John Koons

John Koons

Why is Republican Rep. Lloyd Smucker being attacked for exposing Lancaster Stands Up as socialists?

Perhaps those in the 11th Congressional District don’t know the truth about Lancaster Stands Up and its supporters — perhaps because of the group’s history of operating in the shadows.

Let’s examine some facts.

The organization has been glad-handed by a fawning media like no other community organization. And it has been given every opportunity to suggest that its views, according to paid organizer Eliza Booth, are “mainstream.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I believe Lancaster Stands Up’s efforts to hide its true aims from the public are intentional.

Jonathan Matthew Smucker, the executive director of Beyond the Choir (Lancaster Stands Up’s supporting organization), is a Lancaster Stands Up founder and leadership committee member. He described in-depth at a 2017 talk at the Personal Democracy Forum about how Lancaster Stands Up “created a political opposition” with a “protest face” and “an electoral strategy”.

Sounds like a political organization to me.

Lancaster Stands Up has identified a whole bunch of words they weren’t going to use like “activist” and “protester,” for example. Turns out Jonathan Smucker has been a sought-after presenter for his speeches at Marxism 2012 and his talks on the radical Occupy Wall Street movement. He authored “Hegemony How-to: A Roadmap for Radicals,” published by AK Press, which self-describes as an “anarchist publishing and distribution” company.

Jonathan Smucker’s book boasts such praises as “if Saul Alinsky (‘Rules for Radicals’ author) and Antonio Gramsci (a noted Italian Marxist) … had a bastard lovechild he might be named Jonathan Smucker.” He alleges Jesus was killed for his socialist beliefs, in fact. But pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Lancaster Stands Up’s electoral strategy supported Democrat Jess King’s candidacy for Congress with $150,000 in independent expenditures, funded by five-figure donations from labor unions and checks from the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which is chaired by Eric Holder, who served as attorney general for President Barack Obama.

What did their candidate support? “Medicare for All” is a policy that would cost a whopping $32 trillion according to three independent reports and eliminate private health insurance for 158 million Americans, including six million in Pennsylvania. King also pledged to fight for a Green New Deal, which is characterized by some as a $100 trillion extreme government takeover of nearly every economic sector.

These socialist policies are now trumpeted by the most extreme progressive members of Congress like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and supported by radical groups like Justice Democrats. I encourage readers to check them out. King’s campaign practically plagiarized Jonathan Smucker’s book — no surprise, since he and King’s campaign manager are married.

Now Lancaster Stand Up’s electoral strategy consists of supporting Hobie Crystle, who is running for Lancaster County district attorney and has views on the death penalty similar to those of radical Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.

Of course, Lancaster Stands Up also stands for abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which fights the drug- and human-trafficking rings. Amnesty for immigrants here illegally is too timid for this crowd, which seemingly wants open borders.

Examine Lancaster Stands Up’s “affiliates and sponsors” on its website: Keystone Progress (“Pennsylvania’s largest and most effective progressive organization”), the Indivisible Project (which wrote the book on how to protest and disrupt members of Congress) and Our Revolution (the “next step for Bernie Sanders’ movement”).

What’s that about the “company one keeps?”

How about we take an opportunity to highlight what some of Lancaster Stands Up’s own members have stated on Twitter?

Becca Rast, former Lancaster Stands Up leadership team member, on Feb. 5, 2019: “I think I’ll feel more free under socialism.”

Nick Martin, former Lancaster Stands Up leadership team member, on Feb. 5, 2019: “Trump has framed the fight as Trump vs socialism. Socialism will win.”

Rast and Martin are now working for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, under the banner of a self-avowed socialist.

Does any of this sound “mainstream” to you?

I don’t criticize these individuals, or any member of Lancaster Stands Up, for being politically engaged and motivated by their beliefs. But Rep. Lloyd Smucker is right — they support socialism, yearn for more government intrusion in our lives, and want to tear down free enterprise.

If the fight is, as Martin says, “Trump vs. socialism,” then I pick Trump.

If it’s Lloyd Smucker vs. socialism, I pick Smucker.

But don’t pretend or be misled that Lancaster Stands Up is anything other than what its own founders and leaders openly support and profess — a radical shift toward socialism.

John Koons is the outreach director for the Pennsylvania Federation of College Republicans. He is a graduate student at Elizabethtown College.