Democrats Should Reject Keith Ellison for DNC Chair

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights Subcommittee December 9, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights Subcommittee December 9, 2014 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty Images

The battle for the soul of the Democratic Party is raging. And we are both heartbroken and terrified that the party may be hijacked by the most radical elements within it.

Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota is the front-runner to take over the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee (DNC.)  He is a left-wing extremist whose positions will alienate centrist Democrats who are having more and more trouble identifying with a party that has more in common with Louis Farrakhan than Harry Truman.

In fact, Mr. Ellison was a political ally of Louis Farrakhan, the long-time leader of the Nation of Islam. Farrakhan is not a footnote in American political history. Recently he visited Iran for a 35th anniversary of the Islamic revolution. While there, Farrakhan berated the United States, refused to criticize Iran’s human rights violations, and appeared as the special guest of the Iranian president at a celebration re-enacting Iran’s detention of 10 American sailors in the Persian Gulf.

This is not guilt-by-association. Congressman Ellison’s recent pronouncements about Israel and its “control” of U.S. foreign policy reflect an anti-Israel – if not anti-Semitic – bias that is reprehensible. Mr. Ellison was one of only 8 members of Congress who refused to vote to help Israel fund its Iron Dome anti-missile program that was critical in protecting civilians from the rocket barrage launched by Hamas in 2007 and 2008.  In 2009 Ellison was one of only two dozen Congressmen to vote “present” rather than vote for a non-binding resolution “recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from, reaffirming the United States’ strong support for Israel, and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.”

Mr. Ellison has repeatedly tried to deny his past.  Even when confronted with the release of audio several weeks ago by the Project on Terrorism, the Congressman claimed that “the audio released was selectively edited and taken out of context.”

Mr. Ellison’s complaints were untrue, and his dissembling is cause for serious concerns about his character.

Our opposition to the Ellison candidacy is not based on his statements about Israel alone – though that would certainly be enough. Mr. Ellison was a supporter of Bernie Sanders during the presidential primaries, and his politics are as far left as the Democratic party can go. He once called for Dick Cheney’s impeachment and compared George W. Bush to Hitler. Although he has a fax line in his office, his website says they will not respond to faxes “for environmental reasons.”

One of Mr. Ellison’s supporters for the DNC position is Symone Sanders, a former spokeswoman for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. Recently, on CNN, she dismissed the idea of Howard Dean returning as DNC Chairman, commenting, “We don’t need white people leading the Democratic Party right now.”

We believe that the Democratic party is better served – as are the people who used to proudly call themselves Democrats – by a more reasonable approach. Keith Ellison is not the person to return pride, common sense, or victory back to the party of FDR and JFK. Democrats Should Reject Keith Ellison for DNC Chair