Rep. Keith Ellison’s Bid for DNC Chair; It’s About Progressives

Looking at right-leaning media one would get the impression the contest for the next chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is about identity politics, showcasing the Democratic Party’s diversity, or getting some fresh new blood. All are wrong.

It’s a battle between progressives and liberal Democrats for control of the DNC. Progressives are angry the DNC played favorites in the 2016 presidential primary, tipping the scales in favor of Hillary, while “sabotag[ing] the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, bully[ing] and belittling his supporters,” according to the Huffington Post.

Progressives are backing Rep. Keith Ellison because he’s a one of their own. Ellison was an early supporter of Bernie Sanders in the primary and, since 2011, has been co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the largest Democratic membership organization in Congress, with 70 members

The Daily Kos strongly supports Ellison. “If progressives are ever going to claim ascendancy in the Democratic Party (both so we can advance good policy and start winning elections again),” the Daily Kos asserted, “we need to rally behind Ellison and make sure he is elected Chair.”

Progressives have long had an eye on the DNC. In the late 1970s, socialist/progressive strategists urged activists to infiltrate the DNC, arguing it was their best hope to achieve real political power. Once inside the organization they world operate as a party-within-a-party, gradually shifting its agenda to the left and, over time, transform America.

Activists eagerly implemented the plot, step-by-step expanding their reach into the DNC, while, at the same time, building a nationwide grassroots organization. As a measure of their success, progressives now dominate many local and state jurisdictions. And in 2008, with the election of Barack Obama, a progressive captured the White House.


Community Organizing

Progressives now want to take control of the DNC, at which time the Democratic Party will effectively become the Progressive Party. If successful, progressives will have the ability to steer the DNC’s substantial resources to expand the progressive infrastructure in America. As explained by Ellison, if he’s named chairman, “the main thing we have to do is organize the grassroots. Organize, organize, organize.”

By organize, progressives mean indoctrinate and train more progressives, mount more attacks on the right, expand messaging, boost support for progressive candidates, increase voter registration, enhance grassroots leadership, and more.

It’s through community organizing that progressives have gained political power. It’s the key strategy socialists/progressives first implemented in the 1983 Chicago mayoral election. Progressive activists working with black churches and other minority organizations registered more than 100,000 new voters. Together with labor, the progressive voters made possible the election of Harold Washington, the city’s first black mayor.

The strategy was replicated across the US to elect other progressives. Barack Obama discussed the importance of the strategy in an interview in 2003: “As you combine a strong African American base with progressive white and Latino voters,” he said, “I think it is a recipe for success in the primary and in the general election.”1

Obama employed the strategy in 2008 and Ellison, if elected DNC chair, will further strengthen grassroots organizing to bring increased success for progressives in future elections.

1) “Fitzgerald’s Backing Out, Pushes Obama In Front,” Chicago Defender, April 16, 2003.




What Progressives Are Saying


“The Democratic leadership and DNC members have a choice, one that will indicate the direction in which the party will move in the coming months, even years. And, once more, the choice will likely be between a candidate with deep ties to corporate America [ie Hillary wing of the Democratic Party] and a genuine populist with an ambitious, progressive vision for the future.”


“Should the Democrats, in their search for a ‘progressive who gets things done,’ tap Keith Ellison for leadership, they, like the CPC [Congressional Progressive Caucus] before them, would find a man uniquely skilled to include and engage the progressive grassroots and perhaps create a party with active support of the people, representative of the value Democrats purport to exemplify.”