If you know me at all, you know that I'm mildly obsessed with Senator Russ Feingold, Democrat from Wisconsin. Here's one reason why--
Lawrence Neste, a veteran and town chairman of Springbrook asked, "What happened to our flag amendment?" He said, "We lost by one vote."
"You lost because you did not get enough votes, and one of the reasons is that I did not vote for it," said Feingold.
"That's right," said Neste.
"With respect, I respect the flag and I respect your service to our country. I believe the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as it is, never been changed, the Bill of Rights. I don't think we should amend the Bill of Rights, the first time in the history of our country, for a few jerks that burn a flag. It harms the majesty of the Bill of Rights.
"Still, I understand why people want it. It seems to me the flag stands for our freedom and one of our freedoms is to do dumb things, but I don't think people who burn the flag should be accorded any respect or as people who are credible."
"Sometime we need change," said Neste.
"That's fair," responded Feingold. "That's why we have elections."
(from an article in The Spooner Advocate about Russ's most recent listening session in Spooner.)
In the words of my mom who sent me the article in the first place, "No pandering or equivocating or mealy mouthing. Wow."
He didn't make excuses or try to get around the question, he just told this Mr. Neste that he didn't agree with his position and told him that if he didn't like that, he should vote for someone else. I can't get over how impressive that is.
I went to one of Russ's listening sessions in Hudson, WI, at least four years ago; I think it was during winter break of my freshman year. I had heard of Russ, but my hopeless crush on him began that day. First of all, the man has done listening sessions in all seventy-two countie in Wisconsin every year for the past fourteen years. That's impressive enough, but I refuse to believe anyone could go to a listening session and not come away with an enormous amount of respect for the man, whether or not you agree with his politics. He actually, seriously, genuinely listens to people. At the listening session I was at, a high school student asked him about his position on something, and Russ told him he honestly didn't know that much about it. He had one of his staffers get information from the kid, and they were talking for at least twenty minutes. He listened to every single person who asked a question, took copious notes, made sure his staffers talked to anyone who wanted to give or get more information, and generally acted like someone who cared about what his constituents had to say.
However, sexy as his listening skills were, that is not the reason I developed my awesomely geeky crush on the junior Senator from Wisconsin. About midway through the session, this curmudgeonly retiree stood up and proceeded to go off on a tirade about all of the things Senator Feingold had voted for or against proved that Russ "hated the military, was trying to help the terrorists, and loved killing babies." That kind of statement really got everyone's attention. The meeting room at the old Hudson Municipal Building was quiet for thirty seconds while Russ looked over the notes he'd written while the cranky old man was going on and on about how Russ loved abortion, etc, and then he started talking. Russ went through each of the bills the angry grandpa had mentioned, pointed out where he had gotten Russ's vote wrong, explained why he voted the way he did, and then, at the end, the moment that made me fall in love--"So that's how I voted. And if you don't agree with the way I voted, you probably shouldn't vote for me."
Seriously. He seriously sad that. It was mean or vindictive, Russ just explained how he had voted and why, and then he told the crazy old man that if he didn't agree with Russ's votes, he should vote for the other guy next time.
Oh, and by the way, "next time" was the 2004 elections, where Russ got 44,000 more votes than Kerry did in Wisconsin, which added up to the most votes any politician has ever recieved in Wisconsin. Ever.
I'll leave you with this, which is the best news I've heard today and also references the best news I heard this week. Yay for Ned Lamont. Let's just hope fucking Lieberman doesn't run as an independant.
And yes, I am choosing to ignore any other news that may have come out of Lebanon or Israel or London today. I can only handle so much reality.