To their Advent prayer list, Republicans should ask that Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) is elected the Democratic National Committee’s chairman early next year.
There are two reasons. The first is that Mr. Ellison’s selection would mean the Democratic Party would be led by a left-winger’s left-winger, handing an early assist to the GOP and the Trump administration for the 2018 midterms.
After cataloging every vote cast by every congressman, the nonpartisan National Journal ranks the five-term Minnesota Democrat as among the House’s most left-wing members during his 10 years in Congress, and tied for the most liberal congressman in 2013 , 2011and 2008.
That’s why he went all-out for Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary. In return Mr. Ellison earned the backing of the avowed “democratic socialist,” as well as support from Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Harry Reid.
But this still leaves Mr. Ellison with a fundamental problem. This year’s exit polls found 28% of voters wanted the next president to continue Barack Obama’s policies while 47% wanted the new president to be more conservative. Only 17% said he should be more liberal. Mr. Ellison stands as the vanguard of that 17%, hardly the place to launch a decimated Democratic Party to political recovery.
He is unlikely to emphasize recruiting candidates who mirror the values of the flyover states that Democrats have been losing from the top of the ballot to the bottom. When then-Rep. Rahm Emmanuel led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006, he knew his party could not regain the House majority unless it nominated candidates who could win moderate and even mildly conservative districts. So he refused to insist on ideological purity, even on issues like abortion and guns that are articles of faith to the Democratic left. But Keith Ellison is no Rahm Emmanuel.
Nor is Mr. Ellison likely to craft a message that attracts middle-class voters in the political center. Instinctively, he’d rather appeal to avid readers of the Nation and Huffington Post.
Then there’s Mr. Ellison’s praise as a young man for the poisonous Nation of Islam leaderLouis Farrakhan. In a Nov. 30 interview with NPR, Mr. Ellison dismissed criticism of his support for Mr. Farrakhan as a “smear,” while acknowledging “at the time I didn’t pay close enough scrutiny to some of the other things he was saying.”
Here’s the problem with his explanation: Mr. Ellison defended the Nation of Islam founder for a decade, even calling him in a 1997 statement before the Minnesota Initiative Against Racism “a tireless public servant of Black people.” Ten years is a long time for Mr. Ellison to fail to grasp he was praising a bigot and anti-Semite.
This leaves the impression Mr. Ellison is not only radical but also duplicitous, especially after a transcript of a 2010 fundraising speech surfaced in which he said that while the U.S. should “be friends with Israel,” the U.S. “can’t allow another country to treat us like we’re their ATM.” He also complained that America’s Middle East policy “is governed by what is good or bad through a country of seven million people.”
Given all this, Mr. Ellison’s selection would further strain the Democratic Party’s relationship with the Jewish community, one of the party’s most loyal constituencies.
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