Friday, June 15, 2007

My new blog

I finally decided to start a new blog. It's called Still Going Forward and can be found here. I hope anyone who is still visiting here or just stumble across this place will check it out.

Thank you.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

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 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


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Why Not the Best?: A Rededication

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!


Run, Russ, Run!: Taking it to the Next Level

Well, Election Day has come and gone, and what a day it was! I'll blog some more about that soon, and what I think it means for the Feingold for President movement.

Meanwhile, WFRV in Green Bay has a report on Senator Feingold's response to the election:

Sen. Russ Feingold said he's closer to making a decision on a presidential racefollowing this week's congressional elections, but still hasn't decided if theelection results have made him more or less likely to run for president.

Meanwhile, a great group of Feingold for President grassrooters has formed a wonderful new website to help make Senator Feingold's decision a little bit easier. The site is called If you want to find out more about it, the initial diary that launched it follows:

Announcing RussForPresident 3.0
by hoose, Thu Nov 09, 2006 at 10:25:13 AM

There have been a lot of posts in a lot of places mentioning vague developments for the "Draft Russ Feingold" movement in the near future. Well,it's November 9th, we own the Congress, and "Daffy" Donald Rumsfeld is an unpleasant memory. In other words the future is here.

Click here to beat the crowd and sign up at

We're very pleased to announce the launch of, which replaces as the national headquarters of the Draft Feingold for President movement.

Click here to sign up at

The new site was developed by Internet activists from 16 states and 5 national constituency groups. We looked very carefully at what worked and what didn't in our state-level organizations, our former national site, and previous presidential draft movements. Emerging technology helped us solve most of the problems we saw, emphasize what worked best, and open up what we think is a new kind of site for on-line activism.

Click here to sign up at gives members access to a wide array of services including:a customized activism road map, interaction with other members across the country, and direct access to free tools for building local and state-level groups and activities. It also features up-to-the-minute news from the Feingold for President state and community blogs, discussion forums, and an option to pledge donations to a future Feingold presidential campaign.

The effort to convince Senator Feingold to make a presidential run traces back to December, 2004 when the first Russ Feingold for President blog was started by current Washington University law student Daniel Kuehnert. Since then, the effort has grown to include 16 state blogs and numerous nationwide sites, including, which was founded in February 2005 by University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point student Matthew Wallock. Steering Committee member, Minnesota resident and political activist Joel Clemmer, says "The movement has grown tremendously and needs a new face for the final push. Our goal over the next few months is to double our membership and bring at least five more states on line."

Add your voice to the movement: sign up at today.

Run, Russ, Run! Let's go Forward with Feingold!


Friday, November 03, 2006

Three Days to Go

As you probably guessed from the lack of updates, I've found the second year of law school provides no more opportunities for free time (and therefore blogging time) than the first year...actually it seems like less, if that's possible. I wish I had the time over the past few months to update this blog with the latest in Feingold related news, and I hope that in the weeks to come I'll have some exciting Feingold for President stuff to blog about.

But none of that matters now. Now, we only have three days to go until election day 2006, and until that's done 2008 presidential race speculation is definitely on the backburner.

It looks like these midterms will be pretty exciting for the Democrats, but we shouldn't take anything for granted. So, my simple plea is this: spend the next three days doing whatever you can to help Democratic candidates and progressive causes in the upcoming election. If that's giving money, great! If it's volunteering, even better! And if it's just making sure that you and your friends and family get out and vote Democratic on Tuesday, well that's more than enough!

No matter where you are, I'm sure you can find a Democratic cause worth your time. If you still need to find one check out: the Progressive Patriots Fund, the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Governors Association.

Let's get out there and win this thing. And let's make it a big win, so we can move this country forward...whether President Bush wants to go there or not.

My irregular and not nearly scheduled Feingold for President blogging will resume after Election Day.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Letter to Molly Ivins

First off, a little bit of good news: the Progressive Patriots Fund met their fundraising goal and will be able to hire five more Patriot Corps field organizers, increasing the number of campaigns the organizers can help to 20! Thanks to everyone who donated money so this could happen!

Molly Ivins: Molly Ivins is one of the leading liberal columnists in America today, has been one of my favorite political columnists for years now. I especially enjoyed the outrage her columns would generate in the Letters to the Editor in the Chicago Tribune; when I was in Chicago it seemed like nothing upset the Trib's conservative readers more than Molly Ivins and "The Boondocks", which was just one more reason to love them.

Anyway, I was disappointed by this recent column by Ms. Ivins saying that Democrats should run Bill Moyers for president, because all the current potential candidates are centrists who lack spine. (The idea got support from another of my favorite columnists, John Nichols, whom I will always be grateful to for mentioning this blog in a column only days after I created it.)

Now, I admire Bill Moyers but it seems to me that there is already an intelligent, courageous, progressive possible candidate out there: Senator Feingold! And he's already got a growing grassroots movement behind him. So, I wrote this letter to Ms. Ivins. If you feel obliged to writing to her, too, you can do so here. I'll let you know what, if any, response I get to this.

Dear Ms. Ivins,

I’ve been a fan of yours for years, but I was rather confused by your recent column advocating a Bill Moyers for President movement. I am not confused by your admiration for Mr. Moyers, in fact, I share it. However, I question the need for progressive Democrats to toss Mr. Moyers’ hat in the ring when there is already an intelligent, honest, and progressive potential candidate with a growing grassroots movement behind him: Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.

You dismiss all the possible Democratic candidates as triangulators and state that “Every single one of them needs spine, needs political courage.” Those statements are flat-out wrong with respect to Senator Feingold. Far from being Republican-lite, Senator Feingold has consistently throughout his fourteen year senate career stood up for civil liberties, universal health care, fair trade agreements, the environment, and damn near every other progressive cause out there. On the issues where he has differed from his progressive supporters (mainly confirmation votes for presidential appointees) it has never been out a need to “triangulate” or “move to the center” but rather because the votes reflected his principles.

And as for needing a spine, I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that Senator Feingold was the lone senator to oppose the USA PATRIOT Act and that he opposed the Iraq War resolution…and that after all that, he won reelection in Wisconsin in 2004 by his largest margin of victory. He was the first senator to introduce a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq and he has been the most consistent critic of the Bush Administration’s abuses of power.

While both Mr. Moyers and Senator Feingold are progressives with reputations for courage and integrity there is one thing Senator Feingold has that Mr. Moyers doesn’t: a network of energized grassroots activists ready to support him. In December 2004 I started a Russ Feingold for President blog. I expected to be alone. I’m not. There are numerous pro-Feingold websites out there, including fifteen state blogs written by Feingold supporters in states ranging from New Jersey to Texas and everywhere in between. Hundreds of people have signed up for Feingold listservs. In the fist half of 2006 Senator Feingold’s PAC raised over two million dollars…62% of that came from individuals giving less than $200 (i.e. average people). Those are just a few reflections of the growing support Senator Feingold has among grassroots Democrats.

I respect you and Bill Moyers tremendously. I agree with you when you write “I’m damned if I want to go through another presidential primary with everyone trying to figure out who has the best chance to win instead of who’s right. I want to vote for somebody who’s good and brave and who should win.” The thing is, I already believe that there is somebody out there who is good and brave and should win. And can win. And is looking at running. And has a growing grassroots movement behind him.

I hope you’ll take a look at the Feingold for President movement. Check out, the main Feingold for President site, or my own humble blog, And then I hope you’ll feel that there is a great progressive candidate out there, even without Bill Moyers running. And then I hope you’ll think about using your column to encourage others to help make Russ Feingold the next President of the United States.


Daniel R. Kuehnert


Monday, July 31, 2006

Russ Roundup for July

Hey folks, I didn't mean to go through the whole month without another blog entry, but that's just the way it went. It wasn't much easier to fit the blog into my life with my job then it was to fit it in with school. Guess I'll just have to make the time by eliminating something else...eating and sleeping have always struck me as rather pointless...

Anyhow, here's some of the big events from the Month in Russ:

Patriot Corps: Earlier this month Senator Feingold and his Progressive Patriots Fund announced the creation of the Patriot Corps: a group of fifteen field organizers who the Fund will hire, train and send to key races in Wisconsin and throughout the country. Sound like something you'd be interested in doing? If so, the application is here, and they are accepting applications until August 11.

Of course while hiring fifteen field organizers is great, twenty would be even better and the Progressive Patriot Fund has been trying to raise $25,000 by midnight tonight in order to be able to help five more campaigns. While I don't know how many people will read this before midnight, the Fund was within $4,000 of the goal this morning, so if you can, please donate here.

And Speaking of Donations...: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran an interesting article today looking at where the approximately $2 million Senator Feingold has raised this year has come from, and how that differs from other possible Democratic presidential candidates. From the article:

In the first half of 2006, the Wisconsin senator raised 62% of his funds from people giving $200 or less, a much higher share than any other potential candidate.

If you want to see the exact numbers, check out this post by Chris Bowers at MyDD. Here's a summary: the possible candidate with the next highest percentage of small donors? John Kerry with 32%, followed by Wes Clark with 28% and Hillary Clinton with 18%. No one else was in double digits and for several candidates, small donors made up 1% or less of their donors.

So why does this matter? For one thing, it shows who Senator Feingold represents and who wants him to run: he is the candidate of average people who care about the future of the Democratic Party and the country. And it shows that people are willing to invest in Senator Feingold's campaign. As ilya S. at wrote:

What Senator Feingold is doing is just great campaign building. People will do things for your campaign if they are invested. They will go out and knock on doors in the freezing cold of Iowa and New Hampshire, they will do mailings at 5 am and Meet Ups at 9 pm. They will do what they can to get you elected because it's not just about the candidate but about the campaign. Great things are on the horizon. The evidence is slowly appearing, but Senator Feingold is exactly right in his word choice. Should Russ decide to run, contributions of time and money will explode. And then we'll have a genuine people powered candidate for 2008.

Health Care: Of course, the reason Senator Feingold is able to attract the small donors is that they know that he is willing to stand up for them on the issues that matter, like health care (which Senator Feingold has described as the number one issue he hears concerns about at his listening sessions in each of Wisconsin's 72 counties).

Last week, Senator Feingold announced a proposal for a federal program that would help state governments deliver universal health care to their citizens. A fact sheet on the program is here and an article on it is here. From the article:

"The time has come to see if we can get across our ideological differences--which are serious -- and to see if we can at least get off the dime with the idea of pilot projects," Feingold, D-Wis., told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "I thought it was time basically to break a logjam."

Feingold plans to unveil the legislation at a news conference in Milwaukee today, and introduce it in Congress later this week or early next week. He acknowledged it has little chance of passing this year, but said he wants to have something ready to go when a new Congress takes over next year.
I hope this program passes next year. Of course, that all depends on what kind of Congress we get, but I think Senator Feingold's proposal has a number of attractive features: it takes a first step towards the much needed goal of universal health care, it allows states the opportunity to be creative and try different types of programs while still giving them federal financial support (and as Tennesseans for Feingold noted on July 25: Senator Feingold spelled out the specifics of how to pay for it) . It's practical and creative, and it should pass...and then in the Feingold administration we could final achieve the dream ouniversalal healthcare for all Americans.

The health care proposal is one of a series of domestic policy proposals Senator Feingold will be announcing over the next six months, and I look forward to seeing the rest.

One issue? Hardly: Senator Feingold's health care proposal just makes me more amused by a recent criticism of Senator Feingold that I've seen popping up both in the mainstream media and by bloggers supporting other candidates: that Senator Feingold is a "one issue" candidate. An example can be found on this Hotline blog piece from the end of June.

This criticism is confusing because the people who use it never say what "one issue" they are talking about, and Senator Feingold has been a recognized leader on a number of major issues. And I don't just say this as one of his supporters.

People who aren't obsessed political junkies but follow the news might recognize Feingold as one of the two sponsors of that campaign finance law (what other bill in recently history is as well known by the name of its sponsors?) Or they might recognize Feingold as the one senator who voted against the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001. Or they might recognize him as the first senator to propose a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Or they might recognize him as the senator who proposed censuring President Bush for his illegasurveillancece of American citizens.

So please, people who say Senator Feingold is a one issue candidate can you tell me which one issue that is? Is it campaign finance reform? Civil liberties? The war in Iraq? Overreaching by the executive? Or perhaps it's his constant support for fair trade? Or his proposal for universal health care? Since I'm the one blogging in support of Senator Feingold please let me know what the only one issue I care about is; that would really free up a lot of my time.

And one final thought: how many of the possible Democratic candidates besides Senator Feingold are associated in the mind of a generally informed citizen (but not a political junkie) with EVEN one issue?

There's Gore and the environment (he's also been outspoken against the war and the domestisurveillancece programs). John Edwards is making a name for himself by focusing on poverty. Hillary may be remembered for the Clinton Health Care plan, or for her attack on Grand Theft Auto.

I know the other possible candidates care about the issues and have ideas, but right now I can't say there is anyone who people would remember as "The guy who...[whatever]" while there are at least four different issues Senator Feingold might be remembered for.

Iowa: Senator Feingold headed back to the Hawkeye (and First Caucus) State two weeks ago. To read more about it check out the great coverage over at Iowa for Feingold (scroll down to July 16) and .

And a poll to vote in: The Racine Journal Times has a poll asking "Should Russ Feingold run for President?" Cast your vote in favor of Russ!

So that's all for this time...hopefully I'll have more later this week.

Until next time, keep going Forward!


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Look! My Name's in the Paper!

Yesterday, the Valley Scene, an alternative newspaper covering the Fox Valley in Wisconsin, hit the stands with a cover story titled "Russ Feingold: the Next President of the United States?" What makes this article different from previous stories about a possible Feingold presidential run? Why, it's the first article to quote me!

Okay, my ego-boost from being interviewed for a newspaper story aside, the article is really good, quoting Feingold netroots activists (myself and ilya from RussforPresident), Wisconsin supporters of Russ, and Wisconsinites who oppose Russ (but admire him for standing by his principles). While I'm a definitely biased here, I think it's one of the best articles about a possible Feingold for President run since the author (Tony Palmeri) interviewed actual Feingold supporters, instead of just quoting political science professors or Democratic strategists and dismissing the grassroots and netroots activists.

Anyhow, the Valley Scene's online edition isn't updated yet, but you can read the article on Tony Palmeri's website and post comments on his blog.

Here is the most interesting part (totally biased opinion):

Ilya’s enthusiasm is shared by Dan Kuehnert, a student at Washington University law school in St. Louis, self described “liberal nerd,” and creator of two pro-Feingold blogs: Russ Feingold For President and Missouri For Feingold. Dan’s been a Feingold fan since following the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill at age 18 in 1999. He says that even when he’s disagreed with Feingold (such as his vote to confirm John Ashcroft as Attorney General) he “always thought he acted really thoughtfully and followed his own principles.” Like Ed, Dan thinks that Senator Feingold's integrity and intelligence are characteristics we need in a president, and that “he has positions on the issues that are also what America needs: a president who will fight terrorism while protecting civil liberties, a president who will make government cleaner and more accountable, and a president who will make the global economy work for everyone, here and abroad, rather than just the big corporate CEOs.” If Feingold announced a candidacy, Dan would stand out in the freezing weather handing out flyers or knocking on doors, “and Senator Feingold's the only possible candidate I'd do that for.”

So, there ya go. Sometimes I wonder if I should change that "liberal nerd" quote. When I wrote it, I didn't figure anyone would read it. I don't know if my self-deprecating humor translates that well in print. Neither does sarcasm. Which pretty much leaves me with straightforward jokes about guys walking into bars with pigs under their arms...and I'm no good at those.

On the other hand, I have statrted two Feingold for President blogs, so maybe that line is just plain accurate rather than self-deprecating...

And if that paragraph isn't enough for you, you are in luck! Tony gave me premission to post our entire email interview on the blog. So here it goes...

Dan K.: The Tony Palmeri interview (Questions in bold)

*Why did you start a Russ Feingold for President blog?

I started my blog back in December of 2004. I was one of those Democrats who, immediately after Kerry lost, thought "okay, what do we do four years from now?" I read every column and blog I could find about possible Democratic candidates for 2008 and I found them all disappointing: they were either focused on Hillary Clinton and how her nomination is "inevitable" or they promoted possible candidates like Evan Bayh, Mark Warner, or Bill Richardson arguing about their electability: arguing that they can win one or two key states and therefore the election and that is all that matters. And I found it discouraging that none of this dialogue asked what I think is the most important question: Who would make the best president?

I asked myself that question and my answer was Senator Russ Feingold. I got interested in politics again when I was 18, in 1999, and I read about Senator Feingold and Senator McCain and their fight for campaign finance reform; I just found it disgusting how much money went into politics and how hard it was to make even modest change to that. I followed Senator Feingold since then and even when I disagreed with him (such as his vote to confirm Ashcroft) I always thought he acted really thoughtfully and followed his own principles. I think that Senator Feingold's integrity and intelligence are characteristics we need in a president, and I think that he has positions on the issues that are also what America needs: a president who will fight terrorism while protecting civil liberties, a president who will make government cleaner and more accountable, and a president who will make the global economy work for everyone, here and abroad, rather than just the big corporate CEOs.

Anyhow, I knew Senator Feingold was the candidate I wanted to see the Democrats nominate in 2008 and I couldn't find any blogs or websites supporting him, so I decided to start one myself.

*What kind of response have you received?

It's been really amazing. In terms of emails and comments, the positive far out number the negative. But even more exciting are all the other Feingold for President sites that have sprung up: is a great national site for Feingold supporters to exchange ideas, and there is a project to start blogs for state Feingold supporters in each of the fifty states. So far there are around fifteen, and not just in "blue" states but also in places like South Carolina, Texas, and my state of Missouri.

And it's really surprised me. I thought I'd start a blog about Feingold, no one would read it, I'd forget about it and that's the end of the story. Instead I discovered that there are a LOT of people out there who think Senator Feingold's kind of leadership is what the party and the country need and are willing to work really hard for it, and I love that! It's why I keep going back to my blog, even when it's been hard to because of my job or law school.

*Do you think Feingold can get the Democratic Party nomination?

Yes, but I think he and his supporters will have to work hard for it. We'd be the underdogs going in but I think we could pull it off.

First why I think Senator Feingold can get the nomination: I think his courage and integrity get a lot of respect even from those who disagree with him, and I think everyone wants a president with those attributes. And then there are the issues I mentioned before: fighting terrorism while protecting civil liberties, make government cleaner and more accountable, and making the global economy work for everyone; I think those are issue that the vast majority of Americans, and especially the vast majority of Democrats believe in.

So why would we be underdogs: mainly because the conventional wisdom about Feingold already seems to be forming among the media and Democratic activists: he's not electable. And why is he supposedly unelectable: because he's twice divorced, Jewish, and, worst of all, he's liberal. And I find that really disappointing and kind of insulting to the whole idea of democracy: here's this great guy but we won't support him because we don't think other people will support him. And I think that's the wrong way to look at it, instead I hope that if people think Feingold would make the best president they'll be willing to work to convince others of that. And if people are willing to believe and willing to work, we can get Senator Feingold the nomination and the Presidency.

*If Feingold were to declare his candidacy, what kinds of things might you do for his campaign in addition to running the blog?

Simply put: I'd be willing to do anything his campaign would want me to do. If he runs, I'd take time off law school and go to Iowa or New Hampshire or Wisconsin or wherever the campaign is do whatever kind of work is needed. I'd love to do official blogging for the campaign, or any kind of writing or researching they'd need. But if they just need me to stand out in the freezing weather handing out flyers or knocking on doors, I'd do that. And Senator Feingold's the only possible candidate I'd do that for. If he doesn't run, I might give money to a candidate or do some work in Missouri, but I can't see myself blogging or giving up any significant amount of time for anyone but Feingold in 2008

*Is there anything else you would like to say?

Just to repeat what I wrote earlier in the question if Feingold could get the nomination: to anybody who is reading this and likes Feingold but thinks he might not win, just be willing to believe and willing to work and we can make it happen. The only way we will be able to bring this country forward is if we are willing to work for it.

End of Interview

So, what do you think? Do I have a future as a professional email interview answerer? Is that a profession?

Anyway, thank you to Tony Palmeri for the article, the interview, and allowing me to post it on my site!

Until next time...keep going Forward!

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