It’s a principle that too few candidates understand: In order to make a successful run for public office, it’s best not to run on what a great guy you are. Instead, positive politicians succeed by making ordinary folks feel that the campaign is really about them. Howard Dean got as far as he did in 2004, and gained the chairmanship of the national Democratic Party, because he helped people feel that they had the power to make a real impact in the politics that they cared about.
Well, Howard Dean has promised not to run for President in 2008, but it looks like another prominent Democrat is working with Dean’s playbook, or has at least taken a step in that direction. Russ Feingold, a US Senator from Wisconsin, has started an organization called the Progressive Patriots.
So far, the Progressive Patriots web page consists of an activist effort to repeal the anti-liberty provisions of the Patriot Act, and a fundraising effort to gather financial support for progressive candidates running for Congress in 2006.
This beginning makes sense for Senator Feingold, as he can proudly declare himself to be the only US Senator who had the wisdom to vote against the infamous Patriot Act when the Bush Administration shoved the anti-liberty legislation through Congress. Also, Feingold is smart enough to know that progressives are looking for a rallying cry that can last longer than the debate over a particular bill or controversial Bush Administration nominee. The 2006 congressional election is more important than most Americans realize. If progressives can get sufficiently organized in time, the Bush Administration’s power to cram its extremist agenda down the throat of the American public could end in just one and a half years. 2006 could prove to be a spectacular, nonviolent progressive revolution against the current Republican nationalist government.
So, it seems that Russ Feingold is on the path to running an exciting national Congressional effort in 2006, and a powerful campaign for President in 2008. Of course, being on the path and being ready are not the same thing. You’ve got my attention, Mr. Feingold. Now, let’s see what you can do with it.