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The_Phalanx

Keith Ellison Interview

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http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/19/14322998/keith-ellison-dnc-ezra-klein

 

Personal Opinion: This is a pretty long article, so I'm going to break tradition and just post the link. I thought this article would interest Diplo as we've had discussions about Keith Ellison's candidacy for DNC Chair and this article does a decent job outlining what Keith plans to accomplish as chair and better explains his qualifications for the position than whatever we had before hand.

 

Of the contents of the article itself, I think Ellison expressed himself well in showing the deficiencies with the current Democratic election strategy, but I'm worried that he might be taking a far too old school approach towards fixing the current Democratic down ballot failure. I'm sure knocking on people's doors is effective, as he clearly demonstrates by his successes in his district, but he didn't give much as a solution or Democratic analog for Republican institutions such as ALEC or the Koch Brothers. I'm wonder if there are better ways to engage large amounts of people effectively without constantly knocking on their doors and even if there isn't, without a Democratic analog to the Koch Brothers, I feel that funding for a national door-knocking campaign could become an issue. Don't have much to back this up, just spit-balling to get a discussion started.

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The democrat party will not recover until they get off the coasts and find some chap who sympathizes with the working class of middle america. If they double down on identity politics next year then they're screwed for the next 20 years. I live in Minnesota, this Keith guy is not the guy you want. You need a Jim Webb.

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You need a Jim Webb.

Oh, a moderate who will try to reach out to Republicans, because that worked so well for Democrats recently. :rolleyes:

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The democrat party will not recover until they get off the coasts and find some chap who sympathizes with the working class of middle america. If they double down on identity politics next year then they're screwed for the next 20 years. I live in Minnesota, this Keith guy is not the guy you want. You need a Jim Webb.

 

His approach to identity politics is far more nuanced than Clinton's was. Clinton essentially believed that if she appealed to Women. Blacks, and Hispanics by virtue of being a woman, being a Democrat, and not taking over the top disparaging remarks about minorities. Ellison makes it clear that as long as you don't counter the scarcity argument, that people believe they have to protect themselves otherwise they'll be exploited to benefit people who do not deserve to the help, then identity politics will always lose. You'll close your tribe down to people you know and not be willing to expand it to those you don't. But as Ellison points out that there isn't a scarcity, and if you can change the argument from scarcity, you'll have people far more receptive to ensuring equality for all. He makes it clear that you cannot expect someone, because they're a minority, to vote for you, you have to prove to them that you have their best interest at hand.

 

I'd also remind you that the Democrats had a I think 60 year period where they always controlled the US House of Representatives. It's pretty obvious that identity politics did not have a big role in that change, but instead, as Ellison pointed out, was caused by the DNC switching to a Presidency-First strategy.

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I think a good lesson to take away from the election would be that it's about the candidate. Not about policies and not about organizations. Trump's organization was small and mismanaged. Clinton's was large, data-driven and well-funded. But Trump voters showed up where it mattered while Clinton voters didn't. Trump was politically incorrect, saying things about women and Hispanics that conventional wisdom said would've been the death knell of any campaign, yet he won a majority of white women and did better among Hispanics than Romney. The fact that Trump is sleazy, big business personified who is only wealthy because he inherited money and routinely ripped people off did absolutely nothing to stop him from successfully campaigning on a promise to "drain the swamp".

 

At the end of the day, people simply want a candidate to get excited about. People hate Trump, but many also love him. There are some Clinton lovers, sure, but most people only liked her on an intellectual level. There was no emotional connection. Trump had massive rallies, while Clinton had clinical, robotic appearances.

 

Previously I did not think someone like Sanders would've been viable in a general election, but now I believe he would be. Because no one cares about policy. If people didn't care about Trump being a thrice-married, adulterous sexual assaulter who's bigoted towards Muslims and Hispanics, the "socialist" label is nothing by comparison. Sanders got people excited like how Trump did. People didn't care about gaffes or political incorrectness with Trump because they liked him enough for it to not matter. He's loved enough to in essence be pre-forgiven for any transgression, like a parent's unconditional love to their child even if they're a lowlife. It's only when people don't like you that gaffes become deadly. Romney didn't get people excited and the "scandals" that rocked his campaign are laughable compared to what Trump survived on a daily basis.

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I'm sure knocking on people's doors is effective, as he clearly demonstrates by his successes in his district, but he didn't give much as a solution or Democratic analog for Republican institutions such as ALEC or the Koch Brothers. I'm wonder if there are better ways to engage large amounts of people effectively without constantly knocking on their doors and even if there isn't, without a Democratic analog to the Koch Brothers, I feel that funding for a national door-knocking campaign could become an issue. Don't have much to back this up, just spit-balling to get a discussion started.

 

The "Koch brothers" have been famously used as a boogeyman of the left, and I don't think its warranted. Kochs have supported these initiatives:

  1. Decriminalize drugs
  2. Legalize gay marriage
  3. Repeal the Patriot Act
  4. End the police state
  5. Cut defense spending

The Kochs are primarily libertarians, and they are issue voters/supporters, not party cheerleaders. Yes they tend to side with conservatives more than liberals as they are more ideologically aligned, but the whole 'demonize the Kochs' strategy of the democrats has not helped them, and prevented them from building bridges with the Kochs even when they distanced themselves from Trump.

 

When it comes to Ellison, this is his rapsheet:

 

“The man poised to head the Democratic Party was a spokesman for the Nation of Islam well into his 30’s who publicly spewed anti-Semitism and later in life as a Congressional candidate knowingly accepted $50,000 in campaign contributions given and raised by Islamic radicals who openly supported Islamic terrorism and were leaders of front groups for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.” It’s worth noting that during the period in which Ellison defended the Nation of Islam, spokespeople were openly Jew-hating – in 1995, Ellison led a rally featuring Khalid Abdul Mohammed, who proceeded to explain, “if words were swords, the chests of Jews, gays and whites would be pierced.” Ellison also defended Louis Farrakhan, a brutal anti-Semite, as “not a racist…not an anti-Semite.” At the time, Ellison identified himself as Keith X Ellison."

 

Furthermore:

 

In 2007, Ellison openly compared 9/11 to the Reichstag fire, suggested that it benefitted Jews, and said that the event was an excuse to target Muslims. Ellison also voted against Iron Dome funding to protect Israel from rocket attack, and pushed for Israel to relieve its blockade against the terrorist group Hamas. (He wrote in the Washington Post, “As I have talked with ordinary Gazans, I have not encountered anyone representing Hamas.” Hamas runs the Gaza Strip.)

 

I'm quite disappointed in 'journalist' Ezra Klein for not asking one question related to Ellison's Muslim faith, his support of the Nation of Islam in his past, his receiving of support from Islamist MB groups, or his perceived anti-semitism and his association with anti-semites. I'm honestly tired of Democrats empowering authoritarians with political power in my community and shafting the reformers like Hirsi Ali and Nawaz.

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I'll give you that those would have been good questions if only to allow Ellison to reiterate denunciation of the Nation of Islam, however, as I said on Discord, I'll argue that those questions were out of the scope of the interview. The point of the interview was to allow Ellison to make the case as to why he is the strongest candidate for DNC Chair. In our previous discussions about Ellison for DNC Chair, you argument against him was that he was a Muslim with possible ties to the Nation of Islam and that he neither had the experience nor the expertise to identify and fix the problems plaguing the current DNC political strategies.

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I'll give you that those would have been good questions if only to allow Ellison to reiterate denunciation of the Nation of Islam, however, as I said on Discord, I'll argue that those questions were out of the scope of the interview. The point of the interview was to allow Ellison to make the case as to why he is the strongest candidate for DNC Chair. In our previous discussions about Ellison for DNC Chair, you argument against him was that he was a Muslim with possible ties to the Nation of Islam and that he neither had the experience nor the expertise to identify and fix the problems plaguing the current DNC political strategies.

 

In the interview he gives himself too much credit. He's a black democrat running in a district which is 70% black. I don't mean to condescend, as everyone is free to vote for whomever they want, but black voters are hardly the type to deviate from voting for black candidates, with 90%+ voting for Obama in both presidential elections.

 

He also justifies his identity politics by arguing that the right does it too, and bases his argument on Reagan's visit to Philadelphia. This is a common myth that Reagan gave a speech on State's rights in an area where the KKK was active to dog-whistle white racists. He didn't give his speech in this area, but rather at an annual fair in a town 7 miles away. Reagan even hit Carter for catering to white supremacists in Alabama and Carter responded by arguing that Reagan was just another non-southerner who didn't understand the South. The south was starting to open up to Republicans as it was becoming more Republican and less Democratic. Carter had infact carried the entire south just 4 years before against Ford in 1976.

 

The Democrats won the culture war, but lost independents and moderates at the ballot box. Keith Ellison isn't the right person to bring those voters back, and he may actually do more harm than good with his Islamist leanings and his views on identity politics. Trump just took a bite on a huge hunk of the democratic platform with TPP and protectionism and Democrats aren't going to win by continuing to fight culture wars that make them look more and more like extremists everyday.

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It's not a question of whether or not he's black and his district is black, its a question of turnout. I see no reason to believe that Democrats have somehow lost moderates and independents; last I look Trump was at 60mil votes to Clinton's 63mil votes, which puts Trump at the same area that McCain and Romney were when they faced off against Obama. If Democrats had somehow so massively alienated moderates and independents, wouldn't Trump have won the popular vote? Wouldn't he at least gained a significant increase in votes compared to McCain and Romney?

 

I think he's correct in the way he phrases the problem with the current DNC; Democrats may have won the culture war, but they've lost the spin war. There's too many people that are not actively engaged by representatives of the Democratic party, people who are inundated by the Republican message and Republican narrative that they can no longer reconcile the differences between Republican spin and truth because they lack the necessary regular interaction with the Democratic party. The amount of people who voted for Trump without knowing that Obamacare and the ACA are the same thing is astounding.

 

So, I'll ask again, explain to me whats wrong with his strategic plans to increase the effectiveness of the DNC that he would put into play as DNC Chair?

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So, I'll ask again, explain to me whats wrong with his strategic plans to increase the effectiveness of the DNC that he would put into play as DNC Chair?

 

His strategy on increasing the effectiveness of the DNC and strategy during elections is predicated on his experience running for the 5th district which is based on his identity as a black man and his constituents who are majority black. This is the path that Hillary took and it is the path towards losing elections. Doubling down on identity won't yield more results because minority voters are an incredibly unreliable voting block, and its rare for candidates, both presidential and congressional, to have the star power, charisma and pull that Obama had.

 

White voters tend to be issue voters which means a DNC chair who can speak to issues and doesn't have the stigma, warranted or unwarranted, of being an Islamist would probably do a better job. DNC's primary job over the next election cycles will be to try and win back the disenfranchised working class whites that Trump won and Hillary lost.

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Previously I did not think someone like Sanders would've been viable in a general election, but now I believe he would be. Because no one cares about policy.

I respectfully disagree.

 

Or rather, I agree with your assessment that excitement is a key factor behind a candidate, but disagree when you claim policy is irrelevant to that factor. I take personal beef with this because it's honestly the same mistake the Clinton campaign made. She invested heavily in national media, in pop culture stars endorsing her, in ramping up platitudes and trying to drum up excitement on the basis that her "dumb" voter base doesn't care about policy and just wants to be entertained. Absolutely none of it stuck, not simply because her tone was off or she wasn't appealing to a primal urge properly, but because her entire platform was disingenuous and everybody knew it.

Policy, or more accurately, sincerity was deeply embedded in this election cycle. Kids who knew nothing about politics a few years ago were openly discussing the implications of her support of the iraq war. News of her adopting a "more progressive" platform didn't land well, because A: it was an olive branch extended too late, too short and with too few olives, and B: Nobody can trust Hillary Clinton to deliver on a promise.

Does the average voter know or think about the specifics of a four-year plan to encourage prune production in X county? No. Does the average voter know exactly what they're looking for in terms of national tax policy beyond "don't raise mine"? Probably not. But if anyone, like the cocktail elites cocooned in bubble-wrap behind Clinton's "I'm with her" narcissist campaign, believes the American voter doesn't care about their own bottom line and just needs distractions like children, their electoral chances go down the drain.

 

Case in point:

Trump was politically incorrect, saying things about women and Hispanics that conventional wisdom said would've been the death knell of any campaign, yet he won a majority of white women

Which should be telling you the Clinton prediction that Trump being a big, meanie poo-poo head would damage his chances with women voters was nonsense. White middle-class women, particularly moms & wives who manage their household's resources, are some of the most policy-oriented voters in the country. They take a hard look at candidates and turn out in droves for the one they think will be easier on their calculations at the kitchen table. Trump, fraud or not, spoke about the economy and jobs and how awful this Obama's been with his expensive healthcare and overall yuckiness. Clinton... had a vagina. And reminded people at every opportunity. And suggested her opponent was sexist. That's about it.

 

That shit doesn't keep the lights on in winter.

 

 

Also, about the topic, I can say this much

I'll take Keith Ellison any day over that Thin Man weasel Perez.

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His strategy on increasing the effectiveness of the DNC and strategy during elections is predicated on his experience running for the 5th district which is based on his identity as a black man and his constituents who are majority black. This is the path that Hillary took and it is the path towards losing elections. Doubling down on identity won't yield more results because minority voters are an incredibly unreliable voting block, and its rare for candidates, both presidential and congressional, to have the star power, charisma and pull that Obama had.

 

White voters tend to be issue voters which means a DNC chair who can speak to issues and doesn't have the stigma, warranted or unwarranted, of being an Islamist would probably do a better job. DNC's primary job over the next election cycles will be to try and win back the disenfranchised working class whites that Trump won and Hillary lost.

 

You claim that the district is 70% Black. I'm gonna have to ask for a citation, because double checking that I'm finding that the district is actually 64% White, 18% Black, 9% Hispanic, 5% Asian, and 4% Other. It doesn't fit the national ethnicity rates perfectly, but its pretty damn close, and more importantly it shows that he cannot be winning, or even increasing voter turnout, by simply relying on Black or even Minority voters alone.

 

Furthermore, I think its self-evident from what he had to say about Identity Politics that he's not interested in doubling down on it -- he uses Identity Politics as a vehicle to show how exclusivity makes labor more susceptible to corporate manipulations. Every time Identity Politics comes up, Ellison quickly pivots to how Identity Politics is useful to promote unity but that the end goal is economic inclusivity. Clinton's stance on Identity Politics was Identity Politics for Identity Politics' sake; vote for me because I'm a woman and this would be a big win for women everywhere. Clinton continues to espouse these same sentiments even now, after she lost. Nowhere does Ellison throw a race or religion card in the interview; he shows no interest in using those identities to promote himself, but instead focuses on how inclusivity can help fight economic disparity. I said earlier, its far more nuanced than the typical usage of Identity Politics.

 

I maintain that you've let yourself get far too caught up in the fact that he's Black and Muslim.

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You claim that the district is 70% Black. I'm gonna have to ask for a citation, because double checking that I'm finding that the district is actually 64% White, 18% Black, 9% Hispanic, 5% Asian, and 4% Other. It doesn't fit the national ethnicity rates perfectly, but its pretty damn close, and more importantly it shows that he cannot be winning, or even increasing voter turnout, by simply relying on Black or even Minority voters alone.

 

Furthermore, I think its self-evident from what he had to say about Identity Politics that he's not interested in doubling down on it -- he uses Identity Politics as a vehicle to show how exclusivity makes labor more susceptible to corporate manipulations. Every time Identity Politics comes up, Ellison quickly pivots to how Identity Politics is useful to promote unity but that the end goal is economic inclusivity. Clinton's stance on Identity Politics was Identity Politics for Identity Politics' sake; vote for me because I'm a woman and this would be a big win for women everywhere. Clinton continues to espouse these same sentiments even now, after she lost. Nowhere does Ellison throw a race or religion card in the interview; he shows no interest in using those identities to promote himself, but instead focuses on how inclusivity can help fight economic disparity. I said earlier, its far more nuanced than the typical usage of Identity Politics.

 

I maintain that you've let yourself get far too caught up in the fact that he's Black and Muslim.

 

Well fuck this is embarassing. I must've misread the census and mistook the white pop percentage for black.

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I'll give you the district is probably as blue as it gets -- the Cook Index has it at +22 -- but that in turn can be used to argue that in that case its even more impressive that he increased turnout because it also means facing a lot of voter apathy.

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