My Interview with Senator Feingold

I recently posted an interview I did with Mr. Rob Taylor, Wisconsin Senate Candidate.

I was then accused of favoritism, so that night I sent 5 questions a piece to Ron Johnson and Senator Feingold. Here are the five questions and answer from Senator Feingold. More information can be found at I am still patiently awaiting Mr. Johnson’s reply.

1. With the recent Citizens United ruling, how realistic is it to put in reforms to lessen corporate influence of elections?

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United was a tragic mistake, and I hope that over time a changing Court will reconsider the ruling. In the meantime, while we cannot reverse the decision by legislation we should put into place disclosure requirements that will let the American people know exactly who is funding the enormous amount of corporate sponsored political advertising that will undoubtedly result from the decision. That is why I support the DISCLOSE Act and believe Congress must enact it in time for it to take effect for the 2012 elections. The House has already passed that bill, and we are just a few votes short in the Senate.

2. As sponsor or author of the Same Day Registration Act, Democracy Restoration Act and the Caging Prohibition Act, how many co-sponsors do you have? What is the opposition to these bills? Will these bills ever become law? what else can be done to ensure a higher turnout amongst the citizens, not just of Wisconsin but of every state?

There are five cosponsors of the Same Day Registration Act, five of the Democracy Restoration Act, both of which I authored in the Senate, and thirteen of the Caging Prohibition Act, which is sponsored by Sen. Whitehouse. We have a ways to go to pass these measures, all of which are aimed at increasing participation in democracy by making sure that all of our citizens that want to vote have the opportunity to do so. I strongly believe that our country is better off when greater percentages of eligible voters exercise their rights. We can increase participation by breaking down logistical and practical barriers to voting as these bills attempt to do, by assuring voters that their elected officials represent them and not corporate interests as my campaign finance efforts have attempted to do, and by proposing and fighting for constructive and realistic solutions to the problems that voters feel are important, like jobs, the economy, health care, and the environment.

3. The workforce has diminished from about 25% unionization in 1980 to approximately 7% now. Is there still the political will and desire in Congress to pass EFCA? Can we expect to see a vote on this bill in the near future.

I am a cosponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) because I strongly support the right of workers to organize and collectively bargain for better wages, health benefits, and improved working conditions. Right now, employers can choose the method by which workers organize and the process is often unfairly stacked against workers who wish to form a union. EFCA tries to correct this imbalance by providing workers the freedom to choose if and how they form a union. The legislation also sets up a process to ensure workers and businesses can reach a first contract and establishes penalties for employers who violate labor laws. Given the many struggles working families are facing right now and the importance of protecting workers’ rights, I hope Congress will address these important issues in the near future.

4. We have seen that the current Senate rules allow the minority party to block all legislation, requiring 60 votes to pass anything. When the filibuster rule was first made, Senators had to actually filibuster. How do you feel about the way the Senate is working now? Would you support the so called nuclear option? Why has Harry Reid not required the Republican members of the Senate to actually stand at the floor and filibuster by talking for hours on end?

Unfortunately, under current Senate rules, there is no realistic way to actually make Senators “stand at the floor and filibuster by talking for hours on end.” I am very concerned about Republican abuse of filibusters, however, and I am open to reasonable proposals to amend Senate rules to try to prevent such abuses in the future. While I look forward to considering these proposals, I have not made a decision on when or how the Senate should consider these reforms. I would also point out that the filibuster was used by Democratic Senators to block several of President Bush’s most extreme judicial nominees and some very bad legislation during the Bush years. We need to carefully consider whether completely eliminating it makes sense for the long term.

5. What current and past elected officials have you looked up to and respected?

I have always been inspired by the titans of Wisconsin’s progressive tradition like Fighting Bob LaFollette, Bill Proxmire and Gaylord Nelson. When I was young, I looked up to both John and Bobby Kennedy because of their keen political senses and their sincere desire for a safer and more tolerant society.

Thank You Very Much to Senator Feingold for taking the time to answer these questions for us!


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15 thoughts on “My Interview with Senator Feingold

  1. Please tell me why Mr. Johnson should respond to your questions for a blog entitled “Blogging Blue” where he has been criticized and denegrated for months. It would be a waste of time because none of his answers would persuade you to vote for him anyway. Thank you for providing Mr. Feingold’s answers. My decision is even more clear now.

    1. forgot, I don’t expect Ron Johnson to answer any questions, because he’s not interested in having a true dialog, nor is he interested in representing anyone who doesn’t share his worldview.

      I’d also note that while you can say what you want about Dave Westlake, the man had the guts to sit down with me and answer the questions I asked, despite the fact that I criticized him for months before we sat down together.

  2. I don’t know why Zach entertains, interacts with and allows the posting of comments on his own blog by persons who come here NOT with open minds but only to find clever ways to ridicule and contradict ANYTHING anyone here might say .
    Obviously none of these interactions “would persuade you to vote for” anyone Zack might like “anyway” or to even begin to perceive Liberals as anything other than buffoons, and yee-haaa it’s Open Season for the Superior Conservatives.
    Here the “Blues” sit, day in day out, like pheasants at a Game Farm, easy pickins, c’mon over several times a day to “criticize and denigrate for months”.

    Some people’s lack of personal irony and total lack of self-awareness never ever ceases to amaze me. Everything ForgotMyManners wrote up there describes him/her and their cohorts here to a T”.

    Ron Johnson recently refused to answer professional newspaper reporters’ questions because doing so would make his answers available to not only his supporters but also his detractors. he felt he would be “made fun of”,so he a candidate for a powerful office wants to keep his views hid so that he doesn’t have to be criticized by anyone, or laughed at by citizens.
    Yet he has available to him and his own team of professional strategists
    Russ Feingold’s concrete record of behavior spanning DECADES. and Mr. Johnson has done nothing but ridicule and denigrate that record since he first threw his expensive little pair of safety goggles into the ring. Russ can’t choose to hide to avoid that ridicule, can he? I don’t think he would but the double standard is nauseating. I think Russ by nature does not back down from a fight, nor hide. He doesn’t shirk from debate, Johnson has a sense of entitlement, so bad he doesn’t even want to submit himself to the full gamut of what happens to EVERYONE in an election. He might be criticized, so he’s just not gonna. The End.

    You answer the questions, and you take the shots because that’s fair play, it supposed to be the same for both sides. Feingold can’t hide. Zack doesn’t “hide” from YOU.
    That’s how it is done. That sis how it has always been done. IN the old times Johnson likes to wax poetic about, he would not have been able to hide from the public, open air debates were the only way. Media and technology were not there for him to manipulate.
    Once again, Johnson likes to pick and choose – hard Standards for everyone else, the Corner office treatment for Ronnie.
    Let middle management handle the Icky Stuff.

    And your “my decision is even more clear NOW”…please. That’s just more baiting and ridicule of Zach’s efforts. Your mind has been made up all along. Zach hasn’t been responsible for your decisions, don’t hang that kind of bogus “failure” on him.
    Where’s your blog? and your own clever arguments that will persuade everyone over to YOUR side? Or, like Johnson, do you prefer to have an easier path? The path of hiding and sniping.

    I don’t know why Zach allows this, I really do not.
    Don’t bother to explain, Lol, it still won’t make any sense to me. Hosting this kind of relentless single-minded and deliberate meanness from strangers will always seem like – what’s the phrase? oh yeah i can scroll up and see, it’s “a waste of time”.

    1. Annie, do YOU have an open mind? Most people on here “only find clever ways to ridicule and contradict ANYTHING” conservatives might have to say.

      But my point here is, that from a campaign perspective, I don’t think it’s a good use of time in the remaining month for Johnson to answer questions on a blog where not many/no one will be OPEN MINDED to his answers anyway. That’s a waste of time. Nor I would expect if I started a “Blogging Red” equivalent that Feingold would bother to set himself up.

      I said my decision is more clear now, because I read the answers Feingold presented and of course I do not agree with him. What’s wrong with saying that? I’m not blaming anything on Zach, it has nothing to do with him.

      Clearly I hit a nerve with you Annie. But I didn’t forget my manners simply because I disagree with you. How VERY open minded of you.

      1. A couple things Forg. As I said tojo does not owe me anything, he does owe the people of Wisconsin face time and answers to how he would govern and HIS view (not Reince’s) on the issues? We cant find that out when he is on the shrill vicki mckennas radio show.

        I would assume that since feingold knows the issues inside and out he answered my questions in 15 minutes on a plane ride to/from DC. ROJO could do the same on his plane ride to his fundraiser with millionaires and billionaires. Just a thought.

        Also Forg, I think you would agree with this, that while the site is called blogging blue, this is far from a democratic mouthpiece. I would bet at least half of the people who comment on my posts disagree with me. We have also criticized the democratic party fairly often, when they warrant it. I would say that overall this is a pretty independent site, with everyone’s views welcome.

        Finally, out of curiosity, what in the Senators answers would you disagree with?

        1. Hey Proud, good job on the interview with Russ. He still does not stand on the same side of the issues as me, hence I won’t vote for him. Great work from you just the same.

      2. forgot, I think it’s pretty clear that it isn’t just liberals who read my blog, despite the obvious bias of the blog….you being a perfect example. That being said, you’re absolutely right that there isn’t much Ron Johnson could say short of changing all his positions that would change my mind about him, but I wouldn’t mind interviewing him for the same reason I didn’t mind interviewing any of the candidates I’ve interviewed – because the voters deserve to be as informed as possible.

        Sure, I’m biased, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want folks to be as informed as possible.

        Oh, and for what it’s worth, I’d like to think my interview of Dave Westlake was pretty fair…

    2. Annie K…forgive me…but I have this strange habit of noticing when bloggers spell Zach’s name with a “k”. You spelled it a couple of times with a “k” and then with a “h”. It reminds me of the writing style of some other (not so nice) blogger. Just saying…sorry for having to point that out…it’s almost like a tourette issue with me. Carry on… 🙂

  3. Many republicans of all stripes, feel the need to completely ignore those who disagree with them. It happens national, state, and even in my small village. They completely disregard anyone who they don’t agree with, not quite understanding that if you are elected you represent the whole electorate not just your ideological brothers and sisters.

    I personally think it has to do with their complete disdain for government in general, I believe that many republican representatives are not that ideological. They have one true belief that they need to be and belong in power. The details don’t matter as long as they control the purse strings.

    We saw in the primary the stark difference between the candidates and how the republican party felt about them. Westlake worked his ass off talkin to anyone who will listen, and rojo bought tv ads staying as far as possible away from joe public. Westlake was destroyed in the primary, and rojo was the anointed one days after declaring. I understand that the call to service by dick morris is a very high calling but still.

    Rob Taylor gladly answered our questions, you could easily make the argument that it is because he has the courage of conviction and rojo doesnt.

    To answer your question, does rojo owe me answers to my questions, absolutely not. However, he does owe answers to someone not named vicki mckenna or charley sykes. Do you think rojo will have a listening session in all 72 counties each year? That question kind of answers itself doesn’t it? I hope, for the sake of our democracy, I hope the voters severely punish him for having disdain for them!

    PS: I like that zach doesn’t edit comments, it helps show the stark difference between the two sides.

  4. Hey P.P….

    where did you get the 25% then/7% now numbers for question #3? A US Dept of Labor-Bureau of Labor Statistics report from Jan. 2010 showed numbers of 20.1% unionized in 1983 vs. 12.3% as in 2009:

    “In 2009, the union membership rate–the percent of wage and salary
    workers who were members of a union–was 12.3 percent, essentially
    unchanged from 12.4 percent a year earlier, the U.S. Bureau of Labor
    Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers
    belonging to unions declined by 771,000 to 15.3 million, largely
    reflecting the overall drop in employment due to the recession. In
    1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available,
    the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7
    million union workers.”


    Union density in the United States dropped to 12 percent in 2006, down from 12.5 percent in
    2005. Overall union membership fell by 326,000 in 2006, continuing a process of decline
    that has lasted for over two decades. Private sector union density in the United States is now
    7.4 percent—down from 7.8 percent in 2005—its lowest level for almost a century.

  6. If things in the Senate go the way they are headed currently, with the Democrats maintaining a vote or two majority, and the Republicans hold to their threat to shut the government down until 2012…I’d love to see actual filibusters on the Senate floor and let c-span broadcast recalcitrant Senators reading the phone book…

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