Posted by: Genny Colby | March 21, 2012

While America Sleeps

While America Sleeps

by Russ Feingold

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I am going to start out with a slight disclaimer…Russ Feingold is one of my political heroes.  Mr Feingold was elected to the US Senate from the state of WI in 1992.  This was one year before I was eligible to vote, but when I was really starting to pay more attention to politics, elections, and the goings on in the world, preparing for my first year of voting.  My mother, being the liberal hippie that she is, had always discussed politics and world events with, made sure we were paying attention to the world around us, but really until we hit about 17 or 18, most of our attention is focused on more immediate issues of the teenage life.

While America Sleeps  is Mr Feingold’s experiences, observations, and lessons learned from being part of the US Senate both before and after the tragic and direction altering events of 9/11.  He had the opportunity to see this country and how it changed after these events in ways most of us did not.

Mr Feingold writes in a way that makes you feel like you are having a conversation.  You don’t have to have a high level of knowledge about politics, the world, or the economy.  A basic understanding of how it all works is a good starting point.  He does not talk down to the reader, but rather writes as if he is talking to you over a cup of coffee.  I found it to be an engaging read, even one I could read right before bed and still not want to put down.

Mr Feingold takes the time to explain what was happening in Washington D.C. as well as in him home state of WI.  He shows the differences of what was important, how the events of 9/11 effected people, and shares his thoughts on these differences.  He also shares his experiences (that are not classified) in the different Senate committees of which he was a member, and his travels overseas during his tenure in the Senate.  These descriptions of his travels are especially important as they show how what happened on 9/11 was not necessarily an isolated event and how important it is to foster relationships and pay attention to the rest of the world.

Mr Feingold was not always the most popular of Senators.  He did not always make the easy choices, ask the easy questions, or stick the party line.  In this book he is able to explain some of his choices, why he stood up for the things he did, and to remind us that his job was to protect the Constitution, not necessarily focus on playing the political game or worry about his re-election.  He fought for what he believed the people of WI, and the people of the nation, needed.  He was the only Senator to vote “no” on the Patriot Act.  He explains that is was not because he did not believe in most of what this piece of legislation was aimed to accomplish, but because there was too much leeway, too much ambiguity in it and wanted to clarify certain points to protect the rights we hold so dear.

Mr Feingold also speaks a great deal about the war in Iraq.  This is an especially telling part of this book as it shows how much politics really played a role in this war, what it really meant, and how much misleading information was presented not only to Congress, but to the American people.

In 2010, Mr Feingold lost his bid for re-election.  He talks about the changes in the political realm and especially those in the state of WI and how these changes led not only to his loss, but to changes in our political landscape nationwide.  I was very sad and disappointed in the state of WI at his loss.  Since we had moved out of state by this by, I was not able to vote for him.  When we lost him in the Senate, the people of WI and the nation as a whole lost a voice that would ask the tough questions, stand up for our rights and our Constitution, was not afraid to cross party lines to get the job done, and who was not afraid to go vote against party lines if he believed that was the right vote.  We all lost, in my opinion, an invaluable advocate for our country.  Now it is up to us to stand up for our rights and not let the political games of our government take precedent over what we need to do to move our nation forward.

I know I have very liberal views, but I do highly recommend this book to anyone, even if you don’t always agree with Mr Feingold’s (or my) point of view, he has some very enlightening things to say about our responsibilities to the people of our country and those with whom we share this world.  He does not ask you to agree with him on every (or any) point, but to listen with an open mind and make choices for yourself and not because someone else told you this was right.  Seek out information, ask questions, and most importantly, do not simply accept things as the status qua.   Our country was founded by the people, for the people, so that we may have the right to make our own choices.  These are certain rights we should not be so quick to give up simply out of fear of “what may happen.”

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Responses

  1. I liked Feingold and was disappointed by the results of that election. WI lost out on good representation.

    I haven’t read this book. Another to add to my list!


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