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: russforpresident.com 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!