The Battle for America 2010: Wisconsin Senate Race a Bellwether for the Nation
Wisconsin's startling U.S. Senate race between Russ Feingold and Ron Johnson has transcended party politics and transformed into the national poster child for this country's deep dissatisfaction with Congress, bloated government, reckless spending, redistributionist socialism, and the institutionalized ruling elite in Washington. From a wildly unpopular health care bill, to Washington's blind eye to America's immigration problem, to a pork-laden trillion dollar "stimulus" bill which was more like a sedative, the American voters that incumbents have not listened to are more than angry. They are revolting.
A recent Daily Kos public policy poll has the newcomer and political outsider, Johnson, far ahead of Feingold, 52 to 41. That an entrenched Democrat incumbent is trailing that badly in a state which Obama carried handily in 2008 is more than a bad sign for Democrats this fall. It's an ominous warning to all members of Washington's aristocracy. Similar phenomena are being experienced in races all over the country. From the primary victory of Christine O'Donnell in Delaware to Carl Paladino's victory in New York, the same message to the political establishment is winning the day: the party in Washington is over.
America's new revolution is not unlike the infamous 18th century French Revolution. During a period of political upheaval, the French monarchy which had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three short years as an out-of-touch French aristocracy crumpled and gave way to simple principles of citizenship and inalienable rights. Similarly, the entitlement and business-as-usual mentality in Washington is giving way to common sense and the easily-understood notion that Washington cannot spend money it doesn't have for things we don't need.
Our young president's slow political execution is symbolic of the fate of France's Louis XVI. Yet, both Michelle and Barack are planning visits to Wisconsin to support Feingold. That a president with soaring disapproval ratings and his wife -- who has been compared to Marie Antoinette -- would come to Wisconsin and stump for Feingold is clearly a sign of ruling class desperation. Feingold spokesman John Kraus said Feingold is excited about Michelle coming, and looked forward to her visit -- a far cry from Obama's Labor Day visit, when Feingold made himself invisible.
The conspicuous consumption by the noble class in the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette at Versailles continued despite the financial burden on the populace. The excessive consumption by the political elite and ruling class in Washington today is no less conspicuous. High unemployment plagued Louis XVI's France like it plagues the Rust Belt of America, and as everyday Americans look to Washington and see the rock star, Kobe beef-eating, exorbitant vacationing lifestyles of the rich and elected, they are looking for heads to roll. And roll they will this November, starting with Russ Feingold.
The revolt against Washington's political ruling class is not fueled by class envy. It is, rather, a natural desire on the part of the American people that members of Congress be like them, understand them, and don't look down their noses at them. The germinating seed may well have been when Barack Obama described small-town Americans as bitterly clinging to "guns or religion." This statement revealed Obama's belief that these inferior, less enlightened Americans are in need of caretaking by the political elite. In typical elitist fashion, Obama later justified himself by pointing out that he had said "what everybody knows is true." The common herd apparently does not understand life's elusive truths, requiring the ruling class to discount what the ruled say and to presume what they truly mean.
It is pretty sad when a Washington insider of nearly twenty years in the Senate is still considered the "junior" senator in Wisconsin. So the Feingold/Johnson race has become even more than a referendum on the Obama administration. It keenly symbolizes America's dissatisfaction with career politicians and Washington's ruling class. It is a cry for a return to a citizen legislature where serving one's country was more of a patriotic sacrifice than a financial opportunity or career choice. The success of Ron Johnson in the polls is probative evidence that many Americans feel the words "career" and "politician" should not be used together in the same sentence. They are hungry for something genuine and new -- politicians who don't become out-of-touch celebrities.
Ron Johnson has never run for public office. Russ Feingold has done nothing but. This November may remind everybody that our founding fathers clearly intended that Congress be the arm of government closest to the people -- something it cannot be if it is too far removed or too insulated from the people. Feingold complains that Johnson is "outside the mainstream," which is precisely what many Americans are looking for this November.
Americans have had it with ruling class Washington elites whose self-serving votes in Congress are almost always calculated to preserve the gravy train public office provides. The Ivy League political thoroughbreds that make up Congress and the Washington machine no longer relate to or speak for the people who pay for their salaries, lavish vacations, political junkets, or high society dinners. The wealthiest county in America is not, as you might expect, King County, Washington -- the home of Microsoft -- or Harris County, Texas, near the home of several of the world's largest oil companies.
Sadly, it is Loudoun County, Virginia, followed closely by Fairfax County, Virginia. Both surround Washington, D.C., and both have median household incomes of over $105,000 per year. In fact, six of the ten richest counties in America are near Washington, D.C., and are fueled by American tax dollars. The Washington elite are out of touch, and will soon be out of a job.
Washington has become the pot at the end of the rainbow for many professional government employees and politicians -- a place of unimaginable personal opportunity where politicians become celebrities and rub elbows with the Hollywood elite and billionaire magnates. It's no wonder that holding on to public office and lifetime federal posts has become the number one priority of Washington insiders. Representing us is a distant second. What is needed is a congressional "Son of Sam" law which prevents Washington politicians from profiting from their political crimes. The anti-incumbent, anti-Washington insider mentality of today's voters has led most Americans to the conclusion that with year-round legislative sessions and full-time salaried representatives, only mandatory term limits will restore real representation. A recent Fox News poll showed that 78% of American voters favor limiting the terms of politicians like Russ Feingold.
This November, the American people are going to take the first step in what will likely be a long revolt against the elitists in Washington. They will likely send a strong message that we need to return to the early days of our republic, when serving in Congress was viewed as a civic duty, a necessary evil, and a part-time job. This November, starting in Wisconsin, they will be storming the Bastille.