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!