Five Questions with Rep. Keith Ellison – On Climate; On Hillary; On being Muslim

As in previous years, I again lined up a series of Five Questions interviews at Netroots Nation. This year’s group includes House Democrat Keith Ellison, co-leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; economist Dr. Stephanie Kelton; and Democratic strategist and activist Robert Cruickshank.

Rep. Ellison gave a fascinating interview. I asked three questions about climate, partly as a way to assess his position and partly as a way to present an idea that I knew would be new to him (but not to regular readers) — that we may have no “burnable carbon” and no “carbon budget.”

Your grandchildren's East Coast of the United States

Your grandchildren’s East Coast of the United States

His response was practical — he pointed to legislation he and Senator Sanders were sponsoring, the End Polluter Welfare Act, which would immediately terminate all subsidies to the carbon industry.

As he said later in the interview, this legislation is bill S.1762 in the Senate and bill HR.3574 in the House. Watch for them as they move through these chambers. Ending billions of dollars in gifts to the coal, oil and gas industry is a high priority and is a requirement for moving in a carbon-free direction.

We also talked about how to terminate, not just the subsidies, but the entire industry. For a person who hadn’t thought in these terms before, his list of ideas was impressive.

After the carbon questions I asked about Hillary Clinton and her expected 2016 candidacy. His answer surprised me. Finally, at 15:00 he discusses his spiritual transition from good Catholic to practicing Muslim.

It’s an interesting interview. Pay attention first to Mr. Ellison grappling with what I knew would be a new idea, the concept of “no burnable carbon” if we want to save the climate. He handles himself well and is clearly open to the idea that to keep the earth livable, we need to at least consider an idea that the Carbon Lords (to borrow from Doctor Who) will hate.

Cong. Keith Ellison

Cong. Keith Ellison

About the religion question — as I explained in the interview, Islam is not a religion of orthodoxy in the eyes of most practitioners. It’s a religion of practice and, as Mr. Ellison says, of service and surrender. As such, it is less filled with intolerance of ideas than Christianity, which is much more a religion of orthodoxy. Ellison is wonderfully articulate in his answer.

Next up, my Five Questions interview with economist Dr. Stephanie Kelton. Stay tuned.


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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17 Responses to “Five Questions with Rep. Keith Ellison – On Climate; On Hillary; On being Muslim”

  1. Bill_Perdue says:

    It doesn’t matter in the least whether Democrats or Republicans win – they have the same politics and the left opposes both.

  2. Bill_Perdue says:

    We’re socialists, not purists. Unlike Democrats we fight for workers, people of color, women, etc. Here we’ve won in local areas and in Europe we get larger votes.

    To folloow European developments follow

  3. UncleBucky says:

    So, where have your purist representatives won? Where would you be represented, if you moved there. That includes overseas….. Answer, please.

  4. UncleBucky says:

    Then you are ensuring a GOP win. Simple.

  5. Bill_Perdue says:

    I wasn’t deluded at all about Obamacare.

    And I don’t think the Arab Americans the Obama’s drones murdered go any rights at all ‘in this country’.

  6. GarySFBCN says:

    In this country, you are entitled to your delusion.

  7. Silver_Witch says:

    Any religion is orthodoxy and in my humble opinion invalidates a candidate. They care not about the planet or its people, they care only for their God and of course HE will fix everything so they need not worry about real answers.

  8. Bill_Perdue says:

    You’re confused. I oppose all cults but I also oppose Islamophobia, a form of racism. I do expect that more and more American Palestinians, Arabs and muslims will become active in the pro-Palestinian movement after seeing the heroism of last two months in Gaza. I oppose the racist and extra legal murders of Anwar al-Aulaqi, Samir Khan, ‘Abd al-Rahman Anwar al-Aulaqi and Jude Mohammed by Obama’s drones.

  9. Bill_Perdue says:

    You’re confused. I support unions and oppose the sell outs who run many unions. That’s been our stand since the founding or our movement in the 1870’s and 1880’s.

  10. Bill_Perdue says:

    The DFL are Democrats.

    On election day if I bother to vote, I vote Socialist, or for Labor candidates, for referendums for a decent minimum wage and opposed to the indecent minimum wage proposals of Obama and the Republicans, or I might write in Chelsea Manning or just sit it out as a protest vote.

    Whatever, I’ll never vote for any Democrat, any Republican or any Libertarian. They’re the enemy. Beyond that, voting for any candidate of parties owned by the rich is wrong.

  11. GarySFBCN says:

    Bill is a revolution fetishist. His naive and romanticized viewing of how things should be and how we arrive there is charming but ignorant. He is anti-union in that he consistently wants us to vote against the recommendations of most of our unions. He is anti-religion but romanticizes about how the Muslim vote is gaining power (really?).

  12. GarySFBCN says:

    So are you celebrating people of faith (Muslims)? Because you waste a lot of bandwidth wanting to end religion.

  13. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    You’re correct about the DFL, but as far as I know, there is no Democratic Party in Minnesota. If there is, they sure are hiding. I’m going to have to watch that more carefully. However, it’s not important to me. I vote for the person and not the party. I guess Bill must cower in the closet on election day.

  14. FLL says:

    From Bill’s comment above:

    “If Ellison is serious he’s in the wrong party. The Democrats are…”

    In those few words, there is so much in the way of bad judgment and ignorance that I scarcely know where to begin. First, Congressman Ellison is a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which is affiliated with the U.S. Democratic Party, and you can easily look that information up. Aside from that display of ignorance, if you look at Bill’s reply to you, you’ll see that he eliminates any political party at all which appears on any ballot. Bill’s comment, then, is off-topic at best and trollish at worst. He is simply asking you and others not to vote, which you can see by looking at his avatar. It’s a thinly disguised plea to help the Republicans at election time.

  15. Bill_Perdue says:

    It does matter. There are vast differences.

    The Democrat and Republican parties are rightwing parties. Obama is a rightwing president and so are most congressional Democrats and Republicans.

    The Greens are pro-capitalist but finally moving left.

    The SP no longer has a life outside the Democrat party. They’re social democrats.

    Revolutionary socialists and the labor left are pushing hard to unionize the unorganized, protect immigrant and imported workers. Democrats won’t do that. They can’t get the job done. Period. They can’t because their party is a right wing party.

  16. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    I live in Rep. Ellison’s district, he has to be Democrat if he wishes to be elected. Personally, that’s fine with me. He works for his district. You heard his views on the climate, and he votes his views. He has strong views on undocumented residents of the U.S. His district has a large Jewish population, but they vote for him. The gay population loves him. Why should I not vote for him, because he has a D beside his name? We should vote for the person who most represents us. It shouldn’t matter if they’re a Democrat, Republican, a member of the Green Party, or the Socialist Party. We should just vote for the one who will get the job done.

  17. Bill_Perdue says:

    If Ellison is serious he’s in the wrong party. The Democrats are a right wing party following Obama and the Clintons who continue to rapidly move right.

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