Mass Revolution Now!

Another member of Massachusetts’ reality based community. Maybe honesty IS the best policy.

March 15, 2006

Russ Is Right On Track

by @ 12:01 pm. Filed under Democrats, National, Election '06, Russ Feingold

I would like to take on some of assertions about Sen. Feingold’s recent call for censure made over at Idealism Without Illusions. First, Wisconsin is not increasingly unfriendly to Democrats. The Dems have carried the state in presidential elections for the last 4 cycles which means they supported Clinton twice as well as the losers Gore and Kerry. Second, after 20 years (16 of which belong to the horrible Tommy Thomson) they elected a Democrat, Jim Doyle. There is real misperception about the conservatism in the Midwest. Russ wins in Wisconsin because he speaks a language that makes sense, he is progressive and practical and that is why he keeps being sent back. Wisconsin is a more progressive feeling state in some ways than Massachusetts, they just don’t flaunt this fact.

Next I would like to challenge the premise that somehow this move is bad politically. Yes, the national party is up and arms and yes most of the pundits seem to be scratching their heads but they don’t speak for the people. Every single poll out there shows the country’s tremendous dissatisfaction with the way this country is moving. And they aren’t just mad about their jobs or their wallets being lighter. These issues are important to be sure but I am sure Ben, as an admirer of JFK, can appreciate the fact that people are also yearning for something bigger, something more than just boring, wonky policy ideas. What Feingold is offering is the beginning of a vision for something better. First, Feingold is recognizing that democracy must be built on accountability. Our system of checks and balances is indicative of this fact. President Bush has declared through his policy positions and his actions that certain laws are not to apply during the “war on terrorism.” Our system requires that such legal interpretations be supported by the judicial branch, they cannot be determined by a president. The people know that Bush as done something wrong, that is why his public support is evaporating. The censure resolution is a “down the middle” approach that checks the president without creating a power play environment like existed during the Clinton years. The censure in no way jeopardizes Bush’s presidency nor does it put this country into a constitutional crisis. It does however protect our constitution by using a show of force from branch of government in protecting its ground.

The last objection, and for my the strongest objection, is the assertion is that Feingold is a “guy taking a walk.” The implication is that leadership is seeing which direction the pack is running and then simply jumping in front. That has been the way of the Democracts for years and we have seen to what success. Leadership is weighing the facts, making the best choice based on the information available and charting a course. This is exactly what Sen. Feingold has done. He showed this leadership on the Patriot Act (and yes, there were leaders in the House, too, kudos to them). After every other senator voted for the Act, Feingold knew that there were significant lapses in security contained in the bill so he voted against the Act. That is leadership, not a guy walking alone.

The one thing Republicans deserve a lot of credit for is leadership. I don’t believe in the narrow minded focus Bush and his buddies have, the down with the ship mentality they have, but when they believe, they lead. Bush is dead wrong on wiretapping. He is dead wrong on Iraq. He is dead wrong on Social Security and Medicare. He has lied to the American people. I do not think censuring the President for the flagrant abuses of power is a bad political move. I think it is the smartest move offered yet. If we spend all of our time making concessions people will have no clue where we stand. If Ben Nelson is afraid of holding people accountable then maybe he needs to find another party because if we as Democrats can’t agree on accountability as a good issue to pursue we are more lost than I thought.

Update: Despite the fact that the AP, among others, is reporting that no one is supporting Feingold, it turns out that Sens. Chaffee and Harkin are in favor of the resolution.  I also got an email from, apparently they have had 200,000 people since yesterday afternoon sign a petition in favor of resolution.  Maybe the politics aren’t all bad afterall.

One Response to “Russ Is Right On Track”

  1. Ben Says:

    Andy … just a couple points to clarify. On the Wisconsion note I obviously defer to you, what I meant to say was that Wisconsin isn’t a lock for Dems, it was closer in 2004, I believe, than in 2000 and as far as I can tell thats been a trend. Not saying that can’t win there, obviously Feingold proves that.

    On the “guy taking a walk” thats not meant as a shot at Feingold, but I think leadership is more than about JUST standing up. I think leadership is about bringing people together and then moving forward. Principled stands matter, but they matter more and have more weight if they have more backing.

    And I do agree that censure is a good middle ground overall, but not within the Congress, which is the key. I wholeheartedly agree that a majority of Americans, if it was framed correctly, would support censure. But I am 100% confident that nowhere near a majority of the Senate or the House would.

    Most important to all this, in my mind, is that this is a disgareement over strategy. We all know Bush lied, we all know he broke the law, this debate isn’t about that, its about the best way to move forward from that.

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