On Saturday morning, a Q&A brunch with Keith Ellison (MN-05) was held at my apartment building in Minneapolis. I had never gone to a function like this before, a function with a politician speaking to a group. There was only 25-30 people there and it was a crowd friendly to Keith. Prior to this, I had seen him speak on TV, and radio, and read things he has written. He already has had my vote, and is going to get it this year. I went to see how he is in person, and what he has to say in this setting. I am even more impressed with him, and what he had to say reassured me that my vote for him is a good one.
I will start by saying that I don't have exact quotes and, of course, a lot of this is my feeling about what he was saying. I didn't record or take notes, so it all based on memory. Some times my memory is not that fantastic. This is a little disjointed because I am writing over a couple of days due to time.
He began by speaking about the Pledge of Allegiance, which at first worried me, but that worry soon changed to relief and happiness at why he was referencing the Pledge. He went through the Pledge and focused on the last part, "...with Liberty and Justice for All" and how that portion of the Pledge is relevant to the two Constitutional Amendments on the ballot in MN this November. One is an Amendment that bans gay marriage and the other is a voter ID requirement. He made that point that both of these Amendments are unnecessary and do more to thwart "Liberty and Justice for All" than to provide any good for people. The points he made regarding why these two ballot initatives should not pass were eloquint and to the point, and I completely agree with him. The Amendments are terrible and should not even be up for debate, much less a vote.
One of the most interesting things he discussed was that his son had just joined the Army and was sworn in earlier that week. He discussed why getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan was so important, and why we should never have gone into either one of them, and why we should avoid going to war with Iran. He believes in diplomacy first and that most problems can, and should be solved, by talking with people. Amen to that.
He confirmed and addressed the Republicans relentless blocking of legislation and thier refusal to work with Democrats on anything. He confirmed what I had heard on a number of occasions, they work on legislation with Democrats, and then block or vote against the legislation anyway, just to make the other party look bad. He also expressed his disappoint with Obama in dealing with Republicans. He thought that Obama's willingness to bend over backwards to work with Republicans when all they do is block and blame him, and other Democrats, is frustrating. He seemed to feel that Obama needed to be much stronger and stand up to the Republicans.
He spoke about taxes, jobs, education, and the environment. All of his positions are very left of center, and very on point, in my opinion, and very good for this country.
He spoke a little bit about the issues in the House, things dealing with the Tea Party, Boehner, and Bachmann's craziness (mostly with regards to her whole Muslim Brotherhood fearmongering). He discussed how all these things are a distraction to getting things done that move the country forward.
He answered some questions and went into great detail with his answers. He spoke for over an hour, and I probably could have continued to listen to him longer. He is an excellent speaker.
I think what delighted me the most about listening to him speak, was to find out that he is very Progressive, more left of center than I thought. That aspect of him is what I was looking for in my representative. We have enought Centrist Democrats and enough Corporate Democrats, we need more Progressive Democrats like Keith.
Update - I remembered something, how could I forget, because it was very relevant and a great point. Keith made a comment about how the US will not, and should not, compete with the world for lowest labor cost, that we need to emphasize quality over low cost and quantity. An example of this would be Germany. Also, the company that I work for that does exactly this. I work for a company that makes capital equipment, and software, for semiconductor manufacturing. The equipment starts about $200,000 and can go to $2,000,000 and is manufactured in MN. That is right, an actual, physical, high tech product manufactured in the USA. We have competition that has cheaper equipment, and will even sell at a loss, just to sell. Our sales team is directed not to do that. The point is to sell the quality of the technology, that is why you are paying a higher price. The company I work for just had it's best quarter ever.