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 http://www.russforpresident.com/, the main Feingold for President site, or my own humble blog, http://russfeingold.blogspot.com/. 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