoritarianism.

This isn’t the first time Stewart has warned of the dangers from the left. In a February op-ed in The Salt Lake Tribune, he wrote that Democratic candidates’ embrace of “socialist policies” — like universal healthcare, increased minimum wage, and higher taxes — would inevitably “put our nation on a path of deprivation and despair.”

“This troubling development is a sign that too many Americans are unaware of the bleak realities of socialism. For this reason I have organized the Anti-Socialism Caucus in the House of Representatives,” Stewart wrote. “The purpose of this caucus is to educate the American people and lawmakers why socialist policies and programs ultimately end up hurting the very people they purport to help.”

Stewart’s diatribes are the latest piece of Republican scaremongering against socialism. At the annual CPAC conference in March, conservative commentators — including former White House Adviser Sebastian Gorka, White House Economic Director Larry Kudlow, and President Donald Trump — aggressively warned attendees of the supposed threat of socially progressive policies.

“Democrat lawmakers are now embracing socialism. They want to replace individual rights with total government domination,” Trump claimed. “…Socialism is about only one thing. It’s called ‘power for the ruling class.’ That’s what it is. Look at what’s happening in Venezuela and so many other places. All of us are here today because we know that the future does not belong to those who believe in socialism.”

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Glenn Beck, a conservative radio host and founder of TheBlaze, went a step further, likening socialism to the villain from “Friday the 13th” because it “seems to stalk college co-eds.”

“Jason is coming for you and he has a hammer and a sickle,” he said.

Claims that the broader Democratic Party is embracing socialism are inaccurate. While many in the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates have embraced progressive policies like higher taxes on the rich, only Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) can be readily described as a socialist (Sanders has also called himself a “Democratic socialist” in the past).

In Congress, Nancy Pelosi was quick to walk back on the idea that socialism was spreading through the wider Democratic Party in the wake of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) surprise primary victory last June. Ocasio-Cortez had been endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America and is herself a member of the group.

“Nobody’s district is representative of somebody else’s district,” Pelosi said. “It should not be viewed as something that stands for everything else.”

The two have since worked together on a number of issues, though Pelosi has maintained her distance from Ocasio-Cortez on things like the Green New Deal, an ambitious plan to tackle climate change which conservative opponents have labeled a socialist-plot against Americans.