Senator Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, has long been one of the politicians and leaders I most admire. His his unyielding fight against the genocide in Darfur and continued support for the people of Darfur makes him a real hero in my book.
Feingold is a man of principle and deep convictions. He always (and I do mean always) puts principles above partisanship or personality. He is one of a few rare Senators who will consistently reach across the aisle and forge partnerships to achieve goals. He does not ever play games, but uses his political talent to achieve real results for the American people.
Feingold and I agree about 90% of the time on all issues, but when we disagree I always respect his opinion and position and especially respect his willingness to put it all on the line to advance his argument.
So I was not even a tiny bit surprised to watch Senator Feingold's press conference yesterday where he announced he could not and would not support the insane Pelosi pork filled spending bill now being debated in the Senate. Feingold joins fellow Democrat Senator Evan Bayh in advising President Obama to veto the bill and demand Congress send him a responsible appropriations bill. Feingold and Bayh and a few other principled Democrats may join Republicans and actually defeat this bill in the Senate.
But Senator Feingold is carrying the fight one critical step further. Reaching across the aisle once again, Feingold is joining forces with Republican Senator John McCain in introducing legislation to give President Obama the line item veto and the ability to eliminate waste from spending bills.
Feingold is leading the fight for the American people on several other key fronts. He has also introduced Constitutional amendment that would prevent Governors from appointing replacements for Senators or Representatives who leave office mid term (for any reason) and force states to hold elections to replace the absent officials. This takes the risk of "pay-for-play" appointments off the table and insures representatives are actually responsible to the people they represent.
At the same time Senator Feingold is working closely with House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) in sponsoring the Democracy Restoration Act would restore voting rights to over 4 million people, the vast majority African Americans, who have convictions but have paid their debt to society and are out of prison and living in the community.
Some of these efforts might fail, at least today, as they face huge opposition, primarily from Democrats. His opposition to earmarks has earned him the ire of several prominent Democrats. And some see his opposition to the budget appropriations bill as an attack on President Obama. This is completely untrue. Feingold is exactly the type of leader Obama needs if he is to enact the change he promised in his election campaign.
And Feingold is exactly the type of Senator America needs.