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Amid all the disappointment of last night’s election results (though with a few surprise victories for Democrats), the one that is the hardest to swallow was the defeat of the great progressive Senator from Wisconsin, Russ Feingold. Feingold was one of the few legislators that seemed to really stand for his progressive values and beliefs, regardless of what it cost him.
Feingold was the only U.S. Senator that voted against the unconstitutional Patriot Act signed in the days after September 11th, when it was very unpopular and damaging to vote against the legislation. In the 90’s, he was one of the few Senators that stood against the leader of his own party, Clinton, with Clinton’s ideas of deregulation on the market, a trend that helped lead to the most recent recession. He also stood up to the President on his idea of NAFTA, which many argue has done great harm to workers on both sides of the border. He was the Senator who joined alongside Senator John McCain to pass campaign finance reform (which unfortunately was ruled unconstitutional by the absurd and undemocratic ruling of the Supreme Court).
Feingold can go out proud, knowing that he stood by his principles, even when they were extremely unpopular. Unfortunately, the man who defeated him, Ron Johnson, is an unqualified millionaire who somehow was able to sweep to victory in the craziness which was this past election. He chooses to ignore climate change, supports the same trickledown economics which have done nothing but enrich the wealthy and hurt everyone else, and counts Atlas Shrugged as his guiding philosophical book.
The U.S. needs Senators like Russ Feingold; we lost a great and important progressive voice in the Senate. He was the one few legislators that actually makes me reconsider the need for term limits. My hope is that other legislators will take up on the legacy that he left and stand for what is best for the common man, the worker, the immigrant, and the oppressed. Feingold has a left a brilliant example in doing that.