Why not Feingold?

Story by Alex Zank, Chief Copy Editor

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For me, this weekend was so much better than just Homecoming, Oktoberfest, and a Packers victory. On Sept. 28 there was also a debate between Governor Tommy Thompson and Representative Tammy Baldwin that aired on TV. And after watching it, I have firmly decided who I would like to support. The problem is, it is neither one of the candidates. In fact, he’s not on the ballot at all.

This may seem most irregular, but after feeling complete dissatisfaction with the debate, my heart now longs for a true representative of the state. But he’s too busy fighting corporate interests and defending the
common people to bother running again. This man, of course, is Russ Feingold.

Before this weekend, I was truly undecided on which candidate I would support this November to be our newest senator. In an age of gridlock in the U.S. Senate, and big issues like the fiscal cliff and campaign finance reform to worry about this year, what is needed is someone who would be willing to compromise and stand up for the values held by the great state of Wisconsin. These two candidates just did not do this.

Alternatively, based on his record and what he stands for — both as a senator and now as a champion of the people — Russ Feingold looks as fit as ever to be our senator.

But first, let’s discuss why the other two are not fit for the job.

Here’s why it’s a no-go for Thompson:

When discussing the fiscal cliff, he actually said that if something is not done, we run a good risk of causing a recession. I was so impressed that he did not resort to a Tea Party line of “cut spending, cut taxes,” followed by something about guns and UN black helicopters. But, as soon as he said there needs to be a balanced budget amendment, I knew he was putting good politics over good policy. A balanced budget amendment is, simply put, a fiscally atrocious idea.

He is also a staunch supporter of Medicare Part D, a money-gobbling pig of a program. Don’t get me wrong, I like what it does, but it was passed without any source of revenue being generated to counteract its high costs. Now it is becoming a serious problem; it is a prime example of bad fiscal policy.

Here’s why Baldwin did not do it either:

Baldwin touted typical Democratic Party lines to a degree that rivaled, and probably surpassed, Thompson’s use of Republican Party rhetoric. I agree with her on many things, but she really did not convince me that she could successfully reach across the aisle to compromise on anything (and judging by her performance, I don’t know if she convinced anyone of anything that night).The examples she gave of bipartisanship were non-controversial bills and issues that do not exemplify what compromise truly is.

I would like Baldwin if I knew she would be part of a senate supermajority, but that is incredibly unlikely to happen. Someone with greater ability to compromise and be legislatively productive is what we really need.

That’s where Feingold comes in. He is the embodiment of what Wisconsin is all about. He was the only one in the senate to vote against the Patriot Act, and he also voted against the war in Iraq. This shows he has the ability to make the tough decisions without putting his re-election needs first. He has also compromised on issues not only through voting but with drafting legislation.

A grand example of this is the McCain-Feingold Act. One of the most important issues we could possibly be facing as a nation is the way we fund political campaigns. Nothing at the moment is more detrimental to democracy than this topic. Feingold knows this, and that’s why he is still fighting Citizens United and corporate sponsorship of elections.

The bottom line is this: in a time of polarization in every level of government, this state needs someone who can stay above the fray and kick some legislative butt. This requires solid experience, dedication and the personification of what Wisconsin stands for. That person is Russ Feingold.

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