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Congressman Keith Ellison, candidate of progressive Democrats and many regressive Democrats for chair of the Democratic National Committee eagerly urged the illegal and disastrous violent overthrow of the government of Libya in 2011, which he celebrated as a success despite what it meant for the rule of law, despite all the death and suffering, despite the predictable instability and weapons proliferation to follow.
Ellison moved on to pushing, and using his perch as co-chair of the Progressive Caucus to push, for a similar war on Syria. For years now he has advocated for the illegal and murderous creation of no fly zones and “safe zones” — what Hillary Clinton admitted only to Goldman Sachs would require that you “kill a lot of Syrians.” Ellison was an early backer of bombing Syria in 2013. He met with peace activists but rejected their appeal.
Back in 2007, before Ellison’s leadership, the Congressional Progressive Caucus had helped organize 90 Congress members to commit to voting against war funding. Most of them turned around and voted for war funding. That ridiculous disappointment was a high point for the CPC.
Since then, the CPC’s commitments — such as to vote against corporate healthcare — have hardly been taken seriously, and so it’s hardly been news when most members have gone back on their commitments.
But in recent years, the CPC has shifted away from even pretending to take a stand on things, and instead moved toward issuing statements full of non-committal rhetoric. Some began referring to it as the Congressional Progressive Statement Caucus.
Yet even that standard must be looked back to with nostalgia when it comes to Co-Chair Ellison’s rhetoric on war. He promotes misinformation about protecting innocent people in Libya and Syria and uses those claims to justify war making. This is exactly what the war makers were looking for in funding Hillary Clinton for President. Should the Democratic National Committee now give it to them in the form of Ellison as Chair?
Of course there are differences between Clinton and Ellison. He hasn’t been around long enough to do nearly as much damage, and he’s legitimately better than Clinton in many ways. He introduced legislation in the Minnesota State Legislature to urge the impeachment of George W. Bush. He dropped support for that once elected to Congress but did sign onto impeaching Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales. He has voted against war funding, more than once. He has asked Obama to end the war on Afghanistan. He was against rewriting laws with signing statements, at least while Bush was president. It’s conceivable that he no longer, post-Bernie, throws a fit if called a socialist. And on domestic issues there’s no comparison: Ellison is excellent by Democratic standards.
But is that good enough? Does empowering someone who is a Muslim erase all concern over bombing Muslims and turning their nations into hell?
This is the best the Democrats have, we’re told. But putting an active member of Congress into another fulltime job is not ideal. And the Democrats have unemployed figures like war-advocate Howard Dean crawling out into the spotlights.
Who would I propose instead? The first name that comes to mind (and I have not discussed this with him, it’s possible he has no interest, and he certainly wouldn’t sanction my criticizing of Ellison) is Dennis Kucinich. You want change? Hope even? Try him.