NPR's afternoon talk show Tell Me More promoted the left-wing Take Back the American Dream conference on Tuesday by granting an almost ten-minute interview to ultraliberal Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Conference, who blurted out "Koch brothers" every two minutes.
"This week, progressive activists are meeting in Washington, D.C. with the goal of answering what they see as the corrupting influence of money with the power of numbers," Martin announced. "Organizers of the Take Back the American Dream conference are hoping to energize the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party ahead of the 2012 election." Martin asked Eliison why they are faced with the mystery that this is a close election, as if Obama should be far ahead at this point despite the very sluggish economy:
MICHEL MARTIN: Representative Ellison, though, why do you think this election is going to be as close as it appears that it will be? I mean, here is the...
KEITH ELLISON: Big money.
MICHEL MARTIN: ...president who - well, let me just finish the question. I mean, here's a president who was resounded with the electoral college victory. Right. A decisive victory. Why do you think it's as close as it appears that it will be?
KEITH ELLISON: Because backlash is always a part of any social movement in this country. We got rid of slavery and then we had Reconstruction, but then we had the backlash to Reconstruction, didn't we? I mean, even today, you know, we fought for the rights of women to be equal in this society and now we see what I believe is actually - is a war on women.
And so, you know, there's always backlash and, you know, if progressives think that they're going to make real advances for the average American to be more fulfilled as a human being and have that reflected in policy and then, you know, the forces of reaction, like the Koch brothers - and, like I said, they're an icon for a broader movement - are just going to sit around and live with it, we're mistaken. I mean, we weren't going to get historic health care and then just have the people who made so much money on the old status quo just sit back and say, well, I guess we lost that one. No. They're going to fight to keep those super profits that they were making under the old way.
Martin did ask Ellison one question from the right -- that the economy presently kind of stinks, and so why shouldn't voters try a different party? Like a good socialist, Ellison made no attempt to defend Obama's record, but touted Social Security as a massive success, as if that spoke to unemployed workers under 60:
MARTIN: I think there are those on the other side who would argue that the reason that the progressives are on the defensive is that their ideas haven't worked and that they're looking at kind of the economic turmoil overseas in Europe right now and they're looking at the ongoing economic trouble in this country and they're saying, you've had your run and your ideas haven't worked and it's time to try something else. What would you say to that?
ELLISON: I'd say that Social Security's one of the most successful programs in the history of the United States. It lifted seniors out of poverty. It lifted people with disabilities out of poverty. Medicaid and Medicare have done the same thing. Civil rights have made this America live up to its deepest aspiration, which is liberty and justice for all.
I mean, you know, the progressive program has, in fact, worked, but it depends on whose perspective you're talking about. If you are the Koch brothers, if you are people who believe that there should be a wealthy generational elite in America, it may not have worked very well because now you've got all these people of diverse colors and backgrounds and religions that you have to now compete for and have to live with and have to respect. So it may not work for them. It may not work for people whose vision of America is a country club.