Pascrell Versus Gottheimer

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, right, with his colleague U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5)

Con. Resolution 9 “Denouncing the Horrors of Socialism” was put forward by House Republicans, sparking different responses from their Democratic partners on the other side of the aisle. The resolution condemns socialism and the dictatorial regimes of the past and present in broad terms. Two Democrat neighbors, Congressman Bill Pascrell (CD-9), and Congressman Josh Gottheimer (CD-5), both approached the resolution differently, highlighting their differences regarding a resolution that says much but actually accomplishes very little.

Gotthemier voted yes.  Pascrell voted no.  On the surface this seems like a foolish misstep on the part of Pascrell, one that would open him up to assaults from the right side of the aisle.  But there are further considerations for Pascrell’s decision to be made account of and, perhaps the long-time veteran congressman did not make “a rookie mistake” by not throwing a fist at the shade of old-time Bolsheviks.

Gottheimer has championed himself as the bipartisan leader who can bridge the two sides.  He is immensely proud of the Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and consistently hammers home his centrist message to the purple district which he represents.  Gottheimer, 47 years old, is an energetic congressman who many politicos believe has further aspirations for his political career.  He emerged victorious for a second time over Republican challenger Frank Pallotta in 2022 with approximately the same percentage he secured in 2020.  Whether or not Gottheimer’s name comes up again as a potential governor or, perhaps, presidential candidate remains to be seen, but the basic fact is, he has plenty of time and the ability to raise enormous campaign funds to follow up on whatever he decides to do.

For Gottheimer, voting “yes” on the Republican resolution to condemn the likes of communist dictators Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Fidel Castro, and Mao Zedong represented low-hanging fruit and an easy decision.  After all, anyone remotely acquainted with the 20th Century knows that these communist and socialist regimes industrialized mass murder on an unimaginable scale, and every Cold War president—whether an R or a D—was unquestionably anti-communist.

For Gottheimer, it was a no-brainer.  Who would criticize the condemnation of Kim Jong Un or Pol Pot except, perhaps, for fans of Kim Jong Un and Pol Pot?

“We live in the greatest country in the world, and I will always stand strongly against socialism to protect our democracy and our nation’s economy,” Gottheimer said in a statement Thursday.  “One of the core views of capitalism is free market competition — that is the key to growing our economy for all Americans.  We have seen human rights abuses, mass murders, and economic turmoil under socialist regimes in countries like China, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, and Russia. America must never become a socialist nation.  That is why today, I joined my House colleagues on both sides of the aisle to denounce socialism.”

Pascrell, however, took another approach.

“What are Republican’s making us vote on in the House today?” Pascrell asked.  “Most Americans would be embarrassed that with everything happening in the world, Republicans have wasted days of time to vote on a resolution saying Lenin, Stalin, and Mao were bad guys. Lenin, Stalin, and Mao were awful and socialism is a sham – I agree!”

Although Pascrell, himself a Cold War US army veteran, is of a like-mind with most Americans and mainstream free-market capitalists that such men were the “bad guys,” Pascrell voted no, against the resolution. 

“I am voting no on this charade because Republicans have been in power just a few days and this is the nonsense they’re offering,” Pascrell said. “They have nothing else: no plan on such American priorities as lowering health costs, combating inflation, or improving access to childcare. The GOP can only look backward and never forward: no ideas, no legislation, no aspirations, no plans. All Republicans have is stale bread and stinky circuses. These first few weeks of Republican governance are already an absolute embarrassment to America.”

Pascrell just celebrated his 86th birthday on January 25.  Universally known to be a no-nonsense, pugilistic Patersonian, Pascrell has repeatedly called out the Chinese Communist Party in general and on specific topics, as well as Vladimir Putin, over the years.  His own record shows as much and it is evident that Pascrell, a man unlikely to seek yet another term in office, has thrown off any vestiges of pretense when it comes to “playing the game” in the House.

Republicans will inevitably point to Pascrell’s “no” vote to condemn socialism in general as a way to attack a Democrat.  He did not, after all, take the low-hanging fruit as Gottheimer did.  But Pascrell derided the resolution as a waste of time, his voice joining other dissenting Democrats, such as Minnesota’s Rep. Betty McCollum.

“Let’s be clear about what this resolution is.  A complete waste of time,” McCollum said.  “This resolution is not about Stalin. It is not about Mao. It is not about Castro.  It is not even about condemning the human rights abuses that many communist dictators throughout history have committed. Instead, the Republican majority has thrown together a poorly written, ill-conceived resolution so sloppy that it condemns socialism in all its forms. That includes important allies and friends of the United States that have mainstream socialist political parties like Albania, Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Luxembourg, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden. With this resolution, House Republicans are sending a message to these nations that we condemn the domestic political process within their nations. That is outrageous.”

McCollum, however, like many Americans, does not wholly elucidate on the American and European concepts of socialism.  There are, indeed, many “socialist” parties in Europe, and neither the Republican nor Democratic Parties in the US are actually socialist in even the most remote sense.  But Europe, which saw the central and eastern portion of the continent suffer under the brutality of the Iron Curtain, understands socialism to be the actual state-usurpation of private property and private enterprise, not deriding single-use plastic bans or regulating natural gas stoves as “communist” oppression.  Democrats and Republicans have their differences, but both parties reliably side with Big Business with respect to policy.  Few Democrats actually support a universal state health system, something found in every developed, First World country, and few countries in the world consider such an idea to be practically and pragmatically “socialist.”

Eurasian socialism has barbed wire, guard dogs, machine gun nests, secret police, brazen propaganda, suppression of dissent, and an unchangeable power structure.

“At a time of crisis for the world when Vladimir Putin is waging the largest war in Europe in over seventy years, Congress should be working to strengthen the relationships with our fellow democracies, not passing poorly written messaging bills that will alienate our friends and allies,” McCollum said, worried about offending European partners.  “As Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, I know just how crucial it is to maintain relationships with our NATO allies. This weekend I will join the Minnesota National Guard in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange—the longest-running military partnership between two nations. Make no mistake, this resolution is not just an insult to the Norwegian government, but an insult to the Norwegian Home Guard and Norwegian Armed Forces who sacrifice to defend their nation from the Russian threat.”

But is McCollum actually afraid of giving offense where there is no offense to be given?  Consider, when Senator Bernie Sanders was running for president in 2015, he had referred to Denmark as a socialist country that was a functioning example of a successful nation.  The Danish Prime Minister at the time, however, Lars Rasmussen, pushed back against the label.  “I would like to make one thing clear,” Prime Minister Rasmussen said, “Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy… the Nordic model is an expanded welfare state which provides a high level of security to its citizens,” further adding that Denmark has “a successful market economy with much freedom to pursue your dreams and live your life as you wish.”

From their own leadership: Denmark is not socialist.  Norway is not socialist, either, even if McCollum is concerned about harming Oslo with a resolution aimed at the ghosts of Mao and Lenin.  Both Norway and Denmark are highly developed constitutional monarchies with parliamentary democracies that manage mixed-market systems with an emphasis on low-regulation combined with worker protections.

No guard dogs, no razor wire, nobody listening in on phone calls.

While Congressman Pascrell could have simply abstained from voting on the resolution, he chose not to and cast a vote against.  This sent a clear message that he was not about playing games, even if it does not look good in the immediate short term.  But Pascrell joined with 10 other New Jersey congressmen in voting to establish the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party in January.  This committee’s purpose is to investigate ways to protect the US from Chinese Communist influence and aggression.  Pascrell was happy to vote for it, although Democrat Representatives Frank Pallone and Bonnie Watson Coleman did not.

Pascrell did, however, emphasize that the Select Committee should stay on track and not become an abettor or vehicle for anti-Asian-American sentiment in the US, a problem which has been growing over the years with the rise of xenophobic and racially-motivated attacks.

As far as business ventures go, Pascrell has been wary of the Chinese Communist Party’s fingerprints on the solar energy industry.  In March of last year, Pascrell praised the Department of Commerce’s decision to investigate abuses by Chinese elements in the energy industry.

“It has been 20 years since we regrettably allowed China to enter the World Trade Organization,” Pascrell said. “Today the Chinese Communist Party is using that to break the rules at every turn. We cannot have fair trade if one side is lying and cheating. I was proud to lead a bipartisan effort in the House to ensure this case received full and fair consideration. I am encouraged the Biden Administration is not letting Chicken Little’s with their hyperbolic and hysterical rhetoric about the impacts case continue to undermine our domestic manufacturing goals, trade remedy laws, and efforts to have an untainted domestic supply chain for solar manufacturing. The Biden administration must be relentless in stopping the Chinese government’s bad acts and bad acts by Chinese companies and their accomplices. This is a good start.”

So while Pascrell could have easily voted “yes” or abstained on the resolution, by voting “no” against a pragmatically meaningless gesture underscores his confidence in his own record.  He can, and likely will, buttress and shield his criticisms of the resolution from attacks to come thanks to the actual bipartisan legislation he has supported, standing against the horrors of 20th and 21st Century’s socialist regimes.

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6 responses to “Pascrell Versus Gottheimer”

  1. Mrs. Mccollum knows darn well that this bill is not attacking countries like Norway and Sweden which are not socialist and is attaking countries througout History like North Korea, U.S.S.R and Cuba which have implemeneted state sponsored Socialism ( which even they said was thie first stage leading to Communism). To vote no shows a lack of disrespect to those who suffered and still suffered from this idealogy.

    Mr Pascrell however should know better since he and many Democrats have passed nonsense bills like celebrating a sports team or such that mean nothing. They are no different than the republicans. He is a bloviating self seeker who should get retire.

  2. Pascrell is a dummy and a fool. He voted “No” against the resolution, yet passes totally Socialist spending and socialist program bills. Case in point: 87,000 IRS Nazi goose-steppers to attack the middle and lower class workers to squeeze as much out of them financially as possible. That’s socialism/communism.

    Pascrell is nothing more than a “useful idiot” that passes Socialist tyrannical bills like Gun Control, progressive taxation (Communist plank), spending bills (Green Raw Deal), etc. He should have retired years ago, but is hellbent on extorting and bribing taxpayers as long as he can to fill his private bank accounts (onshore and offshore). What Pascrell is doing is what the Soviet Oligarchs did in the former Soviet Union. That makes him a Socialist-Communist, and he can’t talk his way out of it.

    As a former Congressional candidate in the 8th District (1990), I supported voting against the exact programs that Pascrell is voting for now because they were socialist and communist bills . Pascrell has to go. He’s too old and mentally deficient to keep in office, other than for pandering to his constituents so he can get one last massive extortion payment from the taxpayer.


    Shocked to learn this Marxist fellow (response#2) is an older person. Reading his previous comments, I mistakenly thought he was a young disgruntled fellow living in his mom’s basement. But NO, he is a senior.
    So sad, a whole, or nearly a whole, lifetime of being disgruntled……… sincere sympathy.

    Enjoyed this informative column.
    I commend both Rep. Gottheimer and Rep. Pascrell for being authentic and true to themselves.

  4. It is amusing to see Pascrell, who sought to become a member of AOCs anti-American Squad, finally vote in favor of socialism. As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, he was in a position to put some brakes on the drunken sailor borrowing that pushed the national debt above $31 Trillion dollars, but he rubber stamped Pelosi s path to debt slavery. He talks a good game, but votes to bludgeon the taxpayer senseless every time.

  5. We have major problems that need be solved like Immigration, Gun Safety, Deficit spending, etc. Both parties should be working together constructively. How does this resolution help to solve our problems? Better yet, why do we keep reelecting the same people to congress who continue to fail at solving these problems? In the private sector when you fail you lose your job. We need ELECTORAL REFORM in New Jersey so that we have more choices in our elections.

  6. Sorry to disappoint the Communist who responded to me (See response #3) that I am an older person, who slanders me as having a lifetime of being disgruntled.
    The writer is obviously clueless about history and nothing more than a troll. I may be and older person, but can still run rings around “useful idiots” like leftist/Socialist/Communist Commenter #3.

    I’ve lived through the era and have seen what Socialism and Communism does to governments, countries and the citizenry. My grandparents and great grandparents escaped socialism in Europe and came to the U.S.

    So, before trolls like Commenter #3 shrieks bovine scatology like a typical left-wing feminazi, she should go see the Holocaust Museum to see what Socialism and Communism did to people.

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