Senator Feingold: Goin' South and...Wearin' Ascots?!
Many of you have probably already read Senator Feingold's article, originally written for Salon, and recently reprinted in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, describing his experience and thoughts during a recent golfing vacation in Alabama. For those that haven't I encourage you to check it out. Here is a key section:
I definitely agree with Senator Feingold here: there is a national audience for a Democratic Party that puts forth a consistent economic populist message. I don't know if turning the red states blue is that easy, but we should give it a shot.
"Now some may think that Alabama and Wisconsin are the polar opposites of American politics.
But in both states I've found that (along with sharing a sincere appreciation of a good turkey dinner) too many hardworking people are losing their battles for decent paying jobs and adequate health care.
I'm tired of seeing the power-hungry persuade the hard-working people of this country that the only way to preserve important values is to vote against their own families' basic interests.
I believe that the working people of both states have sacrificed for other people's agendas for too long.
And I believe that any political party or political movement or political candidate who would consistently say this would be heard throughout America."
The Journal-Sentinel also printed a response from a Greenville, Alabama resident who, to put it mildly, disagrees. It's basically straight out liberal bashing, at one point comparing Feingold to the Bolsheviks. However, it is worth reading if only to get another perspective...And it's pretty amusing when the writer imagines that Senator Feingold "dons his smoking jacket and ascot and sips his cognac while sitting in his winged-backed chair by the fire." Does anyone have pictures of Senator Feingold in his smoking jacket and ascot? I'd like to see that!
Seriously, though, while I admire Senator Feingold (obviously) and agree with his message, I can see while some in Greenville and other parts of the south may have be angered by the piece and by the whole economic populist argument. Unfortunately, it can come off as arrogant and patronizing (i.e. "You silly poor southerners! You should care about health care, not abortion!") playing in to the liberal elitist stereotype. That said, I think Senator Feingold was very respectful and admiring of Alabamans in the article...But, then, I'm not from Greenville.
A final note, the Journal-Sentinel says that Greenville's mayor has invited Feingold back to see more of the city and the Senator agreed. I think that is good news. In Wisconsin, Feingold is known for having "listening sessions" in every county each year. Hopefully, when Senator Feingold returns to Greenville he'll have a listening session there, so he can hear what the people there are concerned about, not just tell them what they should be concerned about. That's the best way to get rid of the liberal elitist tag (well, after losing the ascot and smoking jacket...), and I think if he does that the people of Greenville will come away respecting him, if not agreeing with him on everything.