As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Good Enough For Me

This is an endorsement that matters.

Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, a progressive icon who briefly considered seeking the Democratic presidential nomination himself, said he voted in Tuesday's Wisconsin primary for Barack Obama.

Asked directly about his choice, Feingold answered directly.

"I voted for Barack Obama," said the senator, who indicated that he was "extremely likely" to cast his superdelegate vote at the Democratic National Convention for his colleague from Illinois [...]

"I really do think that, at the gut level, this is a chance to do something special," Feingold said of the Obama campaign and the potential of an Obama presidency, which he said has "enormous historical opportunities for America and for our relationship with the world."

I would have worked for Russ Feingold if he entered the Presidential race. So his vote carries a lot of weight with me. Not that I was on the fence; I cast my vote for Obama on February 5. But Feingold's blessing helps me in thinking about my decision.

This also speaks to Obama's ability to work with a Democratic Senate. David Sirota's article in In These Times explains how a Democratic President interacts with the Congress will define their legacy.

Clinton has promised to be a “hands-on” president and criticized Obama for being vague about his policy prescriptions—a surefire sign that her administration would mean heavy executive branch influence over Congress. As political theorist James David Barber might say, Clinton would be an “active” archetype, involved in the most granular details of the legislative process.

In and of itself, this is not a negative. Passing some of American history’s most important legislation has required such presidential engagement, from the New Deal program of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the landmark bills of the ’60s shepherded through Congress by Lyndon Johnson [...]

The Nation’s Chris Hayes recently wrote that Obama’s overarching “diagnosis of what’s wrong with politics is the way it is conducted rather than for whom.” Put another way, it’s not the “what” but the “how.” Fix how politics is waged—build a “working majority,” as Obama says—and solutions to big problems will come.

This is a theme of famed activist Saul Alinsky, whose community organizations Obama worked with as a young man in Chicago.

As Alinsky wrote in Rules for Radicals, the best organizers possess “a belief that if people have the power to act in the long run, they will, most of the time, reach the right decisions.” A President Obama would probably apply such a principle to Congress.

I truly believe that Obama's method would work best, especially if he gives people like Russ Feingold room to run. Obama is interested in setting the agenda, and letting experienced legislators who are familiar with the details work the bills, and then put into law things that are "more progressive than he is," as Sirota says.

On a completely different note, why wouldn't Tavis Smiley just back up this State of the Black Union event by two weeks, holding it right before the Mississippi primary? It would have been far more intelligent than to chide Obama for not doing all he can to win the Texas and Ohio primaries.

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