Donald Trump ran a campaign that embraced xenophobia, racial stereotypes and fear. Despite losing the popular vote, he will be the next President of The United States.
Democrats not only lost the White House, they also failed to regain control of either chamber of Congress.
How does a largely powerless political party respond to President Trump? The answer starts with the selection of a new chair of the Democratic Party.
Momentum is swinging toward Keith Ellison, a capable and energetic Congressman who represents a district in Minnesota. Ellison is co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and was one of the few members of Congress to support Bernie Sanders during the primary.
What would Senator Paul Wellstone say about where we go from here?
Let's get to work. pic.twitter.com/4QXpgs6leA
— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) November 11, 2016
A wide range of figures in the Democratic Party, from Chuck Schumer, the incoming Senate Minority Leader to Elizabeth Warren have embraced Ellison for the role.
Jonathon Weisman, the Deputy Washington Editor of the New York Times, however, thinks that Ellison is a poor choice because he is black and Muslim.
Defeated Dems could've tapped Rust Belt populist to head party. Instead, black, Muslim progressive from Minneapolis? https://t.co/VLfMcEtMka
— Jonathan Weisman (@jonathanweisman) November 11, 2016
Ellison clearly qualifies as a populist, so the primary objection appears to be his race and religion.
One potential response to the bigotry that fueled Trump’s rise is to mimic it. Ellison’s race, religion and temperament make him a poor choice to pander to people’s worst instincts.
If, however, the right response to Trump is to stand up to bigotry and division, Ellison makes more sense.
It’s far from certain that a white, Christian, “Rust Belt populist,” could appeal more effectively than Trump to his base. But even if that strategy could work, is it morally defensible?
Should racial and religious minorities be excluded from positions of power? The fact that an editor at the most respected and prominent newspaper is willing to answer that question in the affirmative is a clear demonstration of the dangers of a Trump presidency.
It’s unclear why the Deputy Washington Editor of the New York Times is playing political strategist for the Democratic Party. But if he must, he should probably avoid endorsing explicitly racist and xenophobic strategies.
Other potential candidates for the job include former Vermont Governor and DNC chair Howard Dean and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.