Missouri for Feingold

Draft Russ Feingold for President in 2008

Sunday, November 12, 2006

So long, and thanks for all the hits...

Cross posted from my other Feingold blog

As you have probably heard by now, Senator Feingold has decided not to run for President. You can read his statement here and a good article about it here.

As many of you can guess, I'm pretty disappointed by this. As my last real blog post made clear, supporting Russ Feingold wasn't just about the war, or civil liberties, or fair trade, or campaign finance reform, as much as I care about those issues. It was about who Russ Feingold was. Despite being a legislator in the (until last Tuesday!) minority party, he is a leader. He is a man of vision, courage, and integrity.

Simply put, the reason I worked as hard for him as I did wasn't just that I liked his positions. It's becuase I knew that, if elected, he would not let me down. That's a pretty rare quality for a leader. Honestly, in my lifetime I can only think of a few other individuals I could say that about, and they are mostly either dead (Senators Paul Simon and Paul Wellstone, Governor Mel Carnahan) or fictional characters (President Josiah Bartlet, Captain Jean-Luc Picard).

Who's left that's alive and real? No one who might run. Bill Bradley seems to be done with politics. Howard Dean has promised he won't run since he's DNC Chair. Dick Durbin seems to think the other senator from Illinois is better suited for the Oval Office than he is.

So, yeah I'm disappointed. I wanted someone to run who I knew wouldn't let me down.

And I wanted someone who would challenge the conventional wisdom.

I was born nine months after Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, and it seems like Reagan has defined the entire political landscape for the whole time I've been alive. Government is bad. Politicians can't be trusted. America can't solve it's domestic problems, so just ignore them. The suffering of your fellow Americans doesn't matter. That's the Reagan-Bush philosophy, and somedays it feels like it's been tacitly accepted by too many Americans.

And when Democrats nominate moderate candidates, they don't challenge that philosophy. Moderate Democrats are definitely better than Republicans, but they aren't going to achieve the goal I want. The goal I want is greater than getting the U.S. out of Iraq. The goal I want is greater than raising the minimum wage. The goal I want is greater than preserving our civil liberties.

What I want to see is a New Progressive Era in American politics. Let's challenge those Reagan-Bush assumptions. Let's get Americans to believe in themselves and their government again. Let's apply all our abilities to solving the problems facing this nation.

So, I can't say I'm excited by the prospect of hearing the Democratic candidates talk about their programs for tax credits for job creation. Yes, that's a good thing...but it's not big enough. And as the great architect Daniel Burnham once said, "Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood, and probably will not be themselves realized."

Russ Feingold's campaign would have had the magic that would stir men's blood. Russ Feingold's campaign could have led to a New Progressive Era.

Win or lose, Russ Feingold's campaign would have, in the words of Leo McGarry, "raise[d] the level of public debate in this country, and let that be [it's] legacy."

But it's not to be.

I could say good things about all of the remaining potential 2008 Democratic candidates. And I could say bad things about all of them. Instead, I'll say nothing. For now, I'm just a spectator in that race. Perhaps, somebody will suprise me. Perhaps, the conventional wisdom will still be flouted. I hope so.

So that's pretty much it.

Except for this. The title of this post isn't just because I thought it would be fun to put a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference in here. I mean it.

Thank you to everyone who has read this blog; especially those who read it regularly. It meant so much to me to know I wasn't alone. And especially those who went on to start their own Feingold blogs or sites; especially ilya s., fitzy, and the whole RunRussRun.com steering committee. Thanks to Tony Palmeri and Roger Simon, for giving me the chance to see my name in the paper. And thanks to my friends and family who read this, and were still willing to admit they knew me.

I'm kicking around the idea of maybe starting another political blog. Not for a candidate, just for my thoughts. I might do that after Thanksgiving, or after my finals. I hope you folks will check it out if I do.

So, farewell, fellow Feingold fans. I guess we won't be going Forward with Feingold after all...but I hope you all keep doing whatever you can to move America Forward!

Best Wishes,

Daniel R. Kuehnert

Friday, November 10, 2006

Taking Back Harry's Other Seat

First off, a little apology to anyone who has stopped by here in the past couple of months, hoping that I'd finally gotten around to updating this blog. It was hard to find the time, and I felt that, given the intensity of the Senate race and the Stem Cell Amendment race, it would be difficult to keep this up to date on the 2006 races, and no one much was thinking about the 2008 races.

Fortunately, those 2006 races turned out pretty darn good for progressives in Missouri: the Stem Cell measure passed, the minimum wage was hiked, and Jim Talent was told to take a hike! Pretty exciting stuff, but it is just the beginning...

Throughout this campaign, Senator-elect McCaskill talked about the importance of the Democrats taking back Harry Truman's senate seat. Now it's time to focus on taking back Harry Truman's other seat: the one in the Oval Office.

And who better to take it back than Russ Feingold? Like Harry Truman, Russ Feingold has the vision to use the White House to fight for universal health care and other measures that will make the economy work for everybody. Like Harry Truman, Russ Feingold has the courage to stand up to the Republicans and tell the truth the American people. Like Harry Truman, Russ Feingold has the integrity to do what he thinks is right no matter what the polls or the pundits thinks.

Missouri will be the key to the Democrats taking back the White House in 2008. In the past century it has voted for the winner of the Presidential election every time except 1956. So, let's start laying the groundwork for winning Missouri for Russ Feingold!

To get more involved, go to RunRussRun.com, and if you'd like to help work on the Missouri for Feingold blog, just send me an email, I'd appreciate the help!

Why Not the Best?: A Rededication

Crossposted from my other Russ blog...

I’ve been working on this blog for about 23 months now. I haven’t been able to work on it regularly. It’s been difficult to fit in at times, first with my job, and now with law school. But I’ve tried to keep it up, and I’ve encouraged others to start their own Feingold blogs and websites. Now, I want to explain to readers new and old why, exactly, I’ve been blogging in support of a dark horse candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination since December of 2004.

I could begin my story back when I first started the blog. Or earlier than that, back in 1999, when I first heard about Senator Feingold and his campaign finance reform efforts. But I think the story actually begins earlier than that. It begins one day when I was in study hall in high school.

I liked to spend study hall in the library, so if I got bored with my homework I could look at the books. I especially liked looking at the biographies, and one day, I don’t remember when, I came across a paperback copy of Jimmy Carter’s 1976 campaign autobiography: “Why Not the Best?” I don’t know if I ever read the whole book, and I don’t remember much about it, but the title always stuck in my head. I think it is the only question people should ask when choosing their leaders: “Why not the best?”

And that’s why I was disappointed after Election Day 2004, when all the talking heads began chattering about possible 2008 Democratic candidates. They described various candidates in terms of their name recognition, their fundraising, and their perceived electability. But nobody talked about why these potential candidates make be good presidents. Nobody seemed to be asking the question “Why not the best?”

And that’s a problem because no matter how important it may be for obtaining the office, being President of the United States is not about courting big donors. Being President of the United States is not about being all things to all people. Being President of the United States is not about being able to get 50.1% of the vote in a swing state.

Being President of the United States is about vision. It’s about courage. It’s about integrity. It requires the best. And that is why I’ve been blogging in support of Senator Feingold for 23 months. Because he has what it takes to not only be elected president, but to be a great president.


Senator Feingold was one of less than two dozen senators who had the vision to vote against going to war in Iraq. And He was the only senator to see the danger in giving President Bush everything he wanted in the PATRIOT Act. Senator Feingold has a vision of an America that protects itself from terrorists while also protecting the liberties that have defined the United States the land of the free.

Senator Feingold had the foresight to oppose corporate-friendly “free trade” agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA that have hurt workers here and in our neighboring countries. And Senator Feingold has a vision of creating a global economy that works for everyone.

As soon as Senator Feingold arrived in Washington, D.C., he saw the stranglehold that big donors and lobbyists had on the political process. And he has constantly worked to fight for campaign finance and lobbying reform. Senator Feingold has a vision of an America where the government works for the public interest, not the special interests.


Senator Feingold was alone in the Senate, opposing the PATRIOT Act. He was in a small minority in the Senate, opposing the Iraq War. He was the first senator to propose censuring President Bush because of his illegal wiretapping program. Senator Feingold has not been afraid to stand up to an Administration that is willing to stop at nothing to destroy those who oppose it; as Max Cleland and John Kerry can attest to.

Of course, the pundits wrote Senator Feingold off because of his courage. They thought it was “political suicide” to oppose the PATRIOT Act and the war. Well, Senator Feingold has survived “political suicide” so many times, he must have more lives than a cat. In 2004, Senator Feingold was reelected by his largest margin of victory: the people of Wisconsin know courage when they see it.

And courage doesn’t just mean standing up the Republicans, it requires standing up to members of his own party when he disagrees with them. Senator Feingold angered Tom Daschle as much as George Bush when he stood up to speak out against the PATRIOT Act. Senator Feingold was the only Democratic senator to vote against dismissing the impeachment charges against President Clinton without hearing the evidence first. That move didn’t win him many friends in his own party, but he thought it was the right thing to do…and that leads to…


Senator Feingold has won the respect of his Republican colleagues like Orrin Hatch and John McCain by being a man of integrity; staying true to his word and his principles. In 1998, when he ran for reelection, he refused to let the Democratic Party spend soft money for him, instead following the rules he proposed in a campaign finance bill that had not yet passed. Senator Feingold will not accept a pay raise during his six-year term, instead returning the money to the U.S. Treasury. And that is but one of five promises Senator Feingold made to the people of Wisconsin on his garage door in 1991, and has kept ever since then.

I know that to some people it is not enough that Senator Feingold would be a great president. It is not enough that he is a man of vision, courage and integrity. All they care about is one question: will he win?

I don’t know. I don’t possess a crystal ball, a deck of tarot cards, a time machine, or any other device that allows me to see the future. But I think he can win.

I think he can win because he has been elected to the Senate three-times from the Midwestern swing state of Wisconsin-the most average state in the nation according to a recent study-and he won it in 2004 with a much large percentage of the vote than John Kerry received.

I think he can win because Election Day 2006 saw dozens of victories for Democratic candidates who share Senator Feingold’s values of fighting terrorism while protecting civil liberties; of making the global economy work for everybody; and of making the government work for the public interest, not the special interests.

And I think he can win because I believe Americans are tired of voting out of fear. Republicans win by feeding on our fears of the worst that could happen. But Americans rejected that on Tuesday. Americans want to vote for something, and they want to vote for the best. They want to vote for a man of vision, courage, and integrity who will spend everyday he’s in office working for the public interest.

And that’s why I’ve been running this blog for 23 months.

Because I believe Americans want the best, and I believe it is the duty of the Democratic Party to offer it to them.

And because I still firmly believe, as I wrote over a year ago, that working together we, the people of the United States of America, can move our country and the world forward towards new horizons of opportunity, justice and peace.

So, once again, I say: Let’s go forward together! Let’s go forward with Feingold!