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Favorable or Unfavorable #284: Russ Feingold


Favorable or Unfavorable #284: Russ Feingold  

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  2. 2. Favorable or Unfavorable #284: Russ Feingold

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Sen. Russ Feingold (WI-D) is certainly a throwback to a Wisconsin La Follette progressive, possibly the last, unless you include Mandela Barnes. Feingold, like most outsiders, racks up a ton of actions because he's often in the minority. However, a lot of the things he supported then are commonly supported now -- gay marriage is supported or tolerated by most Americans now. About half the population is critical of NAFTA or wants campaign finance reform. Universal Healthcare is supported or tolerated by most now.

The great thing with being a progressive is that your ideas ultimately win. You win the war but lose many battles. It's sort of like Grant's Wilderness Campaign. He lost or drew most of those battles against Lee, but ultimately won. The depressing thing with being a Conservative--especially a traditionalist--is that you will lose if the progressives are pushing a countering idea; the upside is you get to appear like you're winning for years, decades, or centuries until you do lose. This is the case when you think of expanded voting rights, elected presidents and politicians, expanded opportunities for citizenship, civil rights, civil service reform, access to healthcare and education, higher wages, reasonable work hours, etc.--All those Square Deals, New Deals, Fair Deals, and Great Societies all began with much earlier progressives. 

This said, Feingold might be one of my favorite politicians. He often gets overshadowed by Kucinich, Warren, or Sanders. I even sometimes forget about him, but he might be the progressive with the fewest drawbacks. He's not an open Socialist (like Sanders), he doesn't get hooked by occasional conspiracy theories (like Kucinich), and he doesn't have the charisma of an old Lisa Simpson (like Warren). For those who dislike Feingold, you can really thank Ron Johnson for defeating him twice. I think both Feingold and Johnson really show the divergent views of Wisconsin politics really well. It's an interesting state. 

His actions:

Feingold, Russ 1993 Opposes NAFTA
Feingold, Russ 1996 Opposes Defense of Marriage Act
Feingold, Russ 1998 Only Dem to vote against dismissing Clinton impeachment case
Feingold, Russ 2001 Only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act
Feingold, Russ 2001 Surprise vote in helping confirm Ashcroft as Att Gen
Feingold, Russ 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign reform
Feingold, Russ 2002 Broke w/ majority of his party by opposing Iraq War Resolution.
Feingold, Russ 2005 First Senator to call for withdrawing troops in Iraq
Feingold, Russ 2006 Comes out in support of Gay Marriage way before most US politicians; walking out of vote on Const Amend't to ban it
Feingold, Russ 2006 Writes State-Based Healthcare Reform Act, which sought to create universal healthcare under state guidance
Feingold, Russ 2006 Twice calls for the censure of Pres. GW Bush
Feingold, Russ 2006 Declines pressure from progressives to run for pres in 2008
Feingold, Russ 2008 Relatively early supporter of Obama over Clinton in Dem primary
Feingold, Russ 2009 Proposes bill to end federal death penalty
Feingold, Russ 2009 Calls for Const Amndt to require special elections to fill Senate vacancy rather than Gov appt.
Feingold, Russ 2010 Only Democrat to vote against Dodd-Frank
Feingold, Russ 2010 Dems lose Progressive voice in Senate w/ defeat for reelection against Ron Johnson
Feingold, Russ 2016 Defeated in high-profile bid to win back his seat from Ron Johnson
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Overall, I don't find Feingold favorable, but I respect the Representatives and Senator (only Feingold) who bravely stood against the Patriot Act. Extra points for also voting against the Iraq War.

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