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.

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