My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here it is:
In what is going to be a fascinating rematch to watch, Russ Feingold announced last week that he is running for United State Senate against the upstart who defeated him five years ago, Sen. Ron Johnson. The political landscape is very different from the last time Feingold asked the voters for their votes, but he is still the same doctrinaire liberal.
Since Feingold was cast out of the Senate after 18 years in the anti-Obamacare Republican wave of 2010, he has been preparing to run again. He formed a liberal Political Action Committee called Progressives United, which collected money, fueled some liberal causes and will now become an arm of his campaign for Senate. He then took an excessively noncontroversial position as a special envoy to Africa, which allowed him to stay out of the political fray and avoid getting on the wrong side of sticky issues.
Now Feingold has a lot of money and has been largely out of the public eye for half a decade. This allows him an opportunity to reintroduce himself to Wisconsin’s voters. Let us remember who Feingold is and what kind of senator he was.
Feingold represented Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate for 18 years. There are two remarkable things about his tenure. The first thing is just how inconsequential he was. Hailing from a state that has elected some senators who made a mark like Robert LaFollette, William Proxmire, Gaylord Nelson and, yes, even Joe McCarthy, Feingold’s tenure is easily forgotten.
During Feingold’s 18-year tenure, he is remembered for only one piece of legislation — the McCain-Feingold law that put severe restrictions on constitutionally protected speech. Much of that law was struck down by the Supreme Court as a violation of the First Amendment. It is a touch ironic that Feingold, who likes to advertise himself as a champion of civil rights, was the author of a law that was struck down for violating civil rights.
But the reason that Feingold’s lengthy tenure was so undistinguished is because he is so incredibly liberal. Russ Feingold calls himself a “progressive,” which is the more politically correct, but less honest, than “socialist.” During his time in the Senate, Feingold was so far to the left that he couldn’t even get a majority of his fellow Democrats to support his ideas.
For example, Feingold voted against banning partial birth abortions and against notifying parents of minors who get an abortion out of state. He voted in favor of the trillion-dollar stimulus package and for Obamacare. In fact, his championing of Obamacare is what is widely viewed as the reason for losing re-election.
Feingold voted against education savings accounts, medical saving accounts, Roth IRAs and personal retirement accounts. He voted against school vouchers for the District of Columbia. He voted against voluntary prayer in schools. He has repeatedly voted for various bans and restrictions on oil drilling and for factoring global warming into federal project planning. Senator Feingold supported using the power of eminent domain for parks and grazing land and the Cash for Clunkers program. He voted to support sanctuary cities and to allow illegal aliens to take Social Security.
As our senator, Feingold voted against repealing the death tax and the alternative minimum tax. He voted for higher taxes on capital gains and dividends. He voted for dozens of tax increases and opposed virtually every effort to reduce taxes.
I could go on into next week’s column, but you get the picture. Feingold was, and is, a true-blue, hardcore liberal. Wisconsin already has one ineffectual liberal Senator. We surely do not need a second one.