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The Loss of Russ Feingold: Lamentable and Shameful

2010 November 3
by J.A. Myerson

Bring yourself back, if you can bear it, to October, 2001. Remember flags ubiquitous, tears irrepressible. There were a good many of us who declared at the time that we were afraid not only of the threat of violence from abroad but also of the domestic danger that our liberties would be revoked in the name of security. We had good reason, too; after all, like offenses have routinely beset crisis-ridden countries. Those of us who opposed the Security-Over-Liberty fervor saw our righteousness, patriotism and sanity questioned daily in the halls of power and on the airwaves—America had just been attacked, and it was shameful of us not to stand behind our government as it did whatever it announced was necessary in response.

Late in the month, the Senate passed (before it had even deliberated) the PATRIOT Act, which significantly limited the liberties of Americans and enormously bolstered the government’s powers to intrude into the private lives of the same. The roll call from that day reveals one lone vote of “nay.” Think back. Which Small Government, Get Washington Off Our Backs, Rights Of The Individual, Limit The Powers Of The Federal Bureaucracy, Don’t Tread On Me Republican Senator cast that vote? Jeff Sessions? John Kyl? Mitch McConnell?

None of them. It was Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, who for the last 17 years has been the conscience of the Senate, one of the few public servants at so high a level of government to embody consistent integrity, thoughtfulness and principle. And for his nearly two decades of unwaveringly exemplary service, Wisconsin voters replaced him yesterday with a man named Ron Johnson, who, among other things, defended BP from the “all-out assault” President Obama had “launched” on the corporation, later to disclose that he owned more than $100,000 in BP stock.

There are progressive commentators who have latched onto silver linings in the tea party cloud that shrouded the nation yesterday, and I’m given to buying a lot of their arguments. But the loss of Russ Feingold hurts very badly. Not as loud a mouth as Jim DeMint and lacking the celebrity status of Al Franken, Feingold is unlikely to be commemorated much in the headlines, and this is a travesty, because if ever this country needed an example of a life well spent in politics, that moment is now. Let us take this opportunity to mourn the end of Feingold’s career in the Senate.

It began with a contract that Feingold wrote on his garage door, consisting of five promises:

1. I will rely on Wisconsin citizens for most of my contributions.

2. I will live in Middleton, Wisconsin. My children will go to school here and I will spend most of my time here in Wisconsin.

3. I will accept no pay raise during my six-year term in office.

4. I will hold a “Listening Session” in each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties each year of my six-year term in office.

5. I will hire the majority of my Senate staff from individuals who are from Wisconsin or have Wisconsin backgrounds.

That contract – along with campaign ads consisting of home-movies introducing the public to his house, wife and public-school-enrolled children – formed the bulk of his 1992 primary campaign, which pitted Feingold, a relative unknown, against two millionaire opponents.

His subsequent campaigns all followed the tenor of that first. In 1998, Feingold capped his own fundraising at $3.8 million, or one dollar for every Wisconsin citizen. He refused money from wealthy interests and demanded that lobbing groups and even his party abstain from making ads on his behalf. In 2004, after his unpopular votes against the PATRIOT Act and the bill authorizing the war in Iraq, Feingold even carried a number of counties that went for President Bush to win by 12 points; more than 90% of the money he raised in that campaign came from individuals, with an average contribution of $60.

This type of grassroots good-governance posture not only defined his campaigns but, as a result, his legislative career, too. The bill for which he is most famous, the McCain-Feingold Act, limited both the influence of soft money in campaign financing and the flood of issue advocacy ads in the weeks leading up to elections. (The last provision was undone by the Citizens United ruling earlier this year). It is also the reason hopefuls must endorse their own ads with an “I approve this message,” which makes candidates more accountable for the external communications their campaigns undertake.

Holding himself true to his original five campaign promises, Feingold returned over $50,000 in raises to the US Treasury in his time in the Senate and returned all appropriations his office, by all accounts the most frugal of any senator’s, didn’t use, and this to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. That type of fiscal frugality is precisely what the Tea Party and conservative folks who cut short his career claim to be looking for in a candidate. Indeed, for his budgetary conservatism, Citizens Against Government Waste, the right-wing tax-payer watchdog, ranked Feingold more favorably than any other Democrat.

Conservatives should also have appreciated Feingold’s idea for a constitutional amendment prohibiting governors from making temporary senatorial appointments, citing the corruption revealed by the Rod Blagojevich affair. They should like that he was the only Democratic senator who voted against dismissing the impeachment of President Clinton, standing firm in his conviction that prosecutors should have “every reasonable opportunity” to prove the guilt of the accused. Most importantly, perhaps, Feingold had the courage to do what conservative favorites like Bob Corker and Tom Coburn couldn’t: he voted against TARP. Fighting to expose and abolish government corruption, maintaining a hawkish posture on the budget and opposing the government bailout of the Wall St. banks – those tea partiers who rally for better reasons than foil-hat conspiracy theories and naked bigotry should thank their lucky stars for a Senator like Russ Feingold.

Not that he was a conservative. To the contrary, Feingold was, for the years between the death of Paul Wellstone and the election of Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown, the only reliable progressive voice in the senate. A staunch opponent of the Iraq War, expanded military spending, trade policies that send American jobs elsewhere, the privatization of Social Security, capital punishment and prayer in schools and a firebrand advocate for immigrants, progressive taxation, alternative energy sources, Americans living through poverty, public education, national health care, gay marriage (note: not just civil unions) and women’s reproductive rights to privacy, Feingold was incorruptible and earnest in his advancement of policies founded on social solidarity and mutual cooperation.

This type of honesty and conviction, so rarely on display in the nation’s capital, was not reciprocated by the Johnson campaign that defeated him.

Take, for instance, this ad, which does its college best to twist Feingold’s words and positions through the use of innuendo and non-sequitur. In it, Feingold is shown claiming, rightly, that nationwide private sector employment has grown for 9 consecutive months, by all indications a sign that the economy is moving in the right direction, if too slowly. By way of rebuttal, the ad notes the job loss in Wisconsin, a standard which does not contradict Feingold’s statistic, and extrapolates from it that Feingold was claiming that the economy was fine (or better – gangbusters!). The word “gangbusters” was not one that Feingold used at all to describe the economy, but his quotation of the way a local fence-builder described his business operation at a county fair – bear in mind, this ad’s specific claim was that Russ Feingold is out of touch.

Out of touch! This from a guy who opposed a Wisconsin bill that would protect child sex abuse victims from their abusers; Johnson opposed the Recovery Act, which created more than 640,000 jobs in Wisconsin; he supports teaching creationism in schools; he called scientists who attribute the climate crisis to man-made causes “crazy;” he believes in marriage discrimination and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; he attributed his opposition to stem cell research to the amount government-funding of the same adds to the deficit. Show me a man who thinks that Parkinson’s disease is bad, but not as bad as that pesky 0.000084% of the federal budget, and I’ll show you a man who ought to think long and hard before hurling accusations like “out of touch.”

I forget the wit who remarked recently that we don’t need better politicians as badly as we need better voters, but nowhere is that more obvious than Wisconsin, where the electorate, faced with the prospect of re-hiring or firing a politician better than whom none lives, decided on the latter. I will strain myself to attribute reasonable motives to those who are hostile to my views, but given the evidence, I cannot believe that Wisconsin’s rejection of Russ Feingold was borne of earnest investigation into the candidates and their positions on issues. Even Tim Carney, the arch-conservative columnist for the right-wing Washington Examiner was moved to remark on Twitter: “I gotta say, losing an honest liberal like Feingold would be a bit sad. Could we give him Schumer’s seat instead?”

No, we lost Feingold because of a stupid and fatuous voting public, who would rather throw tantrums than investigate with any rigor the actual salient facts. How the founders would cringe to imagine an electorate so pathetically short-sighted that it votes the way children have fits: I’m not happy; I want something different! We are a country of big, fussy babies, and we are cutting off our nose to spite our face.

All it would take to make an informed electorate would be a little interest and a society that encourages a culture of the mind rather than a culture of the gut. Even the stupid are entitled to their opinions and their votes, but if they want to show themselves worthy of the democracy they enjoy, a democracy that many people died and killed for in our war for independence, they are not entitled to their stupidity. It makes one recall the words of John Stuart Mill (from Considerations on Representative Government, 1861):

Thus a people may prefer a free government, but if, from indolence, or carelessness, or cowardice, or want of public spirit, they are unequal to the exertions necessary for preserving it; if they will not fight for it when it is directly attacked; if they can be deluded by the artifices used to cheat them out of it; if by momentary discouragement, or temporary panic, or a fit of enthusiasm for an individual, they can be induced to lay their liberties at the feet even of a great man, or trust him with powers which enable him to subvert their institutions; in all these cases they are more or less unfit for liberty: and though it may be for their good to have had it even for a short time, they are unlikely long to enjoy it.

Russ Feingold was the staunchest defender the Senate had of that liberty. Now we fucked around and lost him. Turns out, far from the ones we’ve been waiting for, we are the ones we’ve been dreading.

Nice one, America.

134 Responses
  1. November 3, 2010

    I accidentally clicked “like.” Now I look like a butt.

    • Brian Fabry Dorsam permalink
      November 3, 2010

      And also inflated your comment count. Well done, sir.

  2. Rebecca permalink
    November 3, 2010

    I’m from Wisconsin and I’m just sick about the loss of Russ Feingold. He has been a source of pride for many Wisconsinites for 18 years and many of us are grieving over his defeat. I partially attribute this travesty to the endless amount of money Johnson had at his disposal in part because of the Supreme Court. Johnson’s campaign ran TV ads endlessly which sadly appealed to most voters’ short attention spans better than the door-to-door grassroots campaign that has served Feingold so well in the past. You are right that most voters don’t bother to inform themselves and the Johnson campaign used that to their advatange. I can only hope that Feingold will forgive the voters and run for office agian as soon as possible – there are so few truly honest politicians so we need Feingold back ASAP.

    • Jason permalink
      November 4, 2010

      Maybe you missed them because you chose to overlook them since your only wanted to view Feingold in the best possible light, but Feingold was running TV ads endlessly as well. To say that one was running them and imply that the other wasn’t is an unfair assessment. I agree that the TV ads were excessive, but it was excessive from BOTH candidates, not just Ron Johnson.

      • Rhonda Greenhaw permalink
        November 4, 2010

        Jason – Feingold was outspent $8/$1.

        Feingold was a target, and money was the weapon that they used.

      • Caleb permalink
        November 4, 2010

        I was intimately involved in the airing of this season’s political ads. I saw every one from Feingold and Johnson. I saw their relative proportion and duration, and I had a bounty of time to analyze and obsess over each one. Ron Johnson used rafts of empty language to describe his own perspectives, and spent most of his time attacking Feingold primarily with video clips that sound embarrassing when taken out of context, as shown here and beyond. In Feingold’s rare attack ads, he presented Johnson with ample context and without video.

        Call me crazy, but I won’t speak out in favor of a candidate whose campaign freezes the opponent’s face in unflattering poses. That’s how Tom Barrett turned me off. I voted for him because our new Governor-elect is a silly goon, but I didn’t like Tom Barrett either, because his campaign never-endingly sunk to a level that Feingold never would.

      • Etten permalink
        November 4, 2010

        I have a hard time knowing if the mailings I receive are what everyone does, or if special interest groups and committees target households based on demographic BUT regardless, this is my personal experience of ads and mailings this past election:

        The only ad I recognized able of being perceived as negative from the Feingold campaign was the one in which Feingold “attacks” Johnson for his opinion on reforming Social Security. I did not receive a single mailing from the Feingold campaing that did anything but communicate his plans for our country. Not one mention of Johnson.

        I can recall at least 3 Johnson ads (which on my TV I actually tallied one night as being run nearly 40% more often than Feingold ads) that were highly negative, abused scare tactics, and personally and politically attacked Feingold.

        End of story – Feingold was a class act. Even if you disagreed with him, I hope you can at least give him that much.

        My hope now is that Johnson proves himself the same – though sadly, and personally, I doubt it.

    • Jim permalink
      November 4, 2010

      I am not from Wisconsin so I didn’t vote for the man. I lean more Republican than I do to the left. What I liked about him is that he seemed to make a valiant effort to reach across the isle. About your voter comments. Seems what you said was true when people voted for Obama.

    • Scott permalink
      November 4, 2010

      Johnson head a lead in the polls are early as late July – before much money was spent by either side. Feingold was a sitting duck from the beginning.

      • Margaret Murphy permalink
        November 6, 2010

        Feingold has done a great deal for Wisconsin. How dare you call
        such a man a sitting duck. Politics is not a game as I am sure you will soon find out.

    • robin permalink
      November 5, 2010

      I AGREE RUSS run again! Wisconsin will wake up soon!! Wisconsin needs RUSS!! johnson will run us in to the ground!!

    • Guy permalink
      November 5, 2010

      so everyone who votes differently than you is is ignorant and doesn’t inform themselves? Nice elitism. Maybe people actually woke up and saw that Feingold really wasn’t a very good senator, but that can’t be possible because anyone who holds that opinion is an ill-informed moron who sucks into someone’s commercials according to you.

      By the way check out this link…
      Feingold spent about $20 million to Johnson’s $17 million. Don’t know how that translates to Feingold being outspent $8 to $1 but maybe you can explain it to me.

      • November 7, 2010

        This doesn’t take into what private attack ads spent. I looked up the link.

      • Dennis R Parker permalink
        November 14, 2010

        Jason…PLEASE…Don’t try to convince folks who saw what you did. Ron Johnson started running ads months before congress recessed so the Senators could return home to run their campaigns. EVERYDAY we saw at least twenty television ads for Johnson & UNFORTUNATE for us we’ve lost one of THE FINEST AND TRULY DECENT politicians Wisconsin has EVER known! He was also a TRUE voice of THE PEOPLE…right,left, center, republican, Democrat…ALL…no exception. Ron Johnson can only DREAM of being a tenth as good a senator as Russ Feingold was/is. I don’t have to argue about this. Let’s just wait ONE YEAR from now to see if my opinion holds water. I’m confident that I’m correct. We,my friends, have lost the BETTER MAN!!!

  3. Michael permalink
    November 3, 2010

    FYI, the phrase is “to cut off your nose TO SPITE your face”… not “despite”.

    Anyway, I agree and will sorely miss Russ’ integrity and his courage to stand up as one of the only true progressives left in Senate. The fact that he was reelected in 2004, in the heart of the Bush years, made me think Wisconsin voters (a group I’m a lifelong member of) thought highly of him; maybe it was I who thought (too) highly of my fellow Wisconsin voters…

    • Millie permalink
      November 4, 2010

      I know I must have given them too much credit too, Michael. I thought there was “no way” enough people in Wisconsin could be convinced to vote for a vacuous, multi-millionaire who was always on the attack. I mean, the guy put $15 million of his own money into his campaign and then attacked Feingold as “out of touch” with the reality of a typical Wisconsinite. I don’t get it. Then again, my voting district went for Feingold 70% to 30%.
      He is not Paul Wellstone; but he reminded me of him in many good ways.

  4. damon williams permalink
    November 3, 2010

    just find it interesting that now that feingold is voted out american voters are stupid children who only wanted change……that how we ended up in this fuckin mess. CHANGE!!! weren’t the voter big cry baby idiots when they voted in barack and his socialist buddies? just wonderin. i am sick of this one sided shit all over the net. if you are gonna attack then attack both sides. the gov’t IS the problem and it doesn’t get fixed by swapping out one ass for another.

    • RanDomino permalink
      November 3, 2010

      So does that make you an Anarchist, or do you just talk big because complaining is easy?

    • Marker permalink
      November 4, 2010

      damon williams, do you have a degree in not making any sense?

      – Seriously, do you even know what a socialist is? Obama is not one. We wish he was one-tenth of the “far left” President the wingnuts’ corporatist overlords and media brainwashers tell them he is.

      – “one sided shit all over the net”? Hello? Now the internet is part of the librul media?

      – Just stop the “both sides” shit right now. Stop it. Now. They are not two ends of a continuum. One side believes it can lie and invent its own reality and IS worse than the other. The truth does NOT lie exactly in the middle.

      • turd ferguson permalink
        November 4, 2010

        damon williams speaks like the perfect poster child of what the right wing is trying to fool themselves and the public into. well said Marker

    • Stan Jok permalink
      November 4, 2010

      Damon Williams: OWNED!

    • Jeff permalink
      November 4, 2010

      Change…wait, didn’t someone else win a recent election with the cry of “Change” guess it wasn’t change people were looking for. For me, the election of Ron Johnson is CHANGE I CAN BELIEVE IN.

      • November 5, 2010

        nope. that was “Hope”. Not quite the same thing. ‘change you can believe in?’ seriously? back to square one..

    • November 6, 2010

      The issue with this election cycle was frustration. This generation has not had to deal with such a severe failure that has happened to the economy. These failures were brought on by a super-heated housing industry, several Ponzi schemes, and Al-Qaida..

      In Bill Clinton’s second term, he had a surplus budget that began reducing the national debt and rebuilding the Social Security fund.

      The year G. W. Bush took office, we almost immediately had a deficit again because he decided to remove the taxes propelling the surplus, which was getting the money from the rich. Once this happened, the downward spiral started, and on top of it all, began hurting those who need the money the most…the poor and lower middle class families.

      With Obama, he wants to restore that surplus, but it won’t be easy. The economy is in shambles, there is all this fingerpointing, and nobody is taking responsibility.

      Looking back at the 1930’s and the bank failures at that time, the “prop-up” of the banks was the right thing to do, and has been paying itself off. The Treasury has received a profit so far, and if GM goes public in a big way, it could even get back double what it put into them. THAT ladies and gentlemen, is an investment.

      We need to remember things take time to heal. We need to fix the sources of the problem, as there is no one fix all solution. We need to transition globally. This takes time, and may take decades to accomplish. Could this economic environment last decades, yes. It took 15 years and a World War to pull out of the economic nightmare of the 30’s and 40’s. Without the war, it would’ve likely taken another 10 years or more.

      I hope we do not have to worry about another all out war which would destroy nearly all of us in the process before the economy improves…

  5. November 3, 2010

    I could never figure out why someone who could be so smart and progressive on some issues could by so right-wing on others: Like defending Israel’s killing of many hundreds of civilians in Lebanon and Gaza, attacking human rights groups who dared to document Israeli war crimes, supporting the attack on the humanitarian aid flotilla in international waters and the killing of nine on board, attacking the international court of justice for ruling that Israel (like all countries) had to abide by international humanitarian law, defending Israel’s illegal settlements and separation wall, etc.
    That’s why I just couldn’t send him a check or anything. I support human rights and international law regarding all countries, even right-wing allies like Israel. Feingold doesn’t.

    • Joel Barry permalink
      November 3, 2010

      You make a good point re: Feingold’s dismissal of the crimes of Israel. I’m Jewish, and have always admired Feingold’s progressive politics, but you’re right about his one sided view of Israel.

    • Josh M permalink
      November 3, 2010

      And you think Ron Johnson is more of a humanitarian? Ha!

  6. John Whitefield permalink
    November 3, 2010

    HA-HA! Ba-bye.

    • November 3, 2010

      Oh good. I was wondering when we’d hear from the pro-Bailout, pro-corruption, pro fiscal waste, pro war, anti-liberties faction.

  7. Tony C permalink
    November 3, 2010

    Thank GOD he’s gone! Being from WI I CAN SAY for a FACT that he DID NOT represent the mid western values that we hold dear. I now must go and grab my Bible and gun and watch Ron Johnson and teh rest of the republicans fix the mess that this hope and change shit got us into.

    • November 3, 2010

      Out of curiosity, what are the Midwestern values that you hold dear? (And how did someone who, as a FACT — in all caps — didn’t represent them manage to get elected so consistently nevertheless)?

      • Josh M permalink
        November 3, 2010


        First off, great article. Secondly, I grew up in northern Wisconsin and still live in southern Wisconsin and can tell you that ‘Tony C’ doesn’t know his head from his ass. In no way does his millionaire buddy Ron ‘No Plan’ Johnson know anything about Midwest values…all he knows is how to scare people.

        Feingold was a true representative of this state and I’m still lost for words as to why people bought into Johnson’s b.s.


      • November 5, 2010


      • Maggie_C permalink
        November 5, 2010

        I’m pretty sure Poe’s law just got you, regarding Tony C’s comment.

    • November 4, 2010

      I’m from Wisconsin, and I’m not a goddamn simpleton hillbilly! To hell with the bullshit Midwestern stereotype.

      • Buck Rogers permalink
        November 4, 2010

        Well, I’m from Wisconsin, and I’m a goddamned simpleton hillbilly, and I voted for Feingold..because Johnson sh*t canned over 300 full time employees from his plastic factory in favor of using prison labor for under a dollar an hour. Now there’s change you can believe in. Slavery anyone? Just step out of line, go to jail and you too can have one of Johnson’s cushy jobs.

      • Michael permalink
        November 4, 2010

        Where’s your source Buck? Because I think it’s about as reliable as mine that says Feingold is really the secret President of

      • Cat permalink
        November 4, 2010

        He does hire cons.

        I am sure that there are many law-abiding citizens out there that could use the jobs that these prison inmates are enjoying. Law-abiding citizens that need to support themselves and their families….

      • Michael permalink
        November 5, 2010

        LMAO… Come on Cat… He employs NINE cons. Buck Rogers above implied like 350!! And it’s part of state program to get workers job experience!! I’ll bet your SOURCE… The Huffington Post… has all sorts unpaid interns working for THEM. Russ prolly did TOO. I wonder why they didn’t do an article about that? 🙂

        What he is doing is a GOOD thing. Thank you all for calling attention to it.

    • Elf permalink
      November 4, 2010

      Russ was a neighbor of my family when I grew up in Middleton. One of his daughters was in my Girl Scout troope and graduated with me. Total middle class and class act. I saw his promises on his garage door and he kept him. Don’t say you know for a fact when you do not. I am curious about your values. And I find it amusing the you and the middle class and poor in Wisconsin think Ron Johnson cares about you. He’s a buisness man, that’s it.

    • Kate permalink
      November 4, 2010

      I’m from the WI, did I miss the day we got together with the rest of the region and voted on what, moving forward, we could define as Midwestern values. I feel kinda bummed that I missed the memo.

      People from the Midwest have an array of values, because the Midwest has a vast array of people. Feingold may not have represented what your values, but your values =/= Midwestern or even American values, they simply represent you personal values. The amount of hubris you show when you decide what we all value is astonishing.

    • Beth permalink
      November 6, 2010

      I’m from WI and I’m glad Feingold won in my county. When asked why some of Johnson’s employees were on the low-income state health insurance plan, his campaign rep said they had “the opportunity” to buy into the same insurance plan Johnson uses. As one of my coworkers said, “Nobody chooses the broke-folks plan if they have another option”.

      Throughout the campaign, Feingold was attacked as a “career politician”. I never understood why you’d rather have someone who’s never served in public office in Congress.

      I’ve respected Feingold for a long time, especially with his vote on the Patriot Act. He was the only one who said, “Hey, maybe we should read this before we vote on it.”

  8. Erin permalink
    November 3, 2010

    “I refuse to live in a country like this — and I’m not leaving.”

    At one point, I stated that if WI were ever back in ‘Republican’ hands…that I would take a 5 hour drive North and make a new home in Canada. Now I just think I’ll use my voice and become a giant pain in the ass. Thanks for a great summary of what is wrong with Americans today, and for providing me with some concise ammo.

    • Jason permalink
      November 4, 2010

      I think we’d prefer that you stick to your original idea and take that 5 hour drive. At least you’d be one Democrat who stuck to their word. Enjoy Canada.

      • Reverend Velveteen permalink
        November 4, 2010

        Again with the “we”…..Speak for yourself, Jason, none of this bullshit of the “royal we.” You may wish people would flee rather than fight but you oughta own it instead of acting like everyone agrees with you, because we don’t. [At least it’s certain that not everyone does, so I feel confident in using “we” in this sentence.]

  9. sam permalink
    November 4, 2010

    Yes! This exactly. You’ve put into words what I’ve been unable to express for the last 24 hours. I truly am ashamed of the people of Wisconsin.

  10. Sarah permalink
    November 4, 2010

    So very well said that it hurts.

  11. Paul Shinkle permalink
    November 4, 2010

    I listened to every debate b/n Feingold and Johnson. And when I voted for Russ at 7.30 Tuesday morning I thought, “this is what voting is supposed to feel like.” For all the spineless chatter about “Independents,” I’ve watched Senator Feingold steer an impeccably ethical, thoughtful, common sense course throughout his Senate career.

    “Only a moron would trade this guy for even a strong opposing candidate,” I thought. “Much less this lightweight, Johnson–this yeehaw who hasn’t even an ordinary patriot’s interest in going to Washington DC as a tourist to see his own country’s history, how the seat of power works.”

    And then the morons came out like rodents.

    Feingold has such a rich intellect. Watching him debate RoJo, he clearly showed that he understood Wisconsin’s economy, clearly had spent time talking to all kinds of people (not only those who agreed with him), articulated his vision and his accomplishments. He knew the breadth of Wisconsin’s manufacturing. He understands agriculture (our second largest economic power). He sees the future: clean water studies, stem cell research, and the strength of the UW system. NO privatization of Social Security. None.

    Intelligence. Clear positions. Proven ability.

    I grant that Ron knows a little bit about his (family funded) own plastics company and some slogans–and how to get the evil guvmint to pay health care premiums for his employees–but little else. I *listened* to him in the debates and forums. I listened and took notes. He. Has. No. Plans. No vision, no clue, nothing to offer.

    He defeated the Feingold from “McCain-Feingold”–the only meaningful campaign finance reform legislation in a generation. The ONLY Senator to vote ‘no’ on the PATRIOT Act–because he was the ONLY Senator to bother to READ it.

    Feingold is a true public servant. And my fellow citizens chucked him for a guy whose primary goal is to ‘repeal the government take-over of one sixth of our economy with Obamacare.’ Straight up Rush Limbaugh scripting.

    And to have Feingold fall at the hands of this adolescent, not-ready-for-prime-time, simply ignorant Tea Party cretin is a deep wound to the state. We traded Escalade for Moped; no one beats the Tea Party in the race for the bottom.

    Ultimately, Feingold lost to a guy who campaigned better than he did. But we don’t need a Senator who campaigns well; we need a Senator who can govern well. And there’s not a single piece of evidence to indicate that Johnson could govern a church bake sale.

    There is a bright spot. Russ can come home now and stay home. And I’ll be very interested to see what this very bright, hard-working, unbelievably honest man will do next for the Great State of Wisconsin. I suspect that, for Russ Feingold, the best is yet to come.

    • John permalink
      November 5, 2010

      “adolescent, not-ready-for-prime-time” would exactly represent Obama. Obama has done a poor job at managing this country – not out of spite, but out of inexperience. He pushed through his own agenda at the cost of MY future. Look to Greece and a number of other European countries to see what debt does to a country. Not to mention that he is f*cking with China – we need China more than they need us (i.e. they hold a large portion of our public debt, they could be our largest grouwth market for AMERICAN businesses to SELL to).

      The best characteristic of a leader is to surround himself with a diverse view – he has NOT done this – look at who his close advisors are.

      Yes, Johnson wasn’t a good choice, but don’t throw around that he’s too young and not ready for primetime – you probably voted for the same 2 years ago.

    • November 5, 2010

      So incredibly well put that it brought tears to my eyes. We have lost a great representative. I feel sorry for those that don’t see that. All but the very rich will be hurt by the outcome of this election.

  12. Jay permalink
    November 4, 2010

    Is this website just a bunch of people from the east coast trying to be sanctimonious dicks. I voted for Russ but I know that the midwest is full of swing states and anywhere geographically away from a decent level of population density is red. I blame the unreasonableness of the Democratic party for the loss of Russ. If that shit show of a healthcare bill wasn’t railroaded through in such a crooked way he would still be around. From that point people realized the problem with having a super majority and the presidency and the whip cracked back. The lack of discussion and understanding cost a good man his job. I don’t think websites like this one are helping either. What kind of person tries to make a point by calling the other person stupid? Is that really your best argument? That just makes you come off as an elitist and with all the people that went to one of the top 5 most expensive universities in the US, Bard, maybe that would be a deserving tag. The bottom line is that Feingold did a crappy job campaigning. He didn’t focus his campaign on his history of being fair minded and it cost him. His ads really pissed me off because they were weak and had tag lines at the end like “keep your hands off my healthcare” that could easily be flipped on him and used by the other side. His ad talking about Social Security and Medicare was crap too. I have no idea who ran his campaign, but they did an awful job and cost him his seat.

    • Rhonda Greenhaw permalink
      November 4, 2010

      I have to agree about Feingold’s campaign strategy. He lost his message, didn’t talk about the economy and what he could do regarding jobs, but most importantly, didn’t get support that he needed from the Democratic Party.

      The loss of Russ hurts, and we in Wisconsin who are progressives are more depressed than anyone. Although there were votes and positions that Russ took that I disagreed with, he was a man with considerable integrity and a true populist.

    • Dan permalink
      November 4, 2010

      I have to agree with you Jay. I live in Wisconsin and also voted for Russ (every time). His campaign was weak. That is unfortunate considering that he (as usual) tried to take the high road and keep his adds positive. He really needed to emphasize how he always stood up for our civil rights and the Constitution. These are the reasons that he was loved by not only his constituents, but many many others across the country.

      I also agree with your point about attempting to persuade others by calling them “stupid”. I see this all the time, mainly from the left. I consider myself to be a true moderate and I am insulted by this method of debate. Nobody has all of the answers and I think it’s high time that everybody realize this fact and open up their ears and actually listen to one another for a change.

      • Reverend Velveteen permalink
        November 4, 2010

        Yes, agreed. Back in August when the campaign office should have been bustling with volunteers, it was relatively dead. And I got the same flyers stuck in my door and people knocking with the same message over and over, rather than hitting up the people who really did need convincing. A better campaign might have meant we’d still have Russ Feingold around…what a shame.

  13. November 4, 2010

    I moved away from Wisconsin this summer, and considering its turn yesterday toward corporate, Tea Party-backed mongoloids, I can’t say I miss it. In a terrible day for anyone who isn’t a infantile, entitled Christian, Wisconsin was the biggest embarrassment. Thank you so much for a magnificent eulogy – not only of the Senator, but of the state itself.

    • Dave permalink
      November 5, 2010

      I moved from Wisconsin about 4 years ago. I voted for Russ every time I could. I wouldn’t have voted for him this time. It was…as others put it above, the crack of the whip. The actions of the Democratic party cost him his seat. I take offense you your statements, and the stooping to calling a group who simply shares a different view than yours “mongoloids, or infantile.” This type of rhetoric will only go to further cost any argument you are making heaps of credibility, and in the end cause problems for any type of cause you support.


      Dave S.

      • Masau permalink
        November 5, 2010


        So you would have voted against him because you were mad about how things were being handled in Washington? Not because you didn’t like how he was voting, but simply because you weren’t happy with the overall picture? Both of my parents voted for Johnson for that exact reason. And it pisses me off. It resembles a child throwing a tantrum in a store because he/she didn’t get his/her way.

        Of all of the dems to remove, Feingold should have been, in my opinion, very last. Especially when his opponent was someone like Johnson.


      • Kris Voelker permalink
        November 6, 2010

        I agree with Dave S.

      • December 7, 2010

        Well, at least you didn’t include corporate in your list of my nasty slurs. That’s a start, anyway.

        The right-wing psycho plebians aren’t just a group I disagree with. They’re a group that is ACTIVELY AGAINST my interests, being that I’m a secular, highly anti-corporate peasant. And until the peasants on the other side of the aisle stop voting against their economic interests in favor of religious, corporate, and queer red herrings, then they’re mongoloids and infants.

  14. Chevman permalink
    November 4, 2010

    Born and raised in WI. Graduated from UW- Madison and MBA from UWM. Feingold lost for a reason and all the whining is not going to change it. When 68% of Wisconsinites told him in Town Meetings that we were against national healthcare, he was smug and voted the party lines. He did not represent the State of Wisconsin on the most major issues of our time; national healthcare and the stimulus spending. He ran on his record and he lost. He had his chance; his 18 years and he lost. Hopefully, we will now see some sanity in regards to spending and regulations.

    • Rhonda Greenhaw permalink
      November 4, 2010

      68% of Wisconsinites at Townhall meetings??? Such a scientific standard!

      When you write, “hopefully now we can see some sanity in regards to spending and regulation…” you belie your ignorance.

      Deficits ballooned under Bush; and regulation “reform” means that businesses will be able to pollute and put out crap products.

      Nice. Enjoy that…

      As a Wisconsin resident I am disgusted that Feingold is going to be replaced by a science-hating, right-wing nut bag like Johnson.

      • Jason permalink
        November 5, 2010

        “Deficits ballooned under Bush; and regulation “reform” means that businesses will be able to pollute and put out crap products. ”

        Uhhh, hey, Mr. Scientific standard… the fact is that deficits ballooned the most when the Democrats took control of both the House and the Senate. That’s where all the balooning work is done. I think you need to review how the Country’s legislative and executive bodies work.

      • November 5, 2010

        Deficits ballooned under Bush for three reasons:
        1) Bush tax cuts
        2) war
        3) war

  15. Dan permalink
    November 4, 2010

    Russ Feingold was one of the few politicians in DC that I trust. I am sickened by his defeat, but hold out hope that he will seek the position of President in the future. I can’t think of a better man for the job.

  16. John Zywicke permalink
    November 4, 2010

    It wasn’t Ron Johnson that beat Russ Feingold; It was the Special Interest Groups, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Insurance Corporations who were the big winners here…Russ Feingold was an enemy to all the Groups that wanted control of Congress, and now that he’s out of the way they’re back in control…We all know that Ron Johnson will bow down to the special interest groups and give them anything they want.
    It’s a shame that the haves will always want more from the have-nots, and will stop at nothing to get it, but someday it will backfire and the haves will fall to the have-nots.

  17. November 4, 2010

    Beautifully written. I mourn the loss of Feingold and what it will mean to the Senate in the years to come. A truly good man just became a victim of the knee jerk conservatism sweeping our country. I worry….a lot.

  18. November 4, 2010

    For a well thought out article the author loses all credibility, in my mind, by resorting to profanity where it is unnecessary. It tells me he is writing via personal opinion from a land far away from the issue.

    Wisconsin is typically a blue state, with voting domination from Madison and Milwaukee due to population density. The only thing anyone in this state has wanted is a senator who listens to what we wanted.

    He’s a far cry from the guy who started out saying he would listen to his constituency and using his hand as a map of Wisconsin to say where he would be campaigning next.

    As for his opponent, his record in any legislative role is yet to be determined. Assuming by party affiliation what he will do when in office is asinine to say the least.

    • Reverend Velveteen permalink
      November 4, 2010

      “As for his opponent, his record in any legislative role is yet to be determined. Assuming by party affiliation what he will do when in office is asinine to say the least.”

      Oh, right. Let’s not judge any elected Republicans by how the others behave. They’re all such mavericks, doncha know. They have never been known to toe any party lines, just like they don’t believe that God is telling them how to run this country, and that the Bible is open to different interpretations. Yep….asinine is the word for it.

      • Dan W permalink
        November 5, 2010

        I’ve read through most of these comments all the way down to this one, and I have to say this is the first post that I felt was absolutely ridiculous.
        I was going to say I was proud of someone (like JM) for finally saying what they thought that wasn’t completely negative to the other party.
        But you had to go and ruin that for me with that comment.
        All of this immature bickering (on both sides) is making me sick. It’s gotten to a point where I almost don’t even want to research the candidates and where they stand because I know I’ll come across stupid internet arguments everywhere I look.

  19. texastom46 permalink
    November 4, 2010

    Finest article I have seen on the loss of Feingold. J.A. Myerson painted for us a clear and concise portrait of how Feingold has stood as the paragon of political and moral integrity — truly progressive and independent, along with a short overview of some of his important legislative accomplishments. Even in the few votes he placed with which I could not agree, I virtually always could appreciate the argument he posed to explain them. (As was rightly pointed out by, the exceptions here having to do with Feingold’s providing a rubber stamp to unconscionable actions by Israel. And yes, I realize that Feingold is a Jew. But still…)

    I would like you to join me and others in writing letters to Obama urging that Feingold be tapped to fill the position of Chief of Staff (or at least another similar position). I feel that Feingold could not only provide intelligent advise to the President, but also help steer the administration towards a cohesive narrative that could be sold to both congress and the American Public. The fact that Feingold is an astute Washington Insider (not always a bad thing!) who has respect among his peers across the political spectrum, and being one who has a track record of bridging the ideological divide through co-sponsoring several landmark pieces of legislation should commend him to being a desirable choice in this regard. After all, Obama clearly holds bi-partisanship as a value but has failed, thus far, in knowing how to make that happen. I believe that Feingold would hold the promise of providing the kind of wisdom and guidance needed to help the Obama administration through to some real accomplishments in what will otherwise be a difficult lame duck session.

    I know that there is a Facebook page with this idea already (!/pages/Russ-Feingold-for-Obamas-next-Chief-of-Staff/129009323820814?v=wall), but thus far this looks more like a rudderless movement; a pipe dream, really. Someone better at this than myself needs to create a legitimate website complete with a well-written letter of petition and get a massive letter-writing campaign. Otherwise, this will be nothing more than another fun Facebook page to like that really goes no where.

    If anyone thinks as I do, I invite you to contact me via e-mail: or find me on Facebook: Tom Webber from Milwaukee, WI.

  20. Michael permalink
    November 4, 2010

    I live in Wisconsin. I saw just as many ads from Feingold. Moot point anyway. Anyone who’s running has the right to spend what they are willing to on ads. If people don’t like your message, you’re not going to win. This year’s California race is proof of that.

    As for Russ… the blog said it all. It’s not just about being conservative on a few issues… It’s about Russ ALWAYS being liberal on social issues, as the blog points out. He was SCREAMED at during his last listening sessions over the Stimilus and Healthcare, but he chose not to listen.

    Wisconsin is center right. Russ reperesented himself and the liberals in Washington very well. But he no longer represented the people of Wisconsin. And that’s why, he was let go by the voters of Wisconsin.

    Any other excuse is just plain fluff.

    • Reverend Velveteen permalink
      November 4, 2010

      No, you cannot possibly think you can describe the entire state as a single political viewpoint. I don’t even need to explain how wrong that is, do I?

      Wisconsin is not center right; parts of it are extreme right and parts are extreme left and there are quite a few folks who fall on either side. I am one of many people of Wisconsin who did feel represented by Russ. That’s a fact and what you say cannot change it.

      In my mind, the people who voted Ron Johnson in are scared, lazy voters who listen to whoever cries wolf the loudest, and instead of educating themselves on the issues they just pull the lever for “change” and hope for the best.

      They include, but are not limited to, individuals in rural areas who are pretty much concerned with their own interests rather than supporting communities, urban schools/arts/ businesses, and really can’t or don’t want to see the big picture on how this will affect the country. Uneducated voters are a very dangerous thing, but just like you don’t need a license or any training to bring a child into the world, every person has the right to vote whether they know what they’re doing or not.

      By the way, SCREAMING your opinion still does not make it the majority or correct opinion, so that doesn’t have any bearing on why Russ didn’t go along with those lovely people.

      • Michael permalink
        November 4, 2010

        Thank you for proving my points Reverend. We are all over… but when you look at all the major issues and balance out those positions… we ARE center right in our views as a whole. And I can say that.

        Russ at best… was center left… and MANY thought FAR left.

        I can ALSO say that you are DEAD WRONG… if you think the people that voted for Ron Johnson were ‘lazy and didn’t educate themselves’. And quite honestly.. I just lost a lot of respect in your opinion for saying that. That’s disgusting.

        The people that came out in droves were VERY educated about the BS that was being done to our country. If you ever watched Leno after the Obama election… you might bite your tongue. Try this:

        And are YOU implying that the people of the suburbs care LESS about their communities and businesses than the people of the big cities??? WRONG… we are just TIRED of paying for YOUR COMMUNITIES that you don’t take care of yourselves!!

  21. Peter Schmitz permalink
    November 4, 2010

    Maybe we could just have Russ be the Senator from the newly created state of “Madison-Milwaukee-Chicago.”

    @Tony C and friends- MY midwestern values are equality, justice, reason, and freedom. I loathe the fact that the term has been co-opted/coded to equate to something like Confederate Pride. A candidate pulls the “Midwestern Values” lever, and you “grab your bible and gun” on cue. Cute.

  22. Tracy Mangold permalink
    November 4, 2010

    The people spoke volumes when they voted Ron Johnson into office. If you don’t like what he does this coming term then vote him out the next election. That’s the beauty of voting. Feingold should be thanking the people who constantly voted him BACK into office year after year after year.

    This is why I firmly believe in TERM LIMITS – no matter what side of the political aisle you come from. Political office was never meant to be a career and Feingold was just one of many who thought they could make it one. It’s time for a change. Time to look ahead with a positive attitude and work together rather than cut each other down. Let’s move on and get something done.

    • A sane Wisconsinite permalink
      November 5, 2010

      “Time to look ahead with a positive attitude and work together rather than cut each other down. Let’s move on and get something done.”

      Where the fuck has this attitude been from all of you Johnson voters for the last two years? Bullshit! Your type wants immediate gratification, has no sense of history (recent or long-term), and is incapable of putting yourself in another’s shoes. I’m happy to work together, but will absolutely not be all give and no take. The fact remains, a million plus of my fellow Cheeseheads willfully voted for a man who did not give a direct answer once about what his vision is for this country, other than cutting down one of the best statesmen in Wisconsin’s history with rank lies and fearmongering. Enjoy your pedophile-supporting Senator assholes, I guarantee you’ll be regretting it within the next year. Oh, and if you object to my profanity: fuck you. Actions speak louder than words, and your ignorant and fearful temper tantrum expecting Obama to fix eight years of destruction in less than two is an action that demands cursing.

    • Autumn Day permalink
      November 5, 2010

      My goodness, my dear Miss Mangold. How reasonable you on the Right sound when the Republicans gain the upper hand. So you’d like the Democrats to make nice, and work with you to move the country forward? Aw, how sweet. I sure would have liked that from the Republicans over the last couple of years. It sure would have been a lot nicer than the giant middle finger the Republicans have given to bipartisanship, the hypocritical condemnation when Obama embraced ideas like mandatory insurance that the Republicans had previously supported but now acted as if the idea had come from Satan himself, the desire to see even the country itself fail if it meant that Obama was taken down with it. The Republicans have done everything they possibly can over the last two years to divide this country, to turn Americans against Americans and Americans against their government, to condemn people as elitist who don’t go along with them, to take the word of oil companies and religious zealots over that of thousands of scientists over matters like climate change and the need for a sensible energy policy. I could go on. The poison that the Republicans have injected into American political life will affect us for years to come, because of their inability to deal with political defeat in 2008. Now that the Repubs have retaken the House, the Democrats aren’t supposed to dwell on their defeat at all, just happily work with the GOP, whose idea of working together ALWAYS had the qualification “just as long as you listen to us and we don’t have to listen to you.” After all, the GOP is without original sin. Well I’ll tell you what Miss Mangold. How about the Democrats treat the Republicans in the House EXACTLY like the Republicans have treated the Democrats for the past two years. You provided the role model for the Dems, so that is surely fine with you. Should be fun to watch.

      • Rhonda Greenhaw permalink
        November 5, 2010

        I’m SO glad somebody said this!

        Unfortunately, this will push the dems to the right – both in the legislature and the White House…the Repugs will strong-arm their agenda and the dems will look at this as a mandate and move to the right…

        Sigh…this is going to be an ugly two years for progressives…

        How about Feingold/Van Jones 2012??? Obama needs a challenge from the left!

  23. November 4, 2010

    plutocracy or kakistocracy?

  24. November 4, 2010

    Great Article. Wish I could say more, but you said it all.

  25. WobblySow permalink
    November 4, 2010

    Nice quote: “Thus a people may prefer a free government, but if, from indolence, or carelessness, or cowardice, or want of public spirit, they are unequal to the exertions necessary for preserving it; if they will not fight for it when it is directly attacked; if they can be deluded by the artifices used to cheat them out of it; ……….”

    I sat in town halls with Russ Feingold, and watched him scoff at those that had the temerity to voice opposition to his positions. With respect to the health care bill, he was unmoved by opposition, he knew better. (See quote above.) He asked how many people would support a repeal of medicare. No one did. He used that as proof that people wanted government health care.

    I felt like he was a drug dealer. “Here little boy, want some of this? It will make you feel good.” Then, when I’m hooked he tries to sell me more. Of course no one wants to repeal medicare. For a generation now it’s been a part of out culture, our planning. Free market alternatives and the necessity to plan have been removed. The real question would have been “How many of you, knowing what you know now about how the government runs things, would have voted for medicare at the beginning?” That he would use that as an argument floored me.

    I read all of the comments from people that support him, people that can’t understand how I might be opposed to him. I can refer to the same quote as the author and think about personal freedoms that I give up to the government little by little. When I do so I am scorned, ridiculed, accused of being heartless and stupid.

    The right takes a beating as the party of hatred. I dunno, Olbermann and the commenters on this blog seem to have some experience with it as well.

    • A sane Wisconsinite permalink
      November 5, 2010

      Why don’t you move to Somalia then asshole. You’ve earned your beating, and it clearly takes one to know one. If you do decide to stay in a nation you clearly hate, please don’t take Medicare, nor for that matter, drive on roads, use the mail, eat inspected food, take government funded meds, or really do anything that the big bad government touches. It’s clearly too dangerous, and you would be better off hiding inside your basement and uttering stupid shit online. You’re clearly well practiced.

      • Dave permalink
        November 5, 2010

        I’m not sure youre response was well thought out, nor justified. The above commenter made a normal argument, and you responded in very poor fashion. What happened to the idea of respecting those who are different? Or, simply a modicum of respect? Maybe that goes out the window when people refuse to use their own names on posts.

        I too feel that Mr. Feingold moved away from the people he was representing, when they were telling him to vote no, he “knew better.” He simply got fired for not listening to the majority of his bosses. Maybe in 6 years he will get another shot…or maybe, God willing, he would run against the worthless Mr. Kohl and take that seat!


      • Michael permalink
        November 5, 2010

        Dear INsane Wisconsinite…. BAHH HA HAH HA HA HA HA!! You crack me up!! NOW you want US to play nice??? The people rejected YOUR way and you did NOT seek our help. So either join us now in doing it with our vision or Go fuck yourself!! Either way… I don’t care!!

      • November 5, 2010

        “Sane”? Really?
        I voted for Russ, the only politician I’ve ever respected, for his nuanced and constructive approach more than anything. The hate-filled, polemical, us-versus-them message of the far right makes me despair for my country. PLEASE do not sink to their level and associate untrue public servant with this garbage. “Take you beating”? Sane? We don’t need that on the left.

  26. Kyle Schwartz permalink
    November 4, 2010

    I think a couple of replies to this piece hit the nail on the head. Extol Feingold’s virtues all you like, it doesn’t change the fact that he wasn’t what the WI electorate wanted. Fair-minded, principled, incorruptible, intelligent, fiscally conservative, socially liberal – candidates that represent these qualities are doomed in such divisive times. The truth is, most people are heavily-biased; believe in a personal hodgepodge contradicting values; have (by definition) an average IQ; are socially conservative; and have absolutely no understanding behind the vast complexities of macro economics – so that’s the kind of candidate they will vote for. It doesn’t help that the majority of the electorate doesn’t know what they want. Do we want to reduce the deficit, or lower taxes? Do we want to stop “corporate fat-cats,” or increase corporate transparency and financial regulation? Do we want to reduce the governments’ control over our lives, or let them outlaw what may be socially objectionable, but personal, decisions made by our citizens? If you said “all of the above,” you might be a re(publican)dneck!

    Anyway, I began writing this about 12 hours ago, and now that I’ve picked it back up again I totally lost my train of thought along with whatever steam was powering it. In conclusion, go Russ and people are silly!

  27. joe permalink
    November 4, 2010

    Johnson is an idiot with no experiance and had to use bulling tactics to get into office. He paid for his seat with his own money. Its a sad day in America when a rich person can buy his way into office. He will not create jobs and in the end will seek tax breaks for himself and all the other rich cornies that supported his run for office. Ask yourself in 2 years when his party still has got anything done are you better off. The tea baggers are bought and paid for by the republican’ts and the funny thing is they don’t even know it :P.

  28. November 4, 2010

    We need Senator Feingold on the Supreme Court. We certainly wouldn’t be fighting millions of corporate dollars thrown into the election pool if he was on the court.

  29. The Other TonyC permalink
    November 4, 2010

    I am happy to say that I helped put Russ in the unemployment line. The energy at the Republican calling centers was feverish and you could just feel that something special was about to happen and it did.

    I know how most of you are feeling as I went through the same stages of anger and dissapointment toward fellow Wisconsinites after the 2008 election…(you know, when most of you on this board thought we were intelligent voters). Thankfully, in retrospect, nothing galvanized us more than 2yrs of Obama, Pelosi and Reid overreach that Russ went along with. As far as Tom Barrett…did any of you seriously believe he had a chance following the failures of Doyle and Democratically controlled chambers?

  30. November 4, 2010

    I’m a 61 year old Wi voter who not only voted for but supported and campaigned for Russ. He is a class act and someone we can be proud of who represents WI. people. Military vets, soldiers, college students, workers, senior citizens, unemployed,… and the list goes on. Disappointed, frustrated…yes. Our new representative is coming in with a desire to change things, but with no plan. He is assembling a list of others from other states in order to get an agenda. So much for listening to the voice of his constituents! Russ came and listened to each region of the state on a yearly basis and would get back to anyone who sent a note or message of concern. I’m going to miss that personal contact he made available to Wisconsinites. I hope to see him in some public position in the near future.

  31. Ashley permalink
    November 4, 2010

    I’m Wisconsin born and bred, and I can truly say that I am ashamed of my state for voting against such an upstanding man as Feingold. Watching that television ad made me sick to my stomach. I watched that very debate in which Feingold made all of those quotes. What did Ron Johnson have to say in that debate? NOTHING of any worth whatsoever. He gave no clear answers and offered no specific plans for improvement other than to extend all of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. And then to see Johnson have the audacity to take that very debate, which Feingold overwhelmingly dominated, and manipulate it to paint Feingold as “out-of-touch”?! Well, Wisconsin, if this is the man you wanted to take Feingold’s place, it’s going to be a long six years.

  32. Aimz permalink
    November 4, 2010

    Great article. I grew up in Wisconsin, currently live in Canada, and still vote absentee in WI.
    When I came home late Tuesday night I couldn’t believe that Feingold was defeated. I don’t get Fox News or MSNBC up here and I have no idea what the pundits were saying. I educated myself on the issues. I still can’t believe that Feingold lost. It’s a tragedy for WI and the US.

    When Canada first introduced a national medical plan in 1966, a lot of the public was not in favor of it. Today, greater than 85% of Canadian citizens approve of publicly funded medicine. The US will get there, it may take time, but we will. I’m looking forward to the day where my Canadian friends no long say, “What is wrong with your country?”

  33. November 5, 2010

    Well-and sadly-said.

  34. Joe permalink
    November 5, 2010

    Bye Russ…don’t let the door hit you on the way out… Beating your constituents over the head about how “wrong and misguided” they are for having opinions other than yours are why you aren’t a Senator any more.

  35. Marty Goldberg permalink
    November 5, 2010

    I spent most of my life in Maryland and now have retired to Florida. Maryland’s election turned out fine for the Democrats. Florida’s was a travesty.

    Russ Feingold will be greatly missed, but a politician with a conscience and integrity is a dinosaur in this day of soundbytes and instant twitted sentances and the Financial Industry running the country. In spite of the supposed re-regulation of Wall Street, the Banks and Insurance Companies, those companies own the current government and have been major contributors to the present opposition. This Tea Party crap aimed at “smaller government” is actually a ploy for financial deregulation. Why has the financial industry largely prospered, while the rest of the country languishes in unemployment, forclosures and new poverty? The financial industry, along with causing the recession, hedged against prosperity and won. They won large infusions of government cash and turned it into profitability by not investing in things like development, small business loans or mortgages, but investing in derivatives and hedge funds which make money both going up and down. All they’ve accomplished in profitability are huge bonus’ for their management. They too have let hundreds of thousands of people go and now we have four or five super banks who control 80% of the countries finances. As we populate the House and Senate with inexperienced dogmatic conservatives, who want less regulation and less government, it’s the financial industry who is backing them so that BofA, Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and a few others can run ruffshod over the economy, with little scrutiny from the Federal Government.

    This whole conservative Tea Party thing is a scam by the financial powers to limit the Feds power, so they may vastly increase their influence over the entire economy.

    • Russ, but not him permalink
      November 5, 2010

      I struggle with “This Tea Party crap aimed at “smaller government” is actually a ploy for financial deregulation.” I refer you to this:

      In it, you’ll watch Republicans trying to reign in Fannie and Freddie. To no avail. I lost my 15 year old company because the economy got trashed by someone who thinks 100% mortgages are good things.

      A thinking mind suggests that covering pre-existing conditions is a bad idea. Let’s you and I start a computer repair company, where we sell warranty agreements when the computer is new. Then the government tells us that we have to sell the same policy to a guy who comes in with a non-working computer. And we can’t raise our prices. Or maybe we tell car insurances companies they have to cover us after we total the car.

      Conservatives get trashed as being heartless, and then brainless. Those that think we are in the tank for big business have probably never sat down to talk with us. 80% of new jobs are created by small business, and we’re pretty cool people to work for. Business has no responsibility to create jobs, they do because it allows them to function. And here is the cool part… can go create a business too, and in doing so create a few jobs. Instead of complaining about the economy, go do something about it. It happens every day.

      Finally, money is created out of thin air. It is not a zero sum game. Bonuses paid to Wall Street do not come from my pocket. If they did not get them, my condition would not improve. When one person decides to pay $1 more for a share of microsoft stock, the value of all shares go up. Bill Gates becomes worth a gazillion more. But it took nothing from me.

      It’s the cool thing about capitalism. Hard work and ideas congeal into dollars. I voted for Ron because Russ didn’t get that. BTW, I’ve never spoken to the Koch Brothers or any associate.

      • Buck Rogers permalink
        November 5, 2010

        In health related matters insurance companies should not be allowed to cancel a persons insurance just because they develop health issues. They should also have to accept people with preexisting conditions. Some companies have been known to dump women from the plans upon finding that they have breast cancer. If you want to see what a death panel looks like visit your local insurance company.. they exist behind closed doors in huge steel and glass office buildings. They cut costs by deciding who will get treatment/live, or not be treated/die. It could be your wife or mother or daughter that they sentence to death next time.

      • Deb permalink
        November 7, 2010

        While all the liberals are complaining about how the conservatives are all about “big business”, what about our Democratic leader himself?? With the passing of the health care bill we see just how he folds to “big business”. Part of the money to fund the new health care reform was to come from the “Cadillac” insurance policies. I would like to see the list of companies excused from this Cadillac taxation….so far it’s the unions…and McDonalds….so who is going to pick up the rest of their tab???
        It is a sad day in our history that anyone with a difference of opinion is labeled stupid or non-informed. I am neither. I am a conservative. Without businesses there would be no economy. Liberals state that they are not trying to socialize America…the spreading and dispersement of wealth is just that. I believe that one should work for what they want and not be handed to them. Yes, we need government…but I don’t want them to run my life or my business. America was founded on the principle that hard work would have it’s rewards…not, let me work hard so everyone can share in my wealth.
        I do believe that women should have the right to choose…they have to live with the consequences. Should it be paid for by the government…I do not believe so.
        Even though I consider myself a conservative, how can we take one person and say we believe in EVERY thing they believe in..I don’t think it is possible. It’s okay to disagree, that is what makes us human. Just because you do not believe in what I believe does not make your opinion any less important than mine. Please stop the name calling and the disrespect that is plaguing our country. Everyone is entitled to their opinion…and if we listened more maybe just maybe we could find some common ground.

  36. November 5, 2010

    I have neighbors and friends that watch(ed) Fox “News” and the myriad of attack adverts during the local news show and believed their unsubstantiated claims. Some of them are currently unemployed. Others work in elderly care facilities or public schools. They voted against their own interests. They talked to me and wrote to me about socialism and death taxes. I tried to change their minds with facts and references like One response I got was “Girl, you have too much time on your hands.” I pointed out facts, made logical arguments and hoped someone consider and deliberate the info or lack of it that they were presented. I am so dissapointed. I completely agree with your editorial. I am dissapointed at the Democratic Party for their lack of support for Feingold. It wouldn’t have taken much support to make the difference. I would have thought that the next time around Herb Kohl would have been an easier target to take in WI. So does that mean we will end up with 2 Republican Senators at some point? ( I am grateful that I still live in “Kind” Country and not “Kapanke” Country). 4 yrs of a Republican Gov. and 6 yrs of a Republican Senator…I hope we can hold on to our jobs, health insurance and home and get our youngest child successfully through homeschool ad into college on scholarships like his siblings.
    How could Russ Feingold have been voted out of office in a state who’s motto is “FORWARD WISCONSIN!” Bob LaFollette must be turning in his grave and those who have preexisting conditions are likely off to early ones.Why do I feel like it’s” Backwards Wisconsin”? “Backwards Wisconsin” in wages, heathcare, environmental protection, education,civil rights…

  37. Laura permalink
    November 5, 2010

    Hey Wisconsin (and America in general for that matter), some European countries called, they found your critical thinking skills and were wondering if you needed them back.
    Welcome to the 21st century political culture American style. Can you say “MOB RULE”. I wonder if we will start electing our officials via some American idol reality tv show, now thats American. Seriously we are not looking for leaders of integrity we want celebriticians – WE DEMAND TO BE ENTERTAINED AND INSTANTLY GRATIFIED.

  38. S.H. Crane permalink
    November 5, 2010

    The lunacy of our ignorant electorate is frightening. You fucking idiots.

  39. Debbie permalink
    November 5, 2010

    A very good man and an honest politician. Humble, kind and really did care about the “average” person in Wisconsin. I am honored to know him. I met his daughter and she to is such a wonderful person. Thank you Russ for all you have done for Wisconsin.

  40. Julie Stellmacher permalink
    November 5, 2010

    Great article!! Mr. Feingold will be missed.
    After listening to the myriad of election ads, all I can say is Mr. Johnson, you’re going to need to bust a move. You are going to be the new kid on the block-and in keeping with tradition, you will be the last one picked for the team!! Good luck Mr. Oneterm.
    I for one will welcome Russ Feingold back with my vote!!

  41. Jen Pennington permalink
    November 5, 2010

    Forgive us, America. Maybe now he’ll run for president.

  42. JOHN D permalink
    November 5, 2010

    Winston Churchill said it best
    When we are young,we are liberal because we have a heart
    When we get older we are Conservative because we have a brain
    Perhaps it was older voters who defeated Mr Feingold

    • Grant M permalink
      November 7, 2010

      and it’s so sad
      when the old ones
      with a brain
      but no heart

  43. Anonymous permalink
    November 5, 2010

    But where is he on gun control. I think Johnson got the vote for two reasons…
    One, the democrats have really done us dirty lately
    Two, Johnson is NRA backed as pro gun rights.

    • Dave permalink
      November 5, 2010

      Russ Feingold has never swerved from defending the 2nd Amendment and has sided with the NRA many times. Currently, the NRA is a customer-supported marketing association for gun manufacturers, not a defender of individual liberty, and that’s why the NRA backed Johnson.

  44. Frances Duran permalink
    November 5, 2010

    I cannot believe that Wisconsin got it wrong. People are disgusted yes, but there is no easy fix. They just elected and man who has gotten everything handed to him on a silver platter. He married into money. He does not get it. He should walk in my shoes. I have lost everything I have ever worked for. I am poverty level now. At least Russ was on our side. I had faith in the Democratic Party and I still do. God help us with the Republican’s in office. They have no clue about real life. They are just greedy and think they can solve all the problems that they created in the first place.

  45. Brian permalink
    November 5, 2010

    Russ’s loss (and Tom Barret’s) makes me ashamed to live in Wisconsin.

  46. Dave permalink
    November 5, 2010

    Russ Feingold’s loss is a genuine blow for this country, and a big win for dirty money, lies, and threats to liberty. NOBODY in the Senate, ever in my lifetime, cares as much, is as vocal or works as diligently to uphold the individual Constitutional rights of American citizens. I hope he returns to a prominent place in our institutions of government; we need more smart, honest, patriotic leaders and fewer fearmongering, hypocritical, hack politicians.

  47. Glenn Johnson permalink
    November 6, 2010

    Look…I vote for Russ back in the day…back when must of you could not even vote. He did some very good things in his tenure. But two things came to his demise..he became what he said he hated…a career politician…a rubber stamp for party politics, and one that chose to apply the constitutional guarantees and rights on a case by case basis.
    Also, how can his challenger, who has never held office, have a legislative record of supporting anything? It sounds as though you are pissed off that those that cow towed to your way of thinking are no longer in the seat of power…I say very well. The power lies in the hands of each and every citizen of these United States. It comes time to time when those that serve at our will need to be reminded who they serve. Regardless of political persuasion, you serve the people, the country and the constitution..all are equal

    • Grant M permalink
      November 7, 2010

      “The power lies in the hands of each and every citizen of these United States.”

      no, it lies in the hands of those with a really really lot of money, unless we fight them.

  48. Myke permalink
    November 6, 2010

    Only 1 of 2 Senate incumbents 2 bite the dust. He was arrogant,condescending, disrespectful & rude to constituents with different viewpoints & did it 2 himself. He may have cared about terrorist rights, however not one iota about innocent unborn babies. GOOD RIDDANCE & thanks Wisconsin !!!

  49. jonny bottom permalink
    November 6, 2010

    Give thanks to JAH (all Christians & non), for what you hope and have
    Thank-you Russ for readin’ the P-Act, from front to back

    The People of Wisco & the US have got to move on
    What’s done is done now, we all must get along

    The 18 years you served, you meant them all well
    What remains ahead now, is yet to tell

    False promises, arrogance, money & misery
    That is not what I call the ”Land of the Free”

    ……………..listen to Bob Marley ……Thank a Vet & VOTE!

    Thank-You Mr. Feingold for your SERVICE & INTEGRITY

    @ EVERYBODY …….STAY + WISCO…….we’re all Americans

  50. Guy Fawkes permalink
    November 6, 2010

    I just can’t believe everyone is ‘ashamed’ to be from Wisconsin since Feingold was defeated. Though I am a conservative, I have always respected Russ’ career as he seemed to be a genuine politician representing the beliefs of Dane County. Obviously the state is larger than just the Madison area, and as such their votes count as well. Anyways, this rhetoric about ‘we don’t need better politicians as badly as we need better voters’ is maddening. The continious drone from our policiticians about how they are doing what is right and we are too dumb to know it now is the reason that many incumbents were sent home. I believe that the American people are just fed up with legislation (or the lack of it) being passed that they do not agree with. Sure Feingold is a much better representative than probably 90% of congress, I think after 18 years (and a decade of an irrational congress) its time for a change. Whether the cause of Johnson’s election was ” momentary discouragement, or temporary panic, or a fit of enthusiasm for an individual” time will tell whether Johnson ends up representing the state admirably, or ends up like our President has (who was elected in the same manner) in two years with an unfavorable opinion and ineffective role.

  51. FU2Repubs permalink
    November 6, 2010

    All of you Republicans that call yourselve’s conservatives should be ashamed. The Republicans dont stand for saving anyone money unless you are rich. I never seen any fucking republican hand back a pay raise to the government or vote for raising the taxes on the rich. Screw all of you that think elections will bring change to this fucked up country we live in. The first thing that needs to done is to get the big corporations the fuck out of Washington. They run this country and thats how the “conservatives” fucking want it. How come the “liberals” wernt afraid to start tackling the health care system in this country. Now thats all I hear from the repubs is how that is the first thing they want to change. Apparently they have never been without health insurance or never had the insurance company decide their fate. Feingold was one hell of a Senater and Ron Johnson being a business owner will of course do what is best for big business. So much for the “CHANGE” these dumb fucks wanted. To me it sounds like we are just going to go back to the same old shit we had four years ago. WHAAA I want a smaller government so to do that I will pay this private contractor billions of dollars to do the job and blame the deficit on the “liberals”.
    FUCK YOU you dumb fucks that think the Repubicans stand for conservatives. WAKE THE FUCK UP!!!!!!!!!!!!

  52. Rhonda Greenhaw permalink
    November 6, 2010

    Ten Reasons Why Barak Obama Needs a Challenge from the Left in 2012

    The narrative coming out of this last election is that the country is conservative, and that to win, a politician needs to move to the right to stay aligned with the political pulse of the electorate.

    Progressives have been made pariahs, not only from those on the right, but from the media and the Democratic Party establishment. Those on the left don’t even have a seat at the table. The Obama Administration has made it clear that lefties need to sit down and be quiet; and in the meantime, the president has moved the administration and the Democratic Party even more to the right of the centrist position it occupied during Bill Clinton’s tenure in office.

    Few people in politics today are articulating left-of-center positions, and the country is suffering as a result. That is why I believe Barak Obama needs a challenge from the left during the 2012 primary race. Not since Jimmy Carter has a sitting president faced a primary challenge in their bid for re-election. When presidents believe in the certainty of their party’s nomination, straying from the party principles in an attempt to win some mythological middle-ground becomes too tempting.

    Barak Obama has failed to live up to the vision that he alluded to in his campaign – the hope of change. Countless people believed in that vision, and were swept away by an emotional tide on the eve of his election night victory. But that vision has been destroyed by an administration who has embraced not change, but status quo. The health care capitulations, the cozy relationship with Wall Street insiders, the lack of investigation into the crimes of the previous administration, the continuation and extension of Bush era government over-reach on policies such as wire tapping, and the failure to use his executive powers to undo Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, all indicate that this president has little interest in change.

    But we need change now. We are engaged in two wars. The Iraq withdrawal is a farce, and the war in Afghanistan is failing. Our environmental crises have reached a critical mass, peak oil is upon us, and our economic engine has collapsed leaving millions and millions of Americans without a living wage. Progressive policies can create real change that will make a difference in the lives of Americans and the rest of our world as well.

    Here are the top ten reasons why Barak Obama needs a challenge from the left during the 2012 primary election:

    1. A serious contender from the left would allow progressive policies to be on the top of the public agenda – a ticket, such as Russ Feingold/Van Jones would create an almost salacious media ruckus. The media would be tripping over themselves to interview them, providing a much needed platform for progressive policy. Imagine, actual interviews with actual progressives – a forum to talk about the real change that is needed.

    2. A primary challenge that truly embraced left-of-center policy would be a serious threat to the fake populism of the Tea Party movement. The right has set itself up as neo-populists, convincing millions of Americans to vote against their own self interests. Why did that work? Because no one is articulating actual progressive policies that benefit real Americans. Who speaks with a progressive voice these days? Certainly not the Democratic Party or this administration. And because of their failure to do so, Americans, who are suffering as a result of years of policies that move resources from the bottom up, have no where to go. So when the far right comes along articulating a false promise of populism, it resonates with disenfranchised voters who are frustrated with the lack of representation in political decision-making.

    3. And that brings us to number three: for years the Democratic establishment has moved from the left of center to the mind-numbing Republican-lite party that represents the view point of very few Americans. Read the polls – as Michael Moore likes to point out, the majority of Americans are left of where the Democratic establishment is: the majority of Americans wanted a public option, the majority of Americans are pro-choice, against the war – the list goes on and on – and this is after years and years of the media telling us how conservative we are and over a decade of Fox News spewing right-wing propaganda!

    4. A challenge from the left of the Democratic Party would determine once and for all whether progressives should stay or flee from the Democrats. Most progressives I know are conflicted about whether to leave the Democratic Party or build up a third party. I go back and forth on this issue all the time. I have contributed to both the Green Party and to democratic candidates. I am frustrated by the mealy-mouthed, do-nothing-for-the-people Democratic Party. I am also afraid of the inability of a third party to deconstruct this two-party system that is our reality.

    5. Moore also proposed that progressives take over their local Democratic Party. I say, take on the national democratic establishment that has been killing progressive policies for years. Since the defeat of Jimmy Carter, the Democratic Party has been following a narrative that says that progressive populism is dead, and that to win, the Democrats need to be more like Republicans. This has resulted in what we’ve got with the Obama Administration: a Democratic White House, Senate and House who not only did very little for average Americans, but further enriched billionaires with TARP and escalated a war.

    6. Remember the anger that Americans felt towards Wall Street? The administration did nothing to salve that anger, and that has fomented the right. We have allowed Fox News and the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh to speak for average Americans. But a challenge from the left in 2012 would allow true populist policies to be proposed to the American people. How many Americans hold student loan debt – what about debt forgiveness for these Americans? What about proposals that would offer home ownership to those without homes and policies that would go beyond that to actually addressing the real problems of poverty and homelessness in America?We could propose humane immigration policy, ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, decriminalizing marijuana and ending the drug war in Mexico and other South American countries, taxing the rich and using the money to fund a green jobs coalition that would be responsible for retro-fitting ever federal building to 100% green energy.

    7. A challenge from the left would re-invigorate the energy that Barak Obama sapped. Young people and progressives of all ages were truly excited after Barak Obama won. But now, we all feel like Velma Hart, the woman who confronted Barak Obama at a townhall meeting and told him she was exhausted – we’re all exhausted. We wanted real change, but instead we got more of the same. Someone on the left could propose real, radical change that would actually make a difference in the lives of average American.

    8. Having candidates that are actually articulating progressive policies could also energize the 40% of eligible Americans who don’t vote. The speculation is that people don’t vote because they are lazy or uninformed. I suspect that the actual reason is closer to this: people don’t vote because they don’t believe that politicians can make a difference in their lives. A progressive ticket challenging the president in the primary could get their attention.

    9. Having a challenge from the left will combat the lies that the right have been telling the American people about progressive policies. For too long, the right has been able to dominate public discourse, and they have used their forum to lie to the American people. They have convinced them that labor unions are bad for workers, that taxation is antithetical to freedom, that global warming isn’t real, and that we must wage war rather than work for peace.

    10. But most of all, having a primary challenge from the left can lead to the coalescing of the disparate left that has always been so elusive. I think the time is now for this. We who are on the left really have a clear sense of who we are: we are pro-gay rights, pro-peace, pro-environmentalism, pro-education, pro-healthcare, pro-social justice. We are united in our opposition to the threat from theocratic-bent, right-wing, anti-choice conservatives whose real mission is to disenfranchise more and more people while they enrich themselves. We understand that really wealthy people need to contribute more to their country, and that our democratic traditions in the United States are in mortal danger if we do nothing.

    So, what do you say, Russ Feingold? The establishment in the Democratic Party did nothing for you, and that cost you your senate seat. They threw Van Jones under the bus, too. A Feingold/Jones ticket would represent the green-progressive-peace tradition that is waiting to support you.

    –rhonda j. greenhaw lives on a farm in rural wisconsin. born and raised in flint, michigan, she is depressed regularly by former union members who walked the picket line being seduced by right-wing sophists.

  53. Grondo permalink
    November 6, 2010

    I’ve been thinking – maybe every ballot should start with a simple 5- or 10-question civics quiz. It wouldn’t have to be very hard, even. Just something to establish a (rather low) baseline of awareness of how our democracy actually works.

    Then, if there were too many wrong answers, the ballot would be excluded. This would effectively weed out a large number of voters whose curiosity extends no further than the latest scare ad they saw during “Judge Judy”.

    It would be totally fair, unlike the old poll taxes, since anyone, regardless of wealth or nationality, could garner the information just by caring enough to listen in 9th-grade history class. And it wouldn’t prevent anyone from voting, like the Republican vote-cadging scams do, so no one could cry foul. It would only weed out the ignoramuses and lazy slobs.

    • Margaret Murphy permalink
      November 6, 2010

      What ever makes you think that the president has said anything to progressives. What
      He has done is end a war,pass the first health reform act in history,continue unemployment compensation and allow women to earn an honest wage. If anyone thought he could or should have undone all the damage that the wealthy-Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas is a major contributor to the Republican Party-they haven.t been paying attention to the major players. I think, much to my dismay, that this country is now in serious danger-not from Mr.

      Obama, but from the foolish and uninformed voters and the foolish and uninformed non voters have created the dangerous situation we will soon be in.

  54. tom permalink
    November 8, 2010

    haha, first favre, then feingold. some weird masochist stuff going on there

  55. Jenett permalink
    November 8, 2010

    Feingold was outspent $8/$1?

    If there is any one thing that *demands* campaign finance reform, it’s the loss of Russ Feingold. McCain had to go all stupid or I would have voted for him for president. I’m starting to think that I’m going to refuse to vote for anyone that doesn’t support getting the money out of politics.

    I’m getting tired of the plutocracy.

  56. November 9, 2010

    I voted for him every time. Russ is an especially able person. I hope he comes home to WI, we need all the reasonable, intelligent people we can find- considering who WI elected. Ron Johnson remember that you represents ME- better protect my rights, Ron, or you’ll hear some of the comments mentioned above. I didn’t have to worry/think about this with Russ on the job. Russ, I’ll vote for you again…in a heartbeat!
    welcome home Russ

  57. November 9, 2010

    I recommend the discussion about the Big Lie that led to Fiengold’s defeat at the following

  58. colin permalink
    December 11, 2010

    Wow. That was a great article.

  59. Marcelino permalink
    January 26, 2011

    *It�s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you�re talking about! Thanks

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