My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:
Although the choices at the top of the November ballot are truly a basket of deplorables, there are some easy choices further down the ballot. Sen. Ron Johnson has earned a second term, and Russ Feingold has certainly not made the case for himself.
As the adage goes, past performance is the best predictor of future performance. If that is the case, then a fourth term for Feingold would be wretched for the people of Wisconsin. After spending 10 years warming a seat in the Wisconsin State Senate, Feingold was elevated by the voters to do the same for 18 years in the U.S. Senate.
During Feingold’s almost two decades representing Wisconsin in Washington, he accomplished very little. His name is attached to one legislative achievement that was an affront to free speech. The McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Law was an assault on free speech that was eventually ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The single legislative accomplishment of the self-described champion of civil rights was a law that was thrown out for violating civil rights.
When Feingold wasn’t spending his time hobnobbing with elites and enjoying the perks of being in the most exclusive club in the world, he was being one of the most loyal votes for the Democratic leadership. Feingold voted to continue partial birth abortions.
He voted against notifying parents when their kids get an abortion out of state. He voted for President Barack Obama’s trillion dollar stimulus package that only stimulated Democratic constituents. He voted against education savings accounts, against medical savings accounts, against Roth IRAs, against personal retirement accounts, against school vouchers for D.C., against ending the death tax, against voluntary prayer in schools, against energy expansion in the U.S., for sanctuary cities for illegal aliens, for illegal aliens to receive Social Security and, of course, for Obamacare.
Since being ousted from office six years ago, an act that many attribute to his zealous support for Obamacare, Feingold has slid further into disrepute. He has completely reversed himself on his promise to fund his campaign primarily from Wisconsinites. In fact, almost 70 percent of Feingold’s campaign funds comes from out-of-state people and organizations.
Feingold has also used his PAC as a personal slush fund. Immediately after losing to Johnson in 2010, Feingold launched his Progressives United PAC with the stated goal of supporting progressive candidates in Wisconsin and elsewhere. As he fleeced donors for cash with the promise to support liberal causes, he actually spent a full 95 percent of the money on himself, his friends and on raising more money. A charity that only spent 5 percent of its proceeds on its stated goal would be rightfully dragged through the media for its deceptive marketing and immoral management.
Meanwhile, Johnson has accomplished more in a single term in the senate than Feingold did in three. In fact, a Hloom study that evaluated the productivity of all senators ranked Johnson as the absolute most productive senator. Johnson was selected as chairman of the hugely important Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. From this position, Johnson has been at the forefront of some of our nation’s most important issues. (It is also telling that in 18 years in the Senate, Feingold’s colleagues had so little respect for him that he was never selected to chair any committee.) But Johnson’s service specifically to the citizens of Wisconsin perhaps outweighs even his influence on national issues. He and his staff have been incredibly responsive to helping constituents navigate the federal government and resolve issues. One of those constituents was the whistleblower who reported incredible abuses taking place at the Tomah VA facility. Despite these reports being ignored by Feingold when he was in office and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Johnson and his staff sprang into action. Johnson’s committee investigated the allegations and released a 350-page report detailing the rampant and systematic abuses at the VA, spurring action by government officials for reform.
Johnson has also been personally working on some of Wisconsin’s most pressing problems. Johnson and his staff have been working with the Rev. Jerome Smith in Milwaukee’s inner city on the Joseph Project, which was started to help the city’s poorest black residents find and keep gainful employment. The project has helped at least 80 people find jobs paying $12.80 and more through direct, personal involvement. One person at a time. Person to person. With this project alone, Johnson has done more to solve Milwaukee’s most difficult problems than Feingold did in nearly 30 years of elected office.
Johnson has been one of the most productive, thoughtful, problem-solving and effective senators that Wisconsin has ever had. He is facing a challenge from a political retread with a record of only leaving the backbench to grow government and quash civil rights. It is an easy choice. Vote for Ron Johnson.