So long, and thanks for all the hits...
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!
Daniel R. Kuehnert