Any old blue just won’t do for Rep. Keith Ellison.
Ellison, who is the co-chair of the Democratic National Committee and who represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, said his party is reaching out to once forgotten voters and welcoming in a new breed of Democrat. He said the old way of doing things has proven not to work and now Democrats are taking their message to the streets.
“For the past 10 to 12 years our party has been focused on presidential races. Since 2008 Democrats have lost hundreds of elected state seats. There are only seven Democratic secretaries of state,” said Ellison, during a May 1 interview with Al McFarlane on “Conversations with Al McFarlane, which aired on 90.3 FM KFAI. “We’ve got to work up and down the ballot. Since 2016 we’ve flipped 40 state seats and we’ve got more to come.”
Ellison said the DNC approach had become too impersonal and many were left out of the calculation altogether.
“We as a nation had been suffering from low voter turnout and the previous thought (at the DNC) was to focus on areas with high voter turnout and get them to vote for our candidate. (Now) we’re knocking on doors and rebuilding relationships,” said Ellison.
Some of the relationships Ellison said the DNC is rebuilding is with ethnic media. He said such relationships are key in reaching untapped voters.
“When people talk about fake news they don’t say that about Insight News and other ethnic press because these outlets were built on a promise of trust,” said Ellison.
The former chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Ellison said the DNC hears the call being shouted by many in the party – “Any old blue just won’t do.”
“I absolutely agree; any blue won’t do,” said Ellison in an interview following his radio segment. “We need people who will stand for true Democratic values and stand for all Americans. We need people who will come in and fight.”
One of the fights Ellison is waging is working to extend protections for Liberians living in the U.S. In March President Donald Trump ordered an end to special legal status to thousands of Liberians – many of whom reside in Minnesota, which is home to the largest Liberian population in the U.S. Ellison co-sponsored legislation to extend protections to Liberians, as well as those from Sierra Leone and Guinea, but he said with Republicans in charge he is not hopeful the bill will get much traction.
“We need to elect new people (in the House). Republicans are not moving on anything dealing with immigration,” said Ellison. “We need new people in office.”
Ellison said the president’s stance – and much of the Republican Party stance – on immigration is backwards.
“The idea of kicking out DACA youth; it makes no sense. So, these are kids who trained and educated in our schools with our (tax) dollars, and then we say, ‘get out’ … that’s flawed thinking,” said Ellison. “And the people who come here are coming for a better life … they’re coming to contribute; they’re coming to work. The idea that immigration is a bad thing is ludicrous.”
“Conversations with Al McFarlane” airs Tuesdays from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. on KFAI and stream on www.kfai.org.