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Russell Dana Feingold (born March 2, 1953 in Janesville, Wisconsin) is an American politician who serves as the 52nd and current President of the United States. A member of the Progressive Party, he previously served as an United States Senator for the State of Wisconsin from 1987 to 2016.
Born in Janesville, Wisconsin, to a Jewish family of Russian and Galician descent, Russ Feingold volunteered in 1972 for the presidential campaign of George McGovern. After graduating from Joseph A. Craig High School, Feingold attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, graduating in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts, later obtaining a second Bachelor of Arts from Magdalen College, at the University of Oxford, that he attended on a Rhodes Scholarship. Upon his return, Feingold received his J.D. from Harvard Law School.
After working as a private attorney, Feingold won his first electoral office, serving as a Progressive from 1983 to 1987 in the Wisconsin Senate, representing the 27th District. In 1987, a chance to rise to a national level arose : with the sudden death of Senator Wilbur J. Cohen, Governor Bronson La Follette appointed himself to the vacant seat, a controversial move as the Governor, son of President Robert La Follette, Jr., had been under an ethics investigation. La Follette had hoped that the special election scheduled for November would be a mere formality, given the status of Wisconsin as a Progressive stronghold, save for State Senator Feingold’s candidacy. In spite of his poor name recognition, La Follette managed to ride on his pledge to rely on Wisconsin citizens for most of his contributions, his pledge to eliminate the deficit and make cuts in the defense budget and his travel to each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. On 8 September 1987, the day of the Progressive primary, Feingold managed to defeat incumbent Senator La Follette in a major upset, scoring 59,67 % ; Feingold would went on to win the election by a strong 52,6 %, and would win re-election in 1992, 1998, 2004 and 2010. He would also serve as Senator with Bronson La Follette, who won on his own right in 1988.
In the Senate, Feingold would gain a reputation as a Progressive firebrand, not hesitating to criticize Presidents Gore and Edwards, even going so far as being the only Progressive senator to vote against a motion to dismiss’s Congress’s impeachment case against President John Edwards (even if he ultimately voted against conviction on all charges), pushing for a stronger welfare state, reparations for African and Native Americans, GRSM rights, fight against climate change, reinforcement of the Havana Organization, calling for abolition of the death penalty, the War on Drugs and stronger taxes on the wealthiest Americans, along with campaign finance reform and gun control.
Due to his strong liberal credentials, Feingold was frequently mentioned as a prospective presidential candidate, and would have certainly be appointed to Robert Reich’s cabinet had he been elected in 2008. After withdrawing before the Iowa caucuses in 2004, due to bad press generated by his second divorce and declining to run in 2012, Feingold’s posture was, in 2016, a longshot, who was eyeing his sixth mandate in the Senate, already 63 in a context where younger candidates could prevail. Nevertheless, Feingold declared his candidacy for President in late 2015, promising to have an amendment on limitations for campaign funding passed, to reduce income and wealth inequality, to vote laws against climate change, to abolish death penalty and to disband massive Internetz corporations.
Described as a long shot, with his Jewish confession and his three marriages as inconvenients, Feingold nevertheless portrayed himself as a elder statesman, appealing to the rural Progressive voters, far from the urban image of Progressive leaders, managing to raise 20 million dollars in January 2016,with an average donation of 27 dollars, showing his grassroots support. In a famous presidential debate, Feingold would be accused of being too old for a young nation. He quipped “I remember the times of McGovern, when the world looked up on America. Isn’t it time to make us great again?” In spite of a disappointing third place in the Iowa caucus, Feingold managed to win the New Hampshire primary and then the Super Tuesday, becoming the Progressive candidate. He picked his past competitor, Governor Julian Castro of Texas, as his running mate. Benefitting from 8 years of Conservative fatigue, Russ Feingold would win the presidential election on November, 8 2016, defeating Conservative Alex Johnson and Republican Mike Lee, becoming the first Jewish American President of the United States.
After appointing a “dream liberal” cabinet, Feingold would push towards campaign reform, introducing the 34th Amendment, allowing limits on the use of corporate and union money to fund political candidates, in order to limit “the heaviness of money in politics” : the 34th Amendment was ratified on March 27, 2019. The Feingold Administration also the extension of antitrust laws to the so-called “Internetz Bigs”, resulting in the break-up of billionaire high tech companies, while the GRSM Civil Rights Act was extended to trans people in 2017. In 2019, the Supreme Court outlawed death penalty on a federal level, as per Feingold’s demands, considering it “cruel and unusual punishment” under the 8th Amendment. In 2020, the Police Reform Act was passed to combat police misconduct, excessive force and racial bias, requiring police departments to share data with the Department of Justice and outlawing vigilante activities. Feingold’s first term was also marred by terrorist attacks aimed at the GRSM and Jewish communities. He appointed to the Supreme Court Justices Kamala Harris (2018), J. Paul Oetken (2022) and Lucy Koh (2022).
The end of Feingold’s first term was of course marked by the Wuchang Pneumonia pandemic. Following in the Executive Health Counter-Measures adopted by the Keating Administration after the SRAS pandemic, Feingold reacted by implementing strict quarantine measures for all foreign visitors, closing effectively all borders for the United States, including with the Havana Organization, and imposing lockdowns in major cities, along with encouraging companies to apply for partial unemployment for their employees and working from home. If the US economy would shrink by 10 % in 2020, Feingold’s measures allowed the Wuchang Pneumonia never to exceed a 15 per 1000 cases, an impressive fact due to the United States’ size. Russ Feingold would also devolve 2 billion dollars to have the 2020 presidential election delayed over a whole week and to guarantee postal voting, making it compulsory in the most populated states and even online and verified voting taking place in major cities. An attempt to make the Bayer vaccine compulsory in the United States was defeated in Congress, while martial law was imposed in several cities in the West Coast to stop anti-Chinese pogroms.
In spite of a massive popular backlash against these measures, Russ Feingold and his Vice President, Julian Castro, would benefit from huge approval ratings riding in the 2020 presidential election, along with a fragmented Conservative Party : Feingold won re-election on November, 3 2020, after a week of voting, defeating Conservative Artur Davis, independent Kanye West and Republican Mike Cox by 48,1 %, the first Progressive winning re-election since Al Gore in 1992.
Feingold’s second term was marked by the strong recovery of the United States economy, allowed by the virtual elimination of Chinese competition and a 1,000-billion dollars Stimulus Package turned towards helping small companies to recover and preparing America to develop its future economy, with mass investments towards the modernization of the train and power grid systems, along with the Future Energy Act marking 2050 as the threshold for an almost carbon-free economy in the country, along with the outlawing of fossil fuel for cars and heating. Although dubbed unrealistic, Feingold’s plan was hailed by ecology experts throughout the world. On 6 January 2021, Feingold was victim of an assassination attempt perpetrated by neo-pyrist veteran Ashli Babbitt, managing to be unscathed in the attack. As of 2022, Feingold’s plans are focused on his “Green Society” plans, also eyeing gun reform should the 2022 midterms be in his favor.
Internationally, l terms was marked by the Nicaragua Canal dirty bomb attack in 2018, along with the United States intervention in Venezuela, while Peru and Hispaniola were expelled from the Havana Organization. Feingold was regularly criticized for his lack of will to intervene in Hispaniola or Peru. Feingold has been considered an isolationist by foreign policy experts, due to his policies during the Wuchang Pneumonia pandemic and his push for renewable energy, marking the lack of interest in the Middle East. His policies align towards China ; during a state visit in 2019 in Germany, Feingold was reportedly shocked by some DVP deputies in the Reichstag turning their back on him during his speech, an avowed antisemitic move.
Feingold was married to Sue Levine from 1977 to 1986, then to Mary Speeschneider from 1991 to 2005. In 2013, he married Christine Ferdinand, a fellow from his Oxford days, who served as First Lady during his administration.