An Open Letter to Russ Feingold

“We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”–Louis D. Brandeis (Helped develop Americans’ “Right to Privacy.” Legal scholars cite him and his opinions on “Free Speech.” Went after the Wall Street fat cats and the crooked bankers in his book, Other People’s Money and How They Use It back in 1914.)

Here’s another one:

“The real difference between democracy and oligarchy is poverty and wealth. Wherever men rule by reason of their wealth, whether they be few of many, that is an oligarchy, and where the poor rule, that is democracy.” –Aristotle (Greek)

If you really want to rile a politician, call him “oligarch.” It confuses the hell out of them.

For the record: OH-lĭ-gark  n. A member of a small governing faction.

And yet we elect second-hand millionaires to represent us. We blame Washington for being “out of touch” with real America, but we never question our own decision to put them there.

Maybe we put our faith in millionaires because we hope to be like them someday, and if they know how to become millionaires, maybe if we vote for them, they’ll go to Washington D.C. and make us millionaires, too. But that never seems to happen. In fact, the opposite seems to be true.

Frankly, I think that, despite all the “American Dream” rhetoric, the millionaire die has already been cast. It’s likely that the only trickle down that you’ll see from a millionaire would be the result of the Estate Tax (I’m sorry) Death Tax.

When you and I become dead millionaires, we’ll be glad we fought against it.

Look, I know this sounds like sour grapes, but our collective memory lasted only 23 months? What are we, goldfish? 23 months of political capital? That’s it? If you told me to lose 10 pounds, I’d ask for 24 months.

I’m really proud that I participated in democracy yesterday (BTW:  I know that Americans technically live in a Republic and not a Democracy, but I’m using James Madison’s definition of “representative democracy”).

Anyway, I think we all feel a twinge of pride when we vote.

But what if that wasn’t what we were participating in? What if it was an Oligarchy? Would we be equally proud?

Thanks for being one of the good ones, Russ.


There are 4 comments

  1. David Price wrote

    Excellent article.
    Something to keep in mind, the banks are holding over one trillion (most of which belong to taxpayers) in cash and aren’t loaning it and big corporations have about the same amount but haven’t been hiring.
    Now that they have their whores in the house don’t be surprised if this thing miraculously starts turning around in time for 2012.
    I’m not a conspirasy buff, but something is fishy.

    Be well,

  2. I look forward to a post about Twinkies or belly buttons.

  3. Oligarchs scored big when they dumped Feingold as I’m sure they’ve been hot to do for many years. I was glad to hear that he’s not going away.

    Robert Reich blogs this on oligarchy:

    “Not only is income and wealth in America more concentrated in fewer hands than it’s been in 80 years, but those hands are buying our democracy as never before — and they’re doing it behind closed doors.

    Hundreds of millions of secret dollars are pouring into congressional and state races in this election cycle.”

  4. Hello, and thank you for a nice, passionate, and level-headed-at-the-same-time blogpost. He hasn’t even left office yet, but I already miss Russ. Do we really need another millionaire in the Senate?