Oh Noes! Feingold Not Running For Anything.
Showing his progressive leadership, Russ Feingold announced today he was not running for any office in 2012. Yes, I am being snarky. Feingold is another example of the faux-progressive which progressives spend way too much time and energy lionizing and promoting.
To briefly recap, Feingold's main claim to fame was the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign reform bill. This bill was a figleaf covering the complete corruption of the political process that had already occurred. The 2010 Citizens United decision simply removed the figleaf. It did not materially alter the "bought" nature of our politics. His other claim to fame is his March 14, 2006 motion to censure George Bush. It too was largely symbolic. That was 5 1/2 years ago. It is surprising the amount of mileage faux-progressives get out of their occasional gestures to the left.
The point is that Feingold could have been, and should have been, if he were legit, a focus for progressive organizing. But he wasn't. The censure motion was good political theater, but it never led to anything. Feingold could have been the voice of opposition to Bush and his policies, but the silence from the Wisconsin Senator's office was deafening. He could have played the same role opposing Obama's right wing corporatist agenda. He did not. Indeed he lost his Senate seat largely because of his failure to distance himself from Obama.
There are other reasons to dislike Feingold and question his progressive credentials. He voted for John Roberts as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He voted for Obamacare. And he is a deficit hawk.
This year at the national faux-progressive convention of Netroots Nation, Feingold was one of the keynote speakers. It was actually fairly stomach turning to read the various posts filled with accolades encouraging him to primary Obama, or run for the Senate again, or for governor against the unpopular Walker in a recall election. Feingold did his star turn and, completely consistent with the lack of follow through that has characterized his career, bailed on them.
Now you may think that I am being too hard on Feingold, but I'm not. If you want to know where Feingold is coming from and where he really stands, then I would point you to this part of today's announcement:
When I said on election night last year that it "was on to 2012," I meant it. As I said those words I was especially thinking of the need to re-elect President Obama. I will be working to re-elect him and hope to play a significant role in that effort.
Obama, at least as conservative as Bush, more conservative than Reagan or Nixon, and this is whom the absolutely faux-progressive Feingold supports. Do I really need to say anything more?
Feingold says that among other things he wishes to work on his organization/PAC Progressives United which he set up to fight the Citizen United decision and corporate influence in the election process. To be honest, I don't know what that even means given his support for the corporatist in chief Obama. Or that he voted for John Roberts. Or that he didn't try to lead the filibuster against Alito.
My main reason for discussing Feingold's announcement is that progressives continually look to figures like him for leadership without ever coming to grips with the fact that no one on our national scene has exercised real progressive leadership in a generation. Feingold simply provides the most recent example of this phenomenon. We need to stop looking to these people and ascribing progressive leadership, intentions, and records to them that they do not possess.