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Keith Ellison Warns Democrats: Focus on People, Not Fundraising

“Trying to go dollar for dollar with these Republicans is a losing strategy,” Ellison argued.

Also see: Progressive Activism Seen as Key to Democratic Turnout in Midterm Elections

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn), the co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, has a sharp warning for Democrats in an exclusive interview with Focus less on fund-raising and more on people and their need for progressive, populist solutions to their concerns about the economy.

“Trying to go dollar for dollar with these Republicans is a losing strategy,” Ellison argued in the interview with Truthout’s Sam Knight. “I’m not saying that money’s irrelevant. What I’m saying is we’ve made it too important.”

“We’ve got to break the mold of sitting in these cubicles all day asking people for millions of dollars. We’ve got to get out in the street and talk to the people,” he said. “That is the road to success.”

Low midterm turnout of Democratic base voters is “killing us,” Ellison said, and the way to address that is “issue-based campaigning” around such issues as minimum wage increases, immigration reform, equal pay and mandated paid sick leave.

“That will get voters to say, ‘Oh okay, if that’s what you’re talking about, I’ll show up,’ ” he said. “But if it’s just ‘Come vote’ – it’s like, for what?”

Ellison is one of the speakers at The New Populism Conference in Washington on May 22, sponsored by the Campaign for America’s Future. The conference features a keynote address by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and will be focused on defining and building an independent progressive populist movement powerful enough to shape the economic policy debate and boost progressive candidates.

Conference tickets are limited. To learn more about the all-day conference and purchase tickets, click here.

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