As I write this, Keith Ellison is generally considered to be the frontrunner to be the next Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Keith Ellison?! Really! Have the Dems taken leave of their senses? Surely there must be a better choice.
Students of politics and history know that generally there has been a natural ebb and flow with respect to the popularity of the Republican and Democratic parties. One year, you’re up; the next year you’re down. Four short years ago, it was the GOP that was in disarray. Romney, running arguably the worst Presidential campaign in my lifetime, had just lost a very winnable election to President Obama. Furthermore, there was no obvious successor to run in 2016, and, besides, it seemed likely that Hillary Clinton would defeat whomever the GOP might nominate. In addition, the demographics of the country were shifting in favor of the Dems. Some overly giddy DEM-leaning political analysts were even predicting the demise of the GOP as a major party.
Well, as is usually the case, the pendulum has swung. In the wake of Donald Trump’s surprise victory, the GOP now controls the Presidency, both house of Congress and a large majority of state governorships and legislatures.
Now, it is the Dems who are in disarray, who desperately need to regroup under new, responsible leadership. They need to rebuild and expand their base. They need leadership that will unite the party, leadership that will appeal to all the disparate wings of the party, as well as independents, many of whom tend to lean toward the Dems. They need a centrist. With this backdrop, what are the Dems about to do? Exactly the wrong thing. It is likely that they will elect as their next DNC a radical leftwing anti-Semite with deep ties to the radical Muslim community who has long been a supporter of none other than Louis Farrakhan and his Nation of Islam Party. Apparently, Ellison has the backing of leading Dems, such as Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, and the only thing standing in his way is the proviso that he resign his seat in the House.
Most of you probably do not know much about Keith Ellison. He was born on August 4, 1963 in Detroit. He was raised Roman Catholic, but at some point, he converted to Islam. He is from a family of achievers. He has four brothers. One became a doctor; the others, like Keith, are attorneys. Good for them.
Keith entered politics in 2002 when he was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives as a Democrat. He was re-elected in 2004 with 84% of the vote. He was elected to the US House of Representatives in 2006. As one of only two Muslims in Congress he is known as a strong and vociferous advocate of Muslim causes as well as other liberal causes, such as LGBT rights, abortion and gun control. Some, me included, would label his political views as “extreme.” He has publicly defended Farrakhan, stating he is not an anti-Semite. The radical Muslim group, CAIR, has been a strong supporter and campaign contributor. Additionally, he has a reputation for being radically anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. For example, in 2010 he stated that US foreign policy is being “governed” by Israel. Many see this criticism of Israel as code for anti-Semitism as well (much like in the 1950s when Southerners spoke of “states’ rights” as code for segregation).
Ellison has drawn criticism from various sources, not all of them GOP supporters. For example, Alan Dershowitz, renowned attorney and Dem supporter, was quoted as saying “It is hard to imagine a worse candidate. [He] represents the extreme, when the party – if it is to win again – must move to the center…” Also, Haim Saban, a prominent Dem donor, recently speaking at the Brookings Institute’s Saban Forum, stated “If you go back to his positions, his papers, his speeches, the way he has voted, he is clearly an anti-Semite and anti-Israel individual.” These opinions and mine and many others’ are supported by CNN, which recently published a review of his past public statements and positions. Of course, Ellison has issued denials, but one can judge for oneself.
Reasonable people can debate the appropriateness and veracity of Ellison’s opinions and whether or not he has modified or reformed them, but that is not the point. The point is whether or not a politician who holds and espouses those radical beliefs is the right person to be the DNC. Can such a person be a unifier? Should he be the “face” of the Party? As I said above, can he appeal to all the disparate factions of the party as well as to independents, many of whom tend to lean toward the Democratic Party?
I say, no! All that said, if the Dems want to “shoot themselves in the foot” they can be my guest.