‘It has to be the guys in the barbershop, the lady at the diner, the folks who are worried about whether that plant is going to close, they’ve got to be our focus’
It’s a tough time for Democrats in Washington, DC and around the country. But political parties backed into a corner often find new life by making bold moves. And the Democrats may have just found their perfect antidote to Donald Trump in the form of Rep Keith Ellison. The Minnesota Democrat was the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress in American history after the 2006 midterm elections. And on Monday he formally announced his bid to run for head of the Democratic National Committee, the official campaign apparatus of the party that sets the strategy for upcoming elections.
“I am proud to announce my candidacy for Chair of the Democratic National Committee, and if given the opportunity to serve, I will work tirelessly to make the Democratic Party an organization that brings us together and advances an agenda that improves people’s lives,” Ellison said in a statement on Monday.
Ellison is about as close to a sure thing as it gets: he’s already won the backing of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders while earning praise from Elizabeth Warren.
In an interview over the weekend, Ellison said if the party wants to win they need to focus more on the grassroots and less on big money donors and corporate interests.
“I love the donors, and we thank them, but it has to be the guys in the barbershop, the lady at the diner, the folks who are worried about whether that plant is going to close, they’ve got to be our focus,” he told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “That’s how we come back.”
However, he’ll face a challenge from former DNC Chair Howard Dean, who helped revamp the group before the successful 2006 elections that brought Ellison into office.
But if you’re looking for transformational change, it’s hard to imagine someone who presents a bigger contrast to the views of Trump. And history shows that bold moves often pay off for the party out of power.
Back in 2004, people said the Democratic Party was dead. George Bush had just been elected to his second term in the White House and political analysts spoke of a conservative ascendancy that would last a generation or more. But in that same election, a little-known Illinois state senator named Barack Obama completed a come-from-behind campaign that put in the U.S. Senate. Earlier that summer, he’d captured the attention of millions at the Democratic National Convention with a message of hope that would serve as the genesis for his presidential run just two years later.
Ellison is no Obama but he could go a long way toward restoring enthusiasm in the party from the progressive base that was so excited about Bernie Sanders and his dark horse run that ended up coming so close to victory. And he’d be a powerful spokesperson for a party whose top priority will be offering Americans an alternative to the Trump presidency.
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