Hi Redditors-

My name is Keith Ellison. I represent Minnesota's 5th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, which includes Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs, and I Co-Chair the Congressional Progressive Caucus. I am the first Muslim elected to Congress and the first African-American to represent Minnesota in Congress.

Right now I am working to make sure that Congress protects Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security and asks the richest 2% of Americans to pay their fair share when these issues come up at the end of the year: http://1.usa.gov/P3OdrN.

I'll be taking your questions starting at 12:00 EST. I look forward to answering your questions about anything!

UPDATE: Proof this is me. I'll tweet out a picture once we get started.

UPDATE: it has been much fun and too little time on Reddit, but I will be back soon I hope.

Comments: 1951 • Responses: 23  • Date: 

[deleted]938 karma


KeithEllison1518 karma

Please call my Mpls office. I have a staffer name Mike who is great with veteran and military issues. sorry i can't quite quote chapter and verse on how to fix the problem, but Mike can. 612-522-1212

ah102886516 karma

Is it difficult for you to interact with Rep. Bachmann on a personal level due to her repeated insinuations of "Islamic infiltration" of our country and her many demeaning and ignorant comments?

KeithEllison605 karma

no. no personal problems.

accipitradea367 karma

Thanks for doing this Rep. Ellison! I am one of your constituents (Fightin' 5th!) and am wondering how much the political landscape has changed in the last 10 years since you took office in the MN house and then the US house. I voted for you in 2006 and remember how much attention you got when you swore in using a Qur'an. Are people still making a big deal out of your religion? Has it been difficult to get people focus on the issues, like social benefits and tax policy reform, because of your diverse background?

KeithEllison433 karma

Thanks for the question. Things have changed a lot since i began serving in Congress. We're out of Iraq, which is one of the issues I campaigned on. We have a Health Care law that will offer great benefits to people. When I started, it was only a hope. We went thru a massive financial collapse, and then passed major reform. When I started in Congress, I never dreamed GM and Chrysler would fail. not only did they fail, the American people picked them back up, and now both are hiring and thriving. When I entered Congress, Obama was an IL state legislator. Now he's President. Also, perhaps most threatening, Citizens United became the law of the land, and it's perverting our politics in a way none of us have ever seen before. So, many changes have occurred. At the end of the day, one thing remains the same: for working Americans to have a better quality of life, we have to organize, come together, and call for a new politics of inclusion and generosity.

MilitantManatee320 karma

How many of your colleagues who espouse bigotry in public will, behind closed doors, privately acknowledge that it's an act to win votes in parts of the country where that shtick is effective?

Now, brace yourself. This is going to be a little sycophantic. My first exposure to you was when you were on Glenn Beck's old CNN program, and he questioned your loyalty to America. I hope everyone on Reddit watches this video. The grace and calm in which you responded were the sign of a true statesman and frankly more than he deserved.

Pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-civil liberties, pro-environment, pro-clean campaigns, and fighting for working and middle class folks. You're the complete package, and I know your very existence is changing hearts and minds about Muslims, particularly Muslims in America. I used to work for a prominent Latino politician, and the bigotry we'd get all the time in phone calls from people across the country was shocking. I'd imagine your office gets it 10 times worse.

I've been following your career for years and just want you to know that you're an inspiration, my favorite politician in the country. Thanks for coming here today.

KeithEllison299 karma

Most of my colleagues, D and R, are extremely respectful and kind. Some knuckleheads tho.

Black_Delphinium294 karma

Do you feel that, as a Muslim, you and your family are watched more closely by your local media?

KeithEllison594 karma

no, i feel that my family and i have been treated with respect and fairness. i know many people who have reported unfair treatment, and disrespectful treatment, but that has not been my experience. also, in cases where there has been bigoted or hateful treatment, interfaith groups have stepped forward. for example. when Terry Jones protested in Dearborn to incite against the Muslim community there, a multitude of people of all faiths stood and said "no." so, thanks for asking and please go out and build interfaith understanding

Wring72265 karma

What was it like to be on Colbert's Better know a District?

KeithEllison601 karma

Colbert is a cut-up, isn't he? It was really fun doing the "Better Know a District". Before we started, Colbert leaned into me and said "I'm about to become a very different guy". He was right. Real fun.

andrewsmith1986203 karma

What was it like taking oath on Thomas Jefferson's Quran?

KeithEllison441 karma

fun. inspiring. weighty.

BrianThing142 karma

I was at OccupyMN and remember seeing you visit the plaza. Would you agree or disagree with this statement "Money Out Of Politics"? and generally would you support the freedom to protest in the plaza again this year in the same manner? (Will we see you again this year if there is another large turnout at the plaza?)

KeithEllison376 karma

Yes, we need to get money out of politics. Let's do a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizen United. And also, let's publicly fund campaigns. In the meantime, let's pass Disclose Act; so, at least we know who's messin' with our elections. I really admire those Move to Amend guys. Sure, I will be happy to hang with the people on the plaza again.

gambit87130 karma

What are practical ways poor and middle class people can combat the overwhelming flow of money into politics?

Salam :)

KeithEllison261 karma

organize. our superior numbers can overcome their superior dollars.

huffdiddy113 karma

As an absentee Uptown voter, thank you.

Question: Do you think debt reduction is important, and what, if any, measures would you support?

KeithEllison275 karma

Yes, debt reduction is very important. The real issue is how to address it. In the short term, it's more important to get people working. I prefer a major public works program, especially given that we have trillions in unmet infrastructure needs for schools, bridges, power grids, and transmission lines. But we have a long term debt problem, and it will take a combination of spending cuts and new revenue to fix it. Dramatic cuts now would cause the loss of public sector workers which increases unemployment. Four features of any sensible debt reduction: invest in jobs to get more taxpayers to help shrink the debt, increase revenue by closing loopholes and asking the most well-to-do to do a little more, defense must share in the cuts, and finally protect social security, medicare, and medicaid. Check out deal4all at CPC.grijalva.house.gov

[deleted]91 karma

Do you support ending the drug war and Federal intrusion of medical marijuana? If so, what have you done to advance this.

KeithEllison213 karma

yes, drug war was always the wrong framing. Let's get rid of mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, crack-cocaine sentencing disparity, etc. i have voted and organized to emphasize public safety over simple retribution, and have argued for a greater role for mental and chemical health.

iammadeofawesome84 karma

Were you sworn in on the bible or the quran?

Why don't we swear people in on the constitution, since that what you guys are supposed to uphold anyway?

KeithEllison95 karma

interesting idea.

Titan777168 karma

Hey Keith! As a former intern of your office, how are the new batch of interns doing?

KeithEllison98 karma

great! you interns are wonderful.

kissmyapocalypse65 karma

As one of your constituents, I'd just like to say thanks! You're amazing, I'm so proud to have you represent me.

What are some of your favorite places in Minneapolis?

KeithEllison68 karma

Thank you!

PotentiallySarcastic62 karma

Thank you for representing Minnesota! Although I am not one of your constituents I believe you represent what is best about Minnesota.

What is your favorite pizza place in the Twin Cities?

KeithEllison169 karma

Pizza Luce all day. yum yum. staff likes it too. chicken pineapple anyone?

ComputerAgeLlama85 karma

As a former Minnesotan, I sincerely hope he says Pizza Lucé.

KeithEllison106 karma


deuxfeux62 karma

As-salam 'Alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh Mr. Ellison,

As an American Muslim convert myself, I have wondered about your political party affiliation. It seems the Republican party is closer to the Islamic stance when it comes to social issues like abortion and marriage, while the Democratic party is only closer when it comes to foreign policy. In fact, most American Muslims voted for Bush in 2000, but have made the switch to the Democratic party after the Iraq war started.

What has led you to your party affiliation and for what reasons? Is this change good for the American Muslim community? And if so, are there any downsides?

JazakAllah Khayr.

Edit: Big thanks to Rep. Ellison for answering this question. Unfortunately it left a lot out, but adequate.

KeithEllison130 karma

Health care, economic fairness for working people, concern for the poor, environmental protection, respect and tolerance for racial, religious, and social differences. basically, care and concern for people.

a300zx4pak58 karma

What is your view on Citizens United? How do you feel about corporate donations, money, and lobbying in politics, esp in the Presidential campaign? And how many other members share your thoughts?

KeithEllison124 karma

Citizen United is bad bad bad. let's repeal it. see earlier answer.

297c5cc6364817dd03e454 karma

Do you think it was right for General Martin Dempsey (chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) to call 'Pastor' Terry Jones and ask him to withdraw his support for the 'Innocence of Muslims' film?

KeithEllison69 karma


Naterinator45 karma

Do you feel any subtle racism or any hate towards you by fellow congress members?

KeithEllison89 karma

rarely. very rarely

othersomethings39 karma

I've been listening and reading about the embassy attacks, and a recurring theme seems to be expressing to Libyans (and other Islamic majority nations) the concept of democratic freedom of expression.

In your opinion, what would be an effective way the U.S. as a whole and the government could educate those countries on the concept of these freedoms and why they are a cornerstone for free nations?

KeithEllison73 karma

Freedom of expression has historic reference in the middle east. point folks to examples of free expression in their own tradition and urge them to embrace them. Also, respectfully discuss how in the U.S. we have all colors, all cultures, and all faiths, and how, yes, there are problems here too from time to time, but by an large we live together peacefully.

pwnosaurus38 karma

The recent push for Voter ID laws both in Minnesota and around the country worries me. It seems like a clear effort to disenfranchise people who would be most likely to vote for democrats (or DFL). Are you worried about this phenomenon? Do you think democrats will have more trouble in the future if these laws are passed?

KeithEllison69 karma

yes, i am worried about the ballot measure that would put a MN government issued photo ID requirement into the constitution. It would hurt thousands in MN and wouldn't help anything. The massive voter fraud claim is a fraud. But we can still win this. Spread the word. Tell people it's trick to steal their voice.

_TeddyG_29 karma

Firstly, I'm a resident of the 5th (Robbinsdale) and I want to thank you for everything you do, it's a great thing to be truly proud of your Congressman in more than just a partisan way. My question is this: How do you, as a member of the minority party with your background, have a real impact in the House when it's controlled by the most partisan opposition that has ever existed? Thank you again for your service.

KeithEllison55 karma

organizing with progressive community. reaching across the aisle whenever i can. never quitting.