Former U.S. senator talks Trump, American democracy’s future


Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

Former Wisconsin Sen. Russell Feingold speaks to students about the current state of politics on Friday. Feingold answered questions from students during a Q&A session hosted by the Department of Political Science.

Anamaria Sayre, Reporter

Former Wisconsin Sen. Russell Feingold told a crowd of students in Scott Hall on Friday that the state of American politics saddens him, as he offered steps that could be taken to revive it.

“I can’t start without saying how sad I feel today,” Feingold explained as he opened with his thoughts on Trump and the current state of American politics. “There are moments when you can’t take it.”

Feingold, who served as a senator for 18 years, spoke to about 25 students in a speech and Q&A session hosted by the Department of Political Science. In clear condemnation of President Donald Trump, he described the president’s actions as “racist and anti-immigrant,” and his approach to foreign policy “brutal.”

After he was defeated by his Republican successor in 2011, Feingold has remained active in the political scene, running for reelection in 2016 and becoming involved with various political initiatives.

Feingold spoke about his new organization, Legit Action, which is working toward abolishing the electoral college and supporting candidates or movements that Feingold feels will take American democracy in the right direction.

SESP senior Josh O’Neil said he enjoyed hearing about the former senator’s new Legit Action activities.

“Once a senator leaves public life, sometimes they like to go and write or do something else,” O’Neil said. “But I liked to hear that he is still engaged in a lot of state issues.”

Feingold shared his thoughts about the future of the presidency and what the country might be looking for in a leader in years to come.

With regards to who will follow Trump as president, Feingold addressed rumors that had been circulating about Oprah Winfrey’s possible candidacy following her Golden Globes speech. And while Winfrey specifically might not be the right candidate, he said someone as different or unexpected may actually be the right move for Democrats.

“Maybe this is what we need given the way people process political information,” Feingold said.

Medill senior Joshua Burton said he appreciated Feingold’s blunt attitude about the president and his ideas for the future of American democracy.

“His frankness was kind of refreshing,” Burton said. “Just to hear him talk honestly about a lot of the stuff that has been going on was pretty cool.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @anasayre