Keith Ellison needs to be DNC chair, plain and simple. Ellison proved his organizing chops and increased turnout in his district, in a time where it flat lined nationally. Not only is he qualified, but he represents a wing of the party that needs the Democratic establishment to step aside and give them a chance to give their theory of politics a fair shake. Bernie Sanders represented a more populist approach that Keith Ellison embodies with his on the ground style of organizing and his 50 state plan.
Ellison hit the trail for DNC chair with gusto, straightaway he began organizing and meeting with party members all across the country. Bernie Sanders endorsed him shortly thereafter and it wasn’t too long until Tom Perez threw his hat in the ring. This isn’t about Tom Perez or relitigating the Bernie Sanders vs. Hillary Clinton primary divide. It’s not even about Keith Ellison and Tom Perez being wildly different people with radically different ideals, by all accounts Tom Perez is a fairly progressive guy. It’s about symbolism and letting people who were stifled have a truly meaningful say in the party going forward.
A lot of the people the Keith Ellison or Bernie Sanders style of politics appeals to are people who are already skeptical of the Democratic Party to begin with. Democrats can not ignore that.
This wing of the party represents millions of passionate people who are looking for a vehicle of meaningful change. That vehicle doesn’t have to be the Democratic Party and some of them would prefer if it wasn’t, but as long as those voters exist and there is an olive branch to give them, the Democratic Party needs to take that very seriously. Keith Ellison is the closest thing to an embodiment of that movement, especially in the current race for the DNC and the only thing some diehards will accept going forward.
This isn’t about Tom Perez being unqualified, it’s proving to a massive group of disenchanted voters that their voices and efforts actually matter. It’s proving to these people that meaningful change is possible, it’s loud, it’s messy, it’s slower than some people feel comfortable with, but it’s possible. Times are tough so they might not all disappear if Keith Ellison isn’t head of the DNC, but some chunk of them will, never to return. In a time with record low voter participation and record high cynicism, that must be stopped at all costs.
Keith Ellison is a great first step and has proven qualified for the task at hand.