Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

Keith Ellison as DNC Chair: Another High Place, Another Empty Black Face

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, Democratic party honchos are scrambling to reassure their funders and to shore up the careers of Democratic elected officials who serve those funders. They must justify and retain whatever hold they still have on the millions of nominal Democratic voters who actually have no voice whatsoever in what their party stands for.

At bottom, the two capitalist parties are owned by the same class of elite one percenter funders but with different voting bases At least one US party is always the self-declared White Man’s Party. Since the late sixties Republicans have reserved that slot for themselves, leaving Democrats to claim the allegiance of racial minorities and some other groups. The different voting bases of the two parties mean they have different campaign styles, but when the campaigns are over they’re both as Barack Obama affirmed, on the same team. Both parties deliver the mandate of their constituencies to their common funders, Big Ag, Big Oil, Big Insurance, Big Pharma, Big Real Estate, the military contractors and Wall Street.

After the departures of Debbie Wasserman-Schulz and Donna Brazile, both deeply implicated in the sabotaging of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton’s loss, Democrats need a new face at the head of the Democratic National Committee, the national party’s executive body. Ideally it should be someone who reassures the funders and can help rally the base voters. The leading contender is Keith Ellison, just elected to his sixth term in Congress from Minneapolis.

Keith Ellison seems a good fit. He was the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and current co-chair of the large and virtually impotent House Progressive Caucus. He was an early endorser of Bernie Sanders who did his duty trying to lead leftward strays back into Hillary’s big tent. In a decade on the House Financial Services Committee, Ellison managed not to deeply offend the banksters who flooded the market with predatory housing and student loans, or the payday lenders and credit card racketeers, and he didn’t embarrass or insult the colleagues who openly shill for them. In that target rich environment Ellison managed not just to keep from hitting anything, but not even to take aim.

By contrast, Senator Elizabeth Warren in 2014 made headlines when she grilled Ellison's former Congressional Black Caucus colleague Mel Watt, on why the agency he heads, despite a clear mandate from Congress to reduce the principals on potentially millions of unpayable predatory home loans, refused to reduce the principal on a single one. Three years later the news is that the agency may reduce principal on a mere 3,100 home loans at most. We’re still waiting to hear from Ellison and the other eight black Democrats on the committee on this failure.

But Ellison is black. He’s the first Muslim elected to Congress, he’s smart enough and telegenic. He votes infallibly to support the apartheid regime in Israel, and he says if it were up to him there’d have been a no-fly zone (and possible shooting war with the Russians) a long time ago.

Hillary’s indispensable firewall was supposed to be the black vote, for which she needed to do little else than mumble about “black lives mattering” and pose occasionally with the mothers of some of those murdered by police. Democratic shot callers seem to still believe that all they need is another empty black face in a high place. They won’t get another First Black President. It was Hillary’s turn and that didn’t work out. Now it’s Keith Ellison’s another empty black face in a very high place.

For Black Agenda Radio I’m Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and co-chair of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via email at bruce.dixon(at)


Direct download: 2061123-bd-keith-ellison-dnc.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:18pm EDT