Progressives United

Barack Obama And Progressive Disillusionment: What Is The Alternative?

With the announcement of a deal on the Debt Ceiling Crisis last night, but still to be voted on today by both houses of Congress without a guarantee of its passage at this moment of writing, the question arises as to what is the future of the progressive movement in America.

Many might say the answer is to give up on Barack Obama and challenge him in the primaries, and or run a candidate on a third party line in November 2012.

If one looks at the history of such efforts, however, it always leads to the worst alternative to progressivism being triumphant!

In November 1967, Senator Eugene McCarthy entered the race for the Presidency against President Lyndon B. Johnson, followed by Senator Robert Kennedy in March 1968, leading to his withdrawal and replacement as the administration candidate by Vice President Hubert Humphrey. The split engendered in the party over the war in Vietnam led to a divided Democratic convention, and the defeat of Humphrey by Richard Nixon, who proceeded to continue the war in Vietnam another four years, something assuredly that would not have happened under a President Humphrey. This tumultuous split in the Democratic Party helped to make for a Republican advantage, and permanently changed the Democratic party, whereby they would only win the Presidency three times out of the next ten national elections.

In late 1979 and early 1980, President Jimmy Carter was challenged in the primaries, for being too moderate and centrist, by both Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Governor Jerry Brown of California. The effect of the primary challenge was to weaken Carter for the campaign, with all of the attacks by Kennedy and Brown used by the Republicans against Carter, and Ronald Reagan won the election, setting back the progressive movement dramatically, still having an effect in 2011!

There was similar discontent among some progressive elements with Bill Clinton in his first term, but no revolt or challenge from within the progressive movement, and Bill Clinton, with his faults and shortcomings, was reelected to a second term, the only Democrat to do so since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

So while there can be discontent and disappointment with Barack Obama, that he has not achieved everything that progressives desire, try to imagine President John McCain instead, and try to imagine whether any of the many accomplishments of the Obama Presidency would have been achieved, and the answer is clearly negative.

So when Ralph Nader, who helped to defeat Al Gore by running in Florida in the 2000 election, talks about challenging Barack Obama, the answer is to steer clear of him unless one wants another 2000 election, unless one wants a Republican likely to be further to the right than George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan were in 2000 or 1980.

And when one tries to consider what progressive spokesman could really win the nation in 2012, one comes up empty handed. Certainly, Ralph Nader has no credibility and is seen as fringe in nature. Dennis Kucinich has appeal for some of what he advocates, but has run twice in the Presidential primaries and comes across as loony to many with his personal quirks. Bernie Sanders is appealing to many, but is actually a Socialist, not a Democrat, and could not possibly have broad based appeal. Russ Feingold is probably the most attractive alternative, and has formed Progressives United, an advocacy organization in Madison, WIsconsin, but he is weakened by the loss of his Senate seat in 2010, and it would be better if he ran for Senator Herb Kohl’s Senate seat with Kohl retiring, with a good chance to come back to the Senate in 2012 and promote the progressive cause from that location, in a more constructive manner.

Who else is possible, with any credibility? Realistically, NO ONE, and therefore, there is no alternative but to support Barack Obama, have him and his party fight the good fight over the next 15 months, and work to create a solid majority for progressive causes in the House of Representatives and the Senate!

If that quest is successful, and with a second term and no reelection to face, Barack Obama would likely turn further to the left, stick his neck out, and become more progressive than he has been able to do, logistically, in this first term. With all the criticism that has been and will be made of Barack Obama, he still has the most progressive term in office since Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s with his Great Society!

Netroots Nation: Progressive Group Trying To Push Barack Obama Leftward!

Netroots Nation, the progressive activist organization, is meeting from yesterday through Sunday in Minneapolis, trying to promote an agenda to push Barack Obama away from corporate influence, and to end the wars in the Middle East and Asia.

Progressives are unhappy with the fact that, in their mind, Barack Obama is too willing to concede and compromise with the Republican opposition.

Former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold criticized the idea of Obama taking campaign funds from Wall Street and corporations when they are working constantly to undermine him and his agenda.

The argument is to raise campaign money for 2012 only from small contributors and the labor movement. The Democratic Party, he asserted, is in danger of losing its soul and its identity.

Feingold, who had promoted campaign finance reform with Senator John McCain a decade ago, and then saw it declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, insisted that such reform was necessary.

Feingold now heads a group called Progressives United, which is working to promote progressive causes in Wisconsin and nationally.

Feingold represents the frustration and impatience many progressives have with Obama, and there is concern that the enthusiasm of 2008 for Obama may not be repeated, and that campaign funding and support by activists may not be at the same level as 2008. Particularly gay activists and those working on the topic of illegal immigration are furious with Obama at this point.

But if progressives decide to back away from Obama, then the conservatives of this nation will win power, so there is really no alternative to a decision to work with Obama, while trying to move him further to the left in his agenda!

Russ Feingold Ahead In Wisconsin Poll For Possible Attempt To Return To Senate In 2012 Election

Former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, the greatest single loss for liberals and progressives in the 2010 Midterm Elections, is way ahead in a Wisconsin poll in the battle for the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring Senator Herb Kohl, and that is good news!

Feingold, who is now operating the political action committee called Progressives United, has not said that he would seek to return to the Senate, but the feeling among liberals and progressives is that he is essential as part of their message for the political future of the Democratic Party.

Always a bit of a rebel on the left, along with Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Feingold represents the heritage of Wisconsin Progressivism started by Robert La Follette, Sr., continued by his sons Robert La Follette, Jr. and Philip La Follette, all Republicans, and carried on by Democrats including William Proxmire and Gaylord Nelson!

All pressure needs to be brought on Feingold to assure that he makes the race, and returns to the Senate, representing a state which has had misfortune with Governor Scott Walker and his anti labor legislation, and Congressman Paul Ryan, with his plan to to destroy Medicare as we know it!

Wisconsin Senate Seat Open With Herb Kohl’s Retirement: Will Russ Feingold Seek The Seat?

With the announced retirement a week ago of Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, the possibility of the return of former Senator Russ Feingold, who was defeated by Tea Party favorite and businessman Ron Johnson, to the US Senate beckons.

Feingold, who has formed his own Political Action Committee, Progressives United, to fight for progressive causes, has not announced if he will seek the seat, but progressives all over America should insist he run, as his defeat in 2010 was the biggest loss for progressives and liberals, of all the lost members in the Republican tide of 2010.

Rumors had spread that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan would seek the seat, but with the outrage expressed nationally and in his home district against his Medicare plan to privatize the system over the next decade, he seems reluctant to give up his prestigious position to run for a junior role in the Senate as a new member.

Instead, former Governor Tommy Thompson, who was also Health and Human Services Secretary under President George W. Bush, is planning to run, making a possible top race between Feingold and Thompson.

The question will be whether Thompson, as former HHS Secretary, will endorse the Ryan plan on Medicare.

If he does, and Feingold runs, it will be a classic battle of progressivism against extreme right wing conservatism and Tea Party influence. It will be a battle for the future of the social safety net of the New Deal and Great Society, and it is unacceptable for Feingold to decide not to run, and to lose the race to Thompson or any other Republican, even if Thompson does not support the Ryan plan.

This is one of the key battles for the future of America!

Russ Feingold And Progressives United: The Fight Against Corporate Influence In Politics

Former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, who lost his race to Ron Johnson in 2010, after Johnson spent a good part of his personal fortune and utilized corporate contributions as well to defeat Feingold, is now on a new crusade against the corporate influence that defeated him after 18 productive years in the Senate.

Feingold was considered the biggest loss for the progressive movement in America in 2010, and is well remembered for his strong principles while in office.

He has now formed a Political Action Committee, Progressives United, which is out to promote the end of corporate influence on politics, by overcoming the effects of the Citizens United Supreme Court case of January 2010, which totally corrupted the political campaigns last year, and led to the gaining of 63 seats by the Republicans in the House of Representatives.

Feingold, who had worked with John McCain on campaign finance reform, which was overturned by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United Case, has made it clear that he will not accept “soft money” or unlimited contributions for his PAC.

The goal is to overturn the Supreme Court decision eventually, and meanwhile offer support to progressive candidates, and hold the media and elected officials accountable on the goals of the PAC.

Feingold refused to accept outside spending on his campaigns, and unfortunately lost, as a result, but he made it clear that the Citizens United Case is bringing back the Gilded Age “on steroids”!

The battle for democracy in the future is centered around the struggle against the powerful corporate world, which is out to enrich itself at the expense of the citizens of this country, with the concept of greed and selfishness seemingly having no limit.

So all progressive and liberal thinkers and activists should support Senator Feingold in his quest to fight corporate influence through Progressives United!