Ellison Was Defeated by His Own Actions Not by Any Smear
by Alan M. Dershowitz
February 27, 2017
The close vote by the Democratic National Committee to reject Keith Ellison as its chairperson was a victory for basic decency and a defeat for the kind of bigotry represented by Ellison’s past associations with Louis Farrakhan and his current voting record against Israel’s Iron Dome. Ellison’s loss is not attributable to any “smear campaign,” as some of his supporters have falsely alleged, but rather to his own actions, both past and present. Would anyone call it a smear if a candidate’s history of sexism, racism or homophobia had been exposed? Why then it is a smear to have raised questions based on Ellison’s past associations with anti-Semitism and his current voting anti-Israel voting record? Nor was it a smear to question Ellison’s credibility when he said that he was not aware that Farrakhan was an anti-Semite, when Farrakhan himself was publicly boasting about his Jew hatred.
The smear charge itself reflects the kind of double standard within elements of the Democratic Party that worry centrist pro-Israel voters. Both Democrats and Republicans alike must have the same zero tolerance for anti-Semitism as they do for sexism, racism and homophobia.
The growing influence of intolerant hard left extremists endangers both our country and the Democratic Party. Democrats must recognize the reality that the United States is not a hard left country. Unlike some European countries, we have never had significant Communist or socialist parties. Nor are we a hard right country, with a history of fascist parties. We govern from the center, alternating centrist liberals, such as Obama and Clinton, with centrist conservatives like the Bushes and Reagan.
When the Democrats tried to move leftward, even with such moderate leftists as McGovern, Mondale and Dukakis, they have been overwhelmingly defeated. The combined electoral votes of these three leftish candidates would not have been enough to win a single election. The Republicans experienced similar rejection when they went to the far right of their party and nominated Barry Goldwater.
Had Sanders won the Democratic nomination, he would have won no more than a handful of states. It is far easier for the hard left fringe of the Democrats to win primaries and conduct loud demonstrations than to win national or state wide elections. If the Democratic Party fails to understand this reality they will emulate the British Labor Party, which rejected the kind of moderate liberal leadership represented by Tony Blair in favor of the extreme leftist Jeremy Corbyn. The Corbyn led Labor Party is popular among left wing extremists, but today it could not be competitive in a national election. Nor would the Democrats be competitive if they allow themselves to be taken over by the Sanders fringe.
Great Britain has a far greater proportion of hard left voters than the United States. Yet even there, the radical Corbyn left cannot attract enough voters to be competitive — even in the post Brexit environment. It would be worse — much worse — for the Democrats if they become the party of the extreme left.