Russ Feingold lost his U.S. Senate race. I haven’t been following Wisconsin politics since I left 14 years ago, but this makes me sad. The last time that I really cared about the U.S. political landscape was 1992. I was 21 and in college at the University of Wisconsin and was voting for the first time. Bill Clinton was generating excitement, especially on college campuses, but I was more interested in Russ Feingold’s campaign. He was a no-name state senator, running against incumbent Bob Kasten. He seemed honest, funny and down-to-earth. He painted his campaign promises on his garage door so that everyone would be able to hold him to them. I remember people saying that if he won, he’d change. The amazing thing is that he didn’t. In 3 terms in the Senate, he has continued to stay humble, while also crossing the aisle at times and voting against popular, but misguided policies like the Patriot Act.
After the 1992 election, I remember thinking that real change was coming. I know that the main reason that I was so excited in 1992 was because it was my first time being a part of the political process. Of course, as we all know, not much ever changes in U.S. politics. I’ve come to realize and accept that. Russ Feingold was an exception and seeing him lose, despite having lived up to his high standards, makes me sad.