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Feb 25 2011

Of Politics and Pizzas

I love Keith Ellison, my congressional representative.

It isn’t that he was one of the few new candidates for national office in the last few years who I heard campaign on what he had already accomplished for people as part of the government rather than on what he would do if given the chance. It isn’t that he’s actively sought chances to help others for as long as he’s been on my radar.

It isn’t because he fights loudly and passionately for rational, compassionate causes. It isn’t because he refuses to start from a position of “compromise” in a climate where compromise means surrender.

It isn’t that he defies those who would rule by intimidation and makes it easy for all those he represents to participate in their own governance. It’s isn’t that his response to the shooting at Rep. Gifford’s Congress on the Corner event was to schedule his own less than a week later–and move it to a more hospitable venue when not all who wanted to could attend.

It isn’t because he understands intimately that ours is not a “Christian nation.” It isn’t that he knows and demands that there must be a place for religious minorities in public life.

It isn’t that he is able to represent us in parts of the world where few others can because he refuses to demonize the inhabitants based on their religious views. It isn’t because he insists that peace, security, and prosperity aren’t issues unique to one religion, one country, or one racial designation.

Well, okay, it is all those things, but it’s also a lot more.

This week, I love my congressional representative for one of those silly little reasons that are much larger than they might appear. Sharing a border with Wisconsin, Minnesotans are particularly aware of the turmoil going on in our neighbor’s capitol. Being politically active, I am on email lists for several organizations of variously progressive leanings, local and national.

As you can imagine, I’ve received a lot of email about the Wisconsin union-busting bill and about the protesters. They have uniformly condemned Governor Walker and praised those who went to Madison when their voices were being otherwise ignored. They have also, almost universally, urged me to help out by donating to whatever organization sent the email.

Some of these organizations have been more specific about what they’d do with the money, and some of them have asked me to donate in the name of “solidarity” without telling me what they’ve done for union causes or what they’d do with the money to help organized labor. The vaguest, not surprisingly, have come from Democratic Party organizations.

I also received an email from Rep. Ellison. He also wanted me to donate money…to buy pizzas for the protesters. Of all the people who sent emails to tell me to spend money, he was the only one to tell me I should directly support the people doing the work, who were standing in the cold, who were maintaining against tedium, media misrepresentation, and discouraging odds. Only him.

And that’s why I love my congressional representative.