Friday, November 4, 2016

ENDORSEMENT: It is imperative that Russ Feingold wins back his old Senate seat

A vote for Ron Johnson is a vote for irrational thinking; Feingold brings intelligence to the Senate

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The race for the White House is taking center-stage, and all signs are pointing towards a win for Hillary Clinton. But even if Clinton defeats Donald Trump, she’s going to need a change in Congress to get her agenda passed.

Several Senate seats across the country are competitive, and is presently predicting a 60 percent chance that the Senate will flip over to Democratic Party control. That will allow a President Clinton the chance to push some of her agenda, and give her some leverage when dealing with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. It will also allow her an easier path to filling her appointments within her cabinet and on various federal courts.

But she’ll need every senate victory she can get on Tuesday night. One of those competitive seats is right here in the Badger State, between incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R) and former Sen. Russ Feingold (D).

The most recent polling between the two candidates is tighter than ever before. Feingold and Johnson are, for statistical reasons, in a virtual tie. It is imperative that Feingold defeat Johnson and reclaim his old seat.

Understanding the U.S. Constitution

Feingold, for one, respects and understands the meanings behind many aspects of the Constitution. As the only senator to vote against the USA PATRIOT Act in the days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Feingold showed true leadership and a commitment to the rule of law in voting against the act.

At the time, many didn’t understand why he voted the way he did. But when it became clear that the law allowed the executive branch to engage in unprecedented levels of surveillance on its citizens, Feingold’s vote was championed as the right move to take.

Ron Johnson, meanwhile, thinks he’s a constitutional scholar, too. He opposed the Violence Against Women Act because he thought the law was unconstitutional.

The unconstitutional provision? Allowing American Indian’s to prosecute men in tribal courts when they abuse a Native American woman on tribal land.

Yet that’s a misguided view of what is Constitutional or not. If a person commits a crime within a tribal jurisdiction, they should be tried in that court, plain and simple. And nothing in the U.S. Constitution prevents Congress from passing a law that allows tribal courts from doing so.

From (Emphasis in bold mine):
It is true that the Supreme Court held back in the 1970s that tribal courts do not have criminal jurisdiction over non-Native Americans, but that decision concluded that “Indian tribes...give up their power to try non-Indian citizens of the United States except in a manner acceptable to Congress.” More recently, the Court’s 2004 decision in United States v. Lara recognized that Congress “does possess the constitutional power to lift the restrictions on the tribes’ criminal jurisdiction over nonmember Indians.” The reasoning of that decision would also apply to a law expanding tribal jurisdiction further to include non-Native Americans who engage in violence against women on reservations.
Having a basic understanding of how the Constitution works is a key function that we should expect from our elected leaders. Feingold shows he understands our nation’s founding document, while Johnson struggles with it.

Comprehending Science

Ron Johnson isn’t a man of science. Recently, he recognized that climate change may be occurring. But he didn’t see any problems with climate change -- just the opposite, he spun it as something beneficial to the people of this country.


Johnson rhetorically asked a Wisconsin radio station host, “How many people are moving up toward the Antarctica, or the Arctic? Most people move down to Texas or Florida, where it’s a little bit warmer.”

So a warmer world wouldn’t be that bad of a thing, apparently, according to Ron Johnson. Except that it would. As I pointed out last month, climate change won’t just raise temperatures, but will also create droughts in some areas (including Wisconsin), floods in others, extreme weather events and more. Florida itself could disappear if the ice caps melt, for example.

Russ Feingold, though, trusts the science behind climate change and supports actions to reduce the detrimental effects of man-made climate change on the environment. It’s why he’s earned the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters as well as the Sierra Club.

The fight against man-made climate change, Feingold points out, “was bipartisan before people like Senator Johnson were elected and started saying absolute nonsense about sunspots and other reasons to avoid the issue.” We need to send a senator back to Washington who recognizes the grave importance of this issue. That person is Russ Feingold.

Listening to Wisconsinites

While serving as a U.S. Senator, Russ Feingold made a point of visiting every county in Wisconsin to listen to the citizens of this state. Whether rural or urban, Feingold wanted the people to know he was their senator.

And in announcing his run for his old seat, Feingold did it again: in the first 101 days from when he officially announced, Feingold again traveled to and held listening sessions in all of Wisconsin’s 72 counties.

“From coffee shops, to jobs sites, to main street businesses and bars, I'm going to continue traveling across Wisconsin this year to listen to the thoughts and concerns of Wisconsinites,” Feingold stated at the time.

Wisconsinites respond well to political leaders that listen to their concerns. Taking the time to listen to people -- even those that disagree with you -- is an ideal that is shared across this state.

Ron Johnson, though, doesn’t share in this ideal. “I'm not quite sure why Senator Feingold constantly brags about doing it,” he said in response.

That strikes me as contemptuous on Johnson’s part. Johnson might as well ask, “Why does Feingold get credit for listening to people?” Yet, in asking that question Johnson shows that the opinions of every Wisconsinite don’t matter as much as they do to Feingold.


On the issues, Russ Feingold shows that he’s the right person for the job. But he also demonstrates this by showcasing his willingness to listen to every citizen of this state. Johnson is just the opposite: he’s willing to ignore science, he’s unknowledgeable on the Constitution, and he’s doesn’t want to meet with Wisconsinites unless he absolutely has to.

For the reasons outlined above and more, Feingold deserves to return to his old senate seat.

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