Representative Keith Ellison came to the House floor tonight to explain what the Progressive Caucus stands for. In the process, he drew some sharp, biting, well-deserved distinctions between conservatives and progressives. It should be required
March 17, 2011

Representative Keith Ellison came to the House floor tonight to explain what the Progressive Caucus stands for. In the process, he drew some sharp, biting, well-deserved distinctions between conservatives and progressives. It should be required viewing for every Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh fan.

In this short excerpt, Ellison gets very specific about his view of the American Dream. You should watch the whole speech if you get the chance over on CSPAN, but this was where he really got passionate and animated.

The American Dream, but the dream I'm talking about is rooted in the Pledge of Allegiance. I've got to confess to you, Mr. Speaker, I love coming here to say the Pledge of Allegiance whenever I'm privileged enough to be on the House floor at 10 AM or 12 or whenever we open. I always feel good about saying the Pledge of Allegiance. I teach it to my children.

Note: for those who still doubt Muslims' loyalty to this country, please read that and view the clip over and over till you get it.

The Pledge of Allegiance. And my favorite part of it -- and of course I love the whole thing -- my favorite part of it is when we say "liberty and justice for all." I love that part of it! For ALL.

Now see, the conservatives in this body, they like to talk about liberty. And then when they're talking about liberty they're not talking about a woman's right to choose, 'cause that's liberty. They're not talking about the freedom of worship -- to be Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Bahai, no religion at all -- they don't believe in that. They believe in only one way to seek the divine and they get more radical with it every single day. They don't believe in liberties like that. They don't believe you should be able to say whatever you want to say, they don't necessarily believe in the liberties that I'm talking about.

They believe in property rights. That's the liberty they're talking about. They mean that you ought to be able to own as much as you want and if you can buy the whole state of Texas, Oklahoma, or Minnesota and you've got the money for it you ought to be able to do it. That's what they're talking about.

They're talking about property. They're talking about -- now, I believe in property rights, too. I'm a very firm believer that you ought to own your home, you ought to own your business, you ought to be able to have some things that are yours and not for the government to control. I share that belief with them, not to the extreme they believe it, but I do believe there is an important role for property rights and I also believe that there's a right for personal liberties, too. And, they're not so hot about that.

But it seems like they end the whole discussion after "and justice for all." They're ok with the liberty part as long as it's property rights. But they're against the "and justice for all."

It says "and justice." Not "or justice." And justice.

Justice has to do with treating people equally. All colors, all cultures, all faiths.

Justice means that you marry who you want to marry in America. It's not the government's business.

Justice means treating people with fairness. That's what it means.

Justice in the economic sphere means that all of us have to share the burden and expense of this great country of ours and that none of us can reap all the goodies of being in America but don't have to pay anything when it comes to footing the bill.

That's justice. Justice.

Now, this last part in some ways is the best part. For all. For every one. Last week we had some hearings in the Homeland Security Committee where one particular religious group was pointed out for persecution, actually. That was a sad day.

For all, though. America is about for all. For everybody. All Americans. Of whatever faith group, of whatever color, of whatever -- rural or urban. Straight, gay, all of us.

Liberty and justice for all. It ought to make you feel good. And when you think about liberty, this means you can do what you want to do. My conservative friends think it only means property. But it really means property or personal liberty.

Justice means we treat people fairly in America. [Note, the final line refers to the right to a fair trial. I cut it off a little choppily]

I'm not sure I can add much more to this than he said, except to applaud him for coming to the floor of the House at 7:30 pm while the Wisconsin GOP was yukking it up with lobbyists and Haley Barbour's cronies elsewhere and speaking about the values that progressives hold dear. Values everyone should hold dear, but too many don't.

Here's a bonus: Watch Rep. Ellison call out B of A, GE, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and ExxonMobil for paying NO taxes. After he does that, he launches into a passionate defense of public workers. Kudos.

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