November 2010, Week 1


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Wed, 3 Nov 2010 22:05:25 -0400
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Crushed by Feingold's Defeat 

By Matthew Rothschild,
The Progressive
November 3, 2010

How ironic it is that Feingold, who more than any other
Senator tried to limit the poisonous influence of
corporate money in politics, succumbed to that very

Progressives across Wisconsin, and across the country,
are feeling crushed by the defeat of Sen. Russ
Feingold, one of the finest Senators ever to represent
the Badger state.

Feingold lost 52-47 to Ron Johnson, a wealthy plastics
manufacturer with no political experience.

The old rules of politics no longer apply.

You can win every debate, as Feingold did.

You can get practically every newspaper endorsement in
the state, as Feingold did, including some very
conservative ones.

You can be a loyal and dutiful servant of your
constituents, coming home every weekend and visiting
every county every year, as Feingold did.

And you can still lose.

One reason is money, and the hideous Supreme Court
decision in the Citizens United case, which opened the

"Common Cause of Wisconsin estimated the total spent at
$40 million to $45 million for the senate race, a
record amount. Outside groups spent about $5 million,
most of that on ads opposing Feingold," according to
the Wisconsin State Journal.

How ironic it is that Feingold, who more than any other
Senator tried to limit the poisonous influence of
corporate money in politics, succumbed to that very

Feingold also has Barack Obama to thank for his defeat.

Obama failed to deliver the change he promised, failed
to deliver the jobs he promised, and cozied up to Wall
Street, so voters across the country took it out on
Democrats with a vengeance.

For instance, the AP ran a story about a Wisconsinite
opposing Feingold because she said he voted for the
bank bailout. When the reporter informed her that
Feingold actually voted against the bank bailout, that
didn't change her mind. She responded that the
Democrats still spent too much.

Poor Feingold. More than most Democrats, he was a
deficit hawk, but that counted for nothing on Tuesday.

Johnson ran a brilliant, vacuous campaign, with soft,
gauzy commercials and an "aw, shucks" regular guy

He drummed into voters' minds that Feingold's first
name was "career" and middle name was "politician."

And he stood in front of gorgeous Wisconsin scenery in
ad after ad, and talked about the need to cut spending
and to bring a businessman's perspective-not another
lawyers' perspective-to D.C.

Feingold's ads, by contrast, were often ineffective,
and he refused to go as negative as he could have, and
he told liberal outside interest groups not to
advertise for him.

As a result, voters didn't hear often enough, for
instance, that Johnson thinks man-made global warming
is "lunacy," that Johnson opposes extending
unemployment insurance because he doesn't want people
to have an incentive not to work. Most crucially, we
didn't hear at all that Johnson actually testified
before the state legislature earlier this year on the
side of the employers of pedophiles! Johnson wanted to
limit the financial awards that victims of pedophiles
could get from those employers. He sided against the
victims, and most candidates would have hammered him
for that. Feingold gave him a pass.

Now Feingold leaves with his dignity and his principles

I didn't agree with Russ Feingold on everything.

He was too much of a deficit hawk for me.

And his reflexive defense of Israeli government
policies toward the Palestinians was at odds with his
otherwise stellar human rights record.

But he was a fantastic Senator.

You won't find a smarter, more diligent, more
independent, more courageous person in that chamber.

He was the reincarnation of Fighting Bob La Follette,
but with shorter hair.

He was the only Senator to vote against the USA Patriot
Act, and his speech against it could have come right
out of La Follette's mouth.

Said Feingold: "There is no doubt that if we lived in a
police state, it would be easier to catch the
terrorists. . . . But that wouldn't be a country in
which we would want to live, and it wouldn't be a
country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our
young people to fight and die. In short, that country
wouldn't be America."

He was the only Democratic Senator to vote against the
financial reform law because he said, rightly, that it
didn't do enough to prevent another banking crisis.

He led the fight against destructive trade deals like

He opposed the Iraq War.

He voted against the deregulation of Wall Street and
the repeal of Glass-Steagall.

He fought for media reform.

He railed against the malignancy of corporate power,
stressing, as La Follette did, that it is destroying
not only our economy but also our democracy.

Now Russ Feingold is gone.

And Wisconsin is a less proud place to live in today.

    If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the
    editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his
    story "Why Jon Stewart's Speech Left Me Cold."


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