Today, I am endorsing Russ Feingold for President in 2008. Currently, the Democratic Party is in a battle for its future between the pro-Walmart, pro-corporate influences of the 1990’s and the grassroots forces of ordinary people like you and me which shook up the party in 2004 and almost pulled off a win over George Bush. Russ Feingold is the people’s champion, favoring the average person over the corporations feeding at the trough of corporate welfare. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton served on the Wal-Mart board of directors between 1985 and 1992. We could easily refer to her as “Hillarycorp.”
The purpose of this diary is to compare and contrast Feingold’s and Hillary’s stances on the issues, followed by a brief comparison with the other candidates. I believe Feingold shares my values more than any other candidate. I also believe he is the most electable candidate. I will explain why below and talk about how I will campaign for Russ in these threads.
The most obvious comparison between Russ and Hillary is their stances on the war. I wrote about this in detail here. I wrote that Hillary supported the war, thinks things are going great there, and supports the building of permanent bases. By contrast, Russ opposed the war from the beginning. He supports an exit timetable. I would favor an immediate withdrawal, but can live with a timed exit strategy. Here are his remarks outlining his position:
“Disappointment about Iraq is deepening. The majority of Wisconsinites are very skeptical of the way the war is going,” Feingold, D-Wis., said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning. “We didn’t sign up for an indefinite occupation of Iraq.”
Feingold said a clear plan would help in budgeting more responsibly for current and future military needs.
The resolution does not set up a time frame for troop withdrawal. Feingold said that’s something for the military commanders to decide. It does, however, call for a commitment by Bush to set a tentative schedule for withdrawal within 30 days of its passage.
The senator said he returns to Wisconsin almost every weekend. When he meets with his constituents, he has noticed the number of people who approach him asking when the U.S. government can bring their sons and daughters home has been on the rise.
“Soldiers are dying, the pace is increasing, and the people of Iraq are dying daily,” Feingold said. “Our defense is being weakened.”
With five more Wisconsin soldiers killed in Iraq in recent months, he said it’s time to give people a vision of a plan for U.S. troops coming home.
And Feingold worries about a draft:
“If it becomes a quagmire, it could force a draft,” he said. “I oppose a draft, but I do understand why they might need it if things go on as they are.”
Another major area of difference is in the area of free trade. Hillary’s husband, Bill, signed both NAFTA and the China Agreement, directly leading to the loss of millions of American jobs and forcing workers to take new jobs paying them as little as one-third of their previous pay. To her credit, Hillary voted against CAFTA. However, that is not good enough. She supported the other two agreements; the China agreement, in particular, benefited Wal-Mart, the company on whose BOD she served.
Feingold, on the other hand, opposed all three free trade agreements, and was one of only 16 senators to vote against the China Agreement. Here is his statement against CAFTA and other such agreements:
Our trade agreements should ensure that potential trading partners are subject to some minimum standards including enforceable provisions to protect workers, the environment, and public health and safety. Without some minimum standards, CAFTA will only further encourage the race to the bottom instigated by NAFTA and other trade agreements, and that’s a race which no one wins. I look forward to the upcoming debate on CAFTA and it’s my hope that this Administration will not ignore bi-partisan concerns and continue to promote the false promises and failed trade policies that have not worked for America’s working families. “
Feingold, in contrast to HillaryCorp, is one of the few elected officials who understands that these horrible agreements not only hurt our workers, but condemn third-world workers to work 16 hours a day in sweatshop conditions with few or no bathroom breaks.
This also raises an electability issue as well. In the last election, John Kerry did worse in Missouri and only gained 2 points in Ohio. These were two battleground states which experienced heavy manufacturing job losses between 2000 and 2004. The problem is that John Kerry supported NAFTA and the China agreement. People held the Democrats just as responsible for the job losses as they did the GOP, if not more.
In fact, in St. Joseph, MO, which had four plants close in 2004 alone, Kerry lost by 2,000 in a county in which Gore carried by 500 in 2000.
People who vote have long memories of how politicians acted a long time ago. For example, my mother, who hated Dole, told me stuff about him from 25 years before the 1996 election. This factor affects how people vote many years later. The long memories of voters 12 years later came back to haunt Kerry, a NAFTA supporter.
On the other hand, Feingold would not be affected; he opposed NAFTA, the China agreement, and CAFTA. He has made a long history of opposing free trade agreements by either party.
To be fair to Clinton, I wrote here that I was not sure whether I would vote for her because of her pro-war stance. However, there are two other issues in play; Bill Cinton’s record on picking judges and his record on the environment were much better than Bush’s records. For those reason, I would still vote for Hillary if she wins the primaries.
But we cannot give her a free ticket to the nomination. We must present a clear alternative to her in order to force her to listen to our views. If we don’t do so, she will be able to settle for mediocrity because there is no competition for her. That is like a company which doesn’t have to make high-quality products because it has no competition.
Here are by brief views on the other candidates:
Clark: My second choice; however, he is more pro-free trade and therefore less electable. Here is a summary of his position. He is believes in setting fair standards such as the rise in living standards. But he believes in globalization as contributing to American might and did not give a straight answer when asked if he would modify NAFTA. Russ Feingold would.
Feingold believes in peace more than Clark does as well. Clark was one of the architects of the Kosovo War; Feingold voted against authorizing air strikes against Yugoslavia.
I recognize that General Clark did an outstanding job running the Kosovo conflict. However, that war was a short-term success and a long-term disaster. I recognize the fact that Miloslovec was a dictatorial maniac; however, I feel he would have been deposed anyway without American intervention. In addition, Iraq was widely framed as a logical extension of Kosovo. I suggest that Hillary became enamoured of her husband’s success there and has come to rely way too much on the military as a means of solving problems.
Here is what Feingold had to say about Kosovo:
Clinton “has again failed to make the case to the American people and to the Congress for the deployment of U.S. ground troops in the Balkans,” Feingold charged in a March 22, 1999 speech.
“As with the Bosnia mission, there is no clear set of goals beyond `maintaining’ a currently nonexistent peace, no timetable for withdrawal, no cost estimate, and no exit strategy,” Feingold declared. “This proposed deployment to Kosovo is another in the long line of ill-fated and seemingly unending peacekeeping missions that this administration has chosen to undertake without the explicit authorization of the Congress.”
And Feingold said the bill authorized lots of pork that did not go towards Kosovo:
Feingold said both parties are falling into a trap where money is spent for all sorts of situations. Much of the spending is approved under so-called “emergency spending.”
“One senator said every natural disaster is an opportunity,” Feingold said.
When emergency spending is approved, money for many other issues is thrown into the package and also approved. Most politicians will not vote against an “emergency bill.” The problem, Feingold says, is that there are getting to be too many “emergency bills” and too much extra baggage.
“The president asked for $6 billion for the action in Kosovo,” Feingold said. “Congress ended up approving a $15 billion bill. Much of the money had nothing to do with Kosovo.”
He said emergency spending has become the new way to write blank check. He said this fall could see $30 billion in spending.
“It’s very dangerous and irresponsible,” Feingold said.
Kerry: He supported NAFTA and the China agreement as noted above. Also, he has displayed an remarkable inability to relate to rural voters. He won most cities and lost most rural counties in the battleground states, including Missouri. By contrast, Feingold won many rural counties that Kerry lost in Wisconsin.
Also, Kerry voted for the Iraq War resolution, failing to foresee that the President was hell-bent on war. Feingold opposed the war.
Edwards: He supported the Iraq War and the Kosovo War, which Feingold opposed. Despite his emphasis on rural issues, he failed to give John Kerry a boost in rural areas in 2004.
Bayh: He reminds me of Milt Romney; his idea is that if he can win in a red state, he can win nationally. But math is not so simple. He takes the left for granted and panders to the right.
Warner: He supports NAFTA and has been a regular of the DLC, the pro-corporate engine trying to drive out the left.
Vilsak: The current president of the DLC.
Biden: So devoid of ideas, he had to plagiarize Neil Kinnock, the UK’s Labour leader in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Kinnock, remember, threw away a sure victory in 1992 by hosting an American-style political convention and causing voters to vote for Major and throw up afterwards.
Richardson: His tenure as Secretary of Energy was scandal-ridden and Senators didn’t find him credible at the end. Another tool of the DLC.
Schweitzer: Needs more experience; has served only one term as Governor of Montana.
For the future, I will be actively campaigning for Feingold here in these threads. I will cover his stances on the issues and contrast them to Hillary’s. I will, on occasion, discuss the other candidates as necessary. In addition, I will be proposing and developing ideas for discussion that we can campaign on next year.