It’s been five years since the 2010 election between Senator Russ Feingold and Ron Johnson. Since then, Republicans have failed to get anything done and Congress’ approval rating has plummeted.
They refuse to work with Democrats in Congress or the President. They refuse to compromise on anything and continue to waste our taxpayer dollars taking futile votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act (54 times– believe it or not). The 2012-13 and 2013-14 sessions of Congress are the least productive back-to-back sessions on record.
Ron Johnson is the posterchild of this failed Congress.
Feingold, on the other hand, has always stood up for his beliefs and had phenomenal foresight of political issues. He was the lone senate-vote against the PATRIOT Act after 9/11. He maintained grave concerns over the violation of privacy, even during a time of panic and fear in our nation. Today, Republicans and Democrats alike openly admit to privacy violations as a result of the PATRIOT Act. This violation is demonstrated by the ballooning of the NSA and citizen surveillance programs.
Feingold worked tirelessly with John McCain to pass the bipartisan McCain-Feingold Act. Since Watergate, it is the most comprehensive reform to maintain dignity in our electoral system. Eight years later, the Supreme Court decimated our campaign finance system with Citizens United; now widely considered detrimental to politics in America. It has resulted in millions of dark money dollars pouring into elections across the nation.
In fact, Johnson is a direct product of dark-money politics. In his 2010 election, money poured in from conservative super PACS and dark-money groups across the country. It helped him get elected and the same is already beginning for 2016.
While Johnson has continued to have monstrous sums of money spent on his behalf, Feingold condemns super PACs and dark-money. He has even called on Johnson to sign a pledge to keep this type of money out of the race. In their 2012 election, Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren signed a similar pledge, which was extremely successful in keeping integrity in the campaign.
Johnson refuses to sign the “Badger Pledge” and is therefore standing in the way of its implementation. By passively ignoring the pledge, he allows unaccounted dollars to pay for negative attack ads and smear campaigns.
To distract from his own ambivalence to the Badger Pledge, Johnson is now falsely attacking the political action committee, Progressives United. It’s classic politics: attack an organization for being successful.
Progressives United raised millions of dollars for progressive candidates. It helped stop social security cuts and won a big fight to ensure equal access to the Internet with Net Neutrality rules. It’s quite a contrast to the unaccounted-for dark money Johnson relies on.
These conservative dark money groups have extreme political agendas. They prop up candidates with their war chests lined behind them. They pour incredible amounts of money into advancing their agendas that are distinctly against the public interest.
One of these important issues is climate change, for which the dark money groups demand candidates flat-out deny.
But, voters are smarter; especially young voters. They have rejected these lucrative special interest groups. Only three percent of voters under the age of 35 deny the existence of climate change, but Johnson isn’t quite so keen. He has called the existence of human-induced climate change “lunacy” and praised carbon emissions. Carbon dioxide “gets sucked down by trees and helps the trees grow,” according to our ever-so-scientific senator.
Johnson’s crowning (or clowning) achievement is criticizing The Lego Movie for being anti-business. Or maybe it’s blaming students for not working their way through college and not working hard to graduate on time. He said, “loans are actually pretty easy to get, and college is a lot of fun.” Or maybe it’s when he filed a dead-end lawsuit to undermine the Affordable Care Act—twice.
Feingold worked tirelessly in the Senate on important, salient and often-bipartisan issues. The McCain-Feingold Act for campaign finance reform being his crowning achievement. Perhaps Republican Party leader John McCain characterized Feingold best: “I have never met a more decent or honest public servant than Russ Feingold.”