MINNEAPOLIS — The success of the Keith Ellison congressional campaign here was noteworthy from several perspectives.
First, Ellison, who is African American, put together a broad coalition consisting of many ethnic groups — Jews, Arab Americans, Muslims, African Americans, Latinos, Asians and whites — as well as trade unionists and peace activists. He engaged in considerable struggle to maintain such a coalition, particularly with the diverging positions of the large peace and antiwar groups in the Twin Cities.
The fact that Ellison met with progressives in an attempt to hammer out differences and maintain a working relationship augurs well for how he will handle disputes and disagreements once in office.
Second, this election clearly informed the ruling class that the electorate does not support the current policy of the Bush administration in Iraq. Neither does the electorate support the Bush administration’s tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of the working class. Finally, the electorate informed the ruling class in this election that there will be no privatization of Social Security.
What people do want is health care for all, an increase in the minimum wage, and an end to U.S. imperialism abroad.
Keith Ellison spoke to the needs of a broad group of people and that is why he was elected. Not only is Ellison progressive on domestic issues, but his words and deeds clearly set forth his principles in the international arena: he will not sanction torture and he will support the constitutional rights of all.
Despite divisions in the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, Ellison’s campaign mobilized the grassroots in a way reminiscent of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone. Ellison showed respect and tolerance for differences among his various constituencies, while maintaining his own integrity. He exhibited passion for the underdog and the oppressed, while maintaining a sober, reflective demeanor.
Although much has been written about Ellison’s Muslim religion, we can expect that he will fight for a secular society while in Congress, a society where no single religious creed is imposed upon the populace. We can expect that he will speak to the needs of working families and that he will stand on the side of those who need the protection of government the most, regardless of race, creed or national origin.