In the News

Since founding LegitAction, Russ Feingold has published several opinion pieces on the threats our nation faces and what we’re fighting for.

We Know Brett Kavanaugh Has Lied Already
September 17, 2018
This nation is suffering a significant breakdown of civility, bipartisanship and ethical behavior. For the Trump administration and the Republican leaders who enable it, truth is no longer a cherished value. To them, lying seems to be part of the strategy, a cynical weapon to be used against their opponents.

In fact, there’s clear evidence showing that Kavanaugh lied under oath during the 2006 confirmation hearing for his spot on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. I should know: I was one of the senators on the Judiciary Committee who questioned him.

Thousands of Red Caps on Capitol Hill
July 25, 2018
After the impeachment and resignation of President Nixon, President Gerald R. Ford declared that “Our long national nightmare is over.” If Trumpmania takes permanent root among so many of our new generation, our current national nightmare may have just begun.

Trump and his cruel and divisive politics must be clearly repudiated both electorally and culturally. Having lived through Watergate and Richard Nixon’s desecration of the White House, I note that no teenagers over the years have been touring the Hill with “Nixon’s the One” baseball caps. That’s because bi-partisan and non-partisan consensus developed to terminate a Presidency that threatened the rule of law and diminished our greatness.

The Crosscheck Voter Database Is a Security Threat
February 2, 2018
The past two years have seen one sign after another of the dangers of hostile interference in our election system. One of the most basic lessons learned should be to secure our voter systems the best that we can. Crosscheck is an abysmal fail at learning that lesson. As voters, we should demand better.

Secretaries of state are charged with securing citizens’ data. By participating in Crosscheck, and continuing that participation in light of all the security concerns, secretaries of state are failing that responsibility. They ought to pull out of Crosscheck immediately.

Can We Still Trust the Marketplace of Ideas to Win Out?
January 13, 2018
Skirting the not new in politics. What’s new are the social media platforms that can help people, or presidents, spread false news at record pace, and the resulting threat is not only to reputations or even public policy, but to our very democratic institutions.

False news that sells a tax plan almost entirely on false analysis and empty promises is a big problem, and must be condemned, but false news that undermines our institutions is an existential threat to our democracy.

US campaign finance laws resemble legalized bribery. We must reform them.
November 8, 2017
An opaque system of legalized bribery and legalized extortion is not an outrageous way to characterize the state of our nation’s federal campaign finance laws.

Over the past few years, real campaign finance reform has gone the way of voting rights and gun control. There is no longer a bipartisan starting point where discussion and negotiation could begin. The Republican party has caved in to its right flank and put party interests ahead of the country’s.

Will the fate of America’s democracy be decided by this US supreme court case?
October 3, 2017
Our system of government is meant to protect the power of voters and to result in a government that represents the voters. Instead, we now have a system deliberately meant to manipulate and beat the voters in order to lock in a government that intentionally does not represent the voters.

We need courts to invalidate the practice of hyper-partisan gerrymandering, and force state legislatures to redraw the districts and maps that make voters irrelevant and our elections a rubber stamp.

Trump’s voter suppression efforts must be defeated. Here’s one thing we can do
September 5, 2017
[AVR] is one of the single greatest ways to improve the legitimacy of our elections, and in turn our democracy. It results in a default “opt-out” system, whereby people have to take action to opt out of being registered, rather than having to go out of their way to register to vote. Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state, captured it perfectly when he said: “Citizens should not have to opt in to their fundamental right to vote.”

The right to vote, and peoples’ exercising of it, is a central pillar of the legitimacy of our democracy. Our system of government – the balance of power, the accountability to the people – only works if people vote.

How the Republican party quietly does the bidding of white supremacists
August 19, 2017
The lesson from Charlottesville is not how dangerous the neo-Nazis are. It is the unmasking of the Republican party leadership. In the wake of last weekend’s horror and tragedy, let us finally, finally rip off the veneer that Trump’s affinity for white supremacy is distinct from the Republican agenda of voter suppression, renewed mass incarceration and the expulsion of immigrants.

There is a direct link between Trump’s comments this week and those policies, so where is the outrage about the latter? Where are the Republican leaders denouncing voter suppression as racist, un-American and dangerous? Where are the Republican leaders who are willing to call out the wink (and the direct endorsement) from President Trump to the white supremacists and acknowledge their own party’s record and stance on issues important to people of color as the real problem for our country?

America steals votes from felons. Until it stops, our democracy will be weakened
July 18, 2017
As we face the daily jaw-dropping revelations about the Trump campaign and administration’s actions, keeping our focus on restoring legitimacy to our elections and our democracy has never been more important, and ending the historic wrong of felony disenfranchisement absolutely must be part of our agenda.

Today, felony disenfranchisement bars roughly 6.1 million citizens from the ballot box – one in 13 African Americans nationally.

This denial of a right so inherent to democracy – and to citizenship – is not based on respect for the law, but is rather a historic and deliberate effort to prevent black people from voting.

Trump’s next attack on democracy: mass voter suppression
June 30, 2017
The most important aspect of any democratic election is participation. A democracy gains its legitimacy through elections only so far as those elections represent the will of the people. Limit voter participation, and there is a direct correlation between the legitimacy of an election and the democratic system. President Trump and Vice-President Pence’s “election integrity” commission is unequivocally declaring war on voters – our democratic legitimacy be damned.

The commission is requesting the same information that Republican state governments have used to create hyper-partisan gerrymandering and enact restrictive voter ID laws. Such measures have been disturbingly successful at suppressing voting of minority and low-income citizens, groups that tend to vote with Democrats. This assault on voters might seem farfetched, except that we’ve seen this strategy too many times before to claim ignorance now.

America risks one-party rule if gerrymandering isn’t stopped
June 16, 2017
A bedrock of our democratic legitimacy could rise or fall with the US supreme court’s decision whether to hear a case on hyper-partisan gerrymandering.

The supreme court has never before ruled a state’s redistricting plan unconstitutional because of partisan gerrymandering. While the court is often loathe to overturn its own precedent, it has done so in the past when our country has learned hard lessons from its own history.

Donald Trump acts like an illegitimate president for a reason
May 11, 2017
The American people did not really choose Donald Trump. His presidency exists without the support of the majority of voters and, in turn, without a true mandate from the American people. Trump walks and talks instead like an authoritarian, and seems to believe he is above the people and the law, and need not answer to either.

Firing the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey, demonstrates a whole new level of defiance of the rule of law and our foundational system of checks and balances. More bluntly, it proves just how dangerous an illegitimate president is to our democracy. His actions do not only undermine the legitimacy and credibility of his presidency; they are a direct threat to our constitutionalism and our democratic legitimacy.

The National Popular Vote Would Empower Minorities
April 5, 2017
The electoral college marginalizes the vast majority of minorities. If elections instead were determined by the National Popular Vote, minorities in every state would gain an increased voice and would decide national elections.

Democrats will cater to minority voters all the more in a popularly-decided election, because their success depends upon it. Similarly, Republicans will strive to chip even a few points off the Democrats’ support with minorities, again putting focus on issues most important to minorities. Minority voters in non-swing states would also become just as important as those in swing states.

If Gorsuch is confirmed, the legitimacy of the US supreme court won’t recover
March 20, 2017
Never before has Senate leadership so openly and intentionally played political games with our highest court. Already, the legitimacy of the supreme court has taken a severe blow because of it. But, if Gorsuch is confirmed, it would lock in a dangerous precedent from which the legitimacy of our highest court might never recover.

And it is not just the supreme court that will be affected, as the strategy will be used to block appointments to lower courts. This is a slippery slope that ends with decimating the legitimacy of an entire branch of government, and the resulting checks and balances on which our democracy depends.

The Very Legitimacy of Our Democracy Is Under Threat
March 10, 2017
We are now facing the biggest crisis of legitimacy of our democracy in a generation or more. But the crisis has been building for years.

To understand the roots of our current crisis, we must first look to the orchestrated attack on the pillars of our democracy that began seven years ago, starting with the lawless Citizens United decision. In the years that followed, the attack continued with the recent wave of racially targeted voter-suppression laws and last year’s hijacking of the Supreme Court by the GOP, capped off by a president who lost the popular-vote margin by nearly 3 million votes.