10/27/2010 01:51 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Russ Feingold: The Conscience of the Senate

On election day Wisconsin voters will fire a shot heard around the world.
Senator Russ Feingold is the leading champion in the Senate of the battle
against the corruptions of special interest money that pollute the politics
of the nation.

If the oceans of outside money invading Wisconsin defeat Senator Feingold,
it will be one more tragic proof that our country is becoming a land that
where the power is controlled by the money.

Russ Feingold is the conscience of the Senate.

He has spent a lifetime standing courageously against a corrupted system
that far too ofen has turned Washington into a house of ill repute run by
closed fundraisers, secret meetings, and sweetheart deals bought in backroom

Workers lose their jobs. Neighbors lose their homes. Women lose a fair day's
pay for a fair day's work. The poor lose their dignity. This dirty dance
goes on because the people with the money run the show, while the people
suffering the pain are left out in the cold.

Russ Feingold is the conscience of the Senate because he battles against
this system. He is now under attack by outside money pouring into Wisconsin
from special interests galore who want to keep the dirty system in place.
Once there were two leaders who stood together in this epic battle to
cleanse our system: John McCain and Russ Feingold.

Now McCain seeks reelection in Arizona by courting the special interests he
once deplored, while Feingold battles on
without compromising his belief that our government should be for the
people, not only for the people with the money.

Now the Supreme Court has virtually legalized the buying of America in the
Citizens United case by permitting unlimited campaign spending by special
interests that now flow, largely from secret donations, like rivers of mud,
onto television every day, financing character attacks on leaders such as
Russ Feingold.

Polls reveal that this horrific decision is opposed by more than 80% of
independents and more than 50% of Republicans, as well as Democrats. Why do
so many politicians with less courage and integrity than Russ Feingold
surrender the battle for cleaner campaigns? The answer is simple: they want
the money, and they fear the money.

Not Russ Feingold, who sails into gale force winds against special interest
money pouring into Wisconsin to defeat him -- for the very reason that he is
the conscience of the Senate.

It took true courage and patriotism for Russ Feingold to fight against the
power of this ocean of special interest money, like Mr. Smith in Frank
Capra's movie about Washington, knowing all along that this money would be
pouring into Wisconsin to destroy him, as it is today.

Frank Rich wrote brilliantly in last Sunday's New York Times about how so
little has changed in Washington, despite so many promises for change. I
have long argued that we live in one of the historical epochs like the
Gilded Age, where greed runs rampant and good people are crushed. Our
democracy itself is threatened by a lobbyist industrial complex even more
dangerous than the military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us
about, because it permeates every corner of our civic life.

This is why those who brought our economy to the brink of a new Depression
earn vast fortunes for their failures, protected by their campaign money and
defended by their high-priced lobbyists.

Russ Feingold is the conscience of the Senate because he is willing to risk
and lose his seat in the Senate, to fight for his vision of our Republic.

When the going got tough and the money was flowing John McCain became the hero
in war who took the coward's way out in politics, while Russ Feingold stands
taller than the tallest tree against the blizzard of bad money pouring into
Wisconsin to destroy him.

Who is attacking Russ Feingold today? Those who want to export jobs to slave
wage nations. Those who want to prevent women from getting fair pay for good
work. Those who want insurance premiums and credit card interest rates to
rise. Those who want students to pay more for loans, while small business
cannot get loans from bailed out bankers making multimillion dollar
fortunes. Those who want to foreclose homes without any respect for the rule
of law.

Russ Feingold is under attack by those who want the power of their money to
buy the special favors of our government.

I am not particularly proud of many Democrats today, but I am very proud to
call Russ Feingold the conscience of the Senate, the David of political
reform who must not be destroyed by the Goliath of dirty money.