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 auctions.
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.