5:00pm November 26, 2010

Allen West: How Conservative Will He Be?

LTC Allen West

Congressman-elect Allen West (R-FL), one of two African Americans elected to the GOP ranks of the U.S. House of Representatives during the 2010 congressional midterms, is already making headlines.  After organizing a sensational campaign, West rode the Tea Party wave to victory with over 55% of the total vote, defeating incumbent Democrat Ron Klein for Florida’s 22nd District seat.

Though the conservative wave helped put West in office, he knows that Florida’s 22nd is not a guarantee for Democrat or Republican representation.  He may end up having to play both sides of the aisle if he hopes to create a legacy that will enable him to stay in office beyond his first term.

Now, with congressional orientation already underway, the question remains:  just how conservative will Congressman West be?

He’s showed early signs of staying true to his conservative base.  Not only has West welcomed the support of the Tea Party, he also named ultra conservative talk show host Joyce Kaufman as his Chief of Staff.  Though Kaufman will not serve in this post, one wonders why West would want to bring onto his staff someone who is known so well known for her racially charged and incendiary remarks.

Kaufman – a Florida ‘shock-jock’ by all accounts – has said that she is “convinced the most important thing the Founding Fathers did to ensure me my First Amendment rights was they gave me a Second Amendment.”  She has also proclaimed that “if ballots don’t work, bullets will.”

West defended his choice of Kaufman stating, “I was not hiring a talk radio host.  I was hiring a very brilliant political mind, someone that has been in South Florida politics for 20-plus years.” He was also very quick to defend Kaufman, saying that “the way that they went after Joyce Kaufman shows that…this liberal left has some issues with racism….[a]nd the fact that they’re attacking a woman like this, that shows me something about sexism and misogynist behavior.”

At the same time that he clings to his uberconservative base, however, West, unlike his counterpart Tim Scott (R-SC), has signaled an interest and willingness to join the Congressional Black Caucus, even going so far as to attend a CBC meeting last week.

West, who admits that he has different views than most sitting members of the CBC with respect to policy and programs geared toward helping the African American community, seems most interested in bringing a diversity of viewpoints to the table.

“One of the problems we see in relation to the black community is that we cannot have this monolithic viewpoint of victimization and dependency,” he said.  “The most important thing is that there has to be a different perspective. There has to be a different voice. We cannot have this monolithic voice.”

Though, as reported by the St. Petersburg Times, West has “promised to bring the ‘left-wing vile, vicious, despicable machine’ to its knees,” we will soon find out whether his bark matches his bite.  Will he stay true to his ultraconservative roots? Or will Congressman Allen West become a congressional game changer, akin to a modern-day J.C. Watts?

The story has yet to unravel, but given his behavior thus far, compromise just might be on the good Congressman’s agenda.

About the Author

Britton Loftin
Britton Loftin is a Political Strategist and Director of a Legislative & Government Affairs firm.



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  1. Larry Snowden

    Mr. Loftin, it is obvious that you know very little about Representative Elect, Allen West. If you knew him or knew anything about him you would know that he is not one to play games and play both sides of the aisle. Allen West is committed to his conservative convictions and sees no room to compromise his core beliefs. If you get to know Allen West you will soon realize that the whole basis of your above article has no logic. Allen West is what he is and that is the reason that we elected him to represent us.

    • JenebaSpeaks

      Larry, the man will have to compromise on something to get something done. Certainly, he cannot go back to his district boasting about being an obstructionist for most of his terms. The way politics work is that you go in committed to certain ideals but quickly learn the game does not accommodate for such a stubborn stance. Notwithstanding all of that, he is fortunate to have the majority in Congress share his political leanings, for the most part, so he may NOT need to do THAT much compromising for the next few months anyway. I'll be watching as well…


    Apparently, the clock ticking toward his deadline was the controlling factor over the amount and quality of the content in Loftin's column. Presumably, he had neither time nor inclination to wear out any shoe leather or expend much energy in chasing down facts for his article. Second hand info it seems, was deemed, 'good enough'. Had he read some of the detailed position papers authored by Allen West or viewed a few of his videos on YouTube, in which West articulates his carefully-analyzed, well thought-through conclusions that support his firmly-held positions on issues confronting our nation, Loftin could never have posed the question – "Allen West: How Conservative Will He Be?" Should he choose to become more informed, Loftin will learn that Allen West is a man of principle. Initially, that concept might be alien and a tad difficult for a Washington-insider political reporter to get his arms around.

    It is however, typical of the character-building that results from a solid, southern family upbringing


    a solidly American education – and 22 years of active service as a career officer in the U.S. Army, battle-tested and decorated for valor.
    West's views are indeed, 'conservative'. They've evolved after years of training and his talent for dispassionate assessment of life and death situations – such as we are facing as a nation, today. Loftin suggests in his conclusion that, "compromise just might be on the good Congressman's agenda." Suggesting that West 'Go along to get along' indicates Loftin should learn some more about his subject or risk embarrassing himself, again. He should also bone up on who and what Joyce Kaufman is all about.
    Get off your duff Britton, old chap – ply your trade. Writing is the easy part; the hard part is thinking before you write.

  4. Jam

    Sounds like Allen West posted a comment.

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