By J. DeVoy
Russell Feingold will be an ex-senator in January. It’s not soon enough. Feingold, half of the propulsion behind the McCain-Feingold Act that limited political speech and chipped away at your First Amendment protections, was never the reformer he portrayed himself to be.
McCain-Feingold has long been one of the outgoing Wisconsin senator’s hallmark achievements. Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court wasn’t as enthusiastic about it as Feingold’s supporters, evinced by Federal Elections Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Incorporated, 551 U.S. 449 (2007) and most recently Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, ___ U.S. ___, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010). McCain has already paid his dues by having the 2008 presidential campaign thrash his political career to near-death.
For Feingold, however, the masquerade of his anti-speech tendencies – bordering on totalitarian, since how dare the average citizen speak in a way that upsets the ruling elite – as meaningful reform for the good of voters, has come to an end. So what if he initially voted against the Patriot Act, a token vote doomed to uselessness? When it mattered, at election time, the only civil liberties that were worth defending were those that Russ Feingold found important – evinced by McCain-Feingold. What Feingold stood for was the worst kind of a la carte devotion to civil liberties. Despite an ostensible Republican victory in the House of Representatives, while the Democrats seem likely to retain the Senate, everyone is better off without Russ Feingold.