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Feingold to Netroots Nation: Call Out Corporate Democrats

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From The Nation

If it is wrong for Republicans to fuel their campaigns with corporate cash, then it is wrong for Democrats to do so.

That was the no-hold-barred message that Russ Feingold brought to Netroots Nation.

"Sometimes we have to be very direct with the Democratic Party itself," the former senator from Wisconsin told the thousands of bloggers, thinkers and activists who packed the great hall at the Minneapolis Convention Center. "I fear the Democratic Party is in danger of losing its identity."

Feingold was talking about the decision by some Democrats that the party must form so-called "super-PACS" -- political action committees that use corporate money in much the same way that Republicans have.

If Democrats fuel their campaigns with corporate cash, the senator said, "we'll lose our souls."

"I don't just think it's wrong. I think it's a dumb strategy," he continued, to the enthusiastic crowd hushed and listening to a speech that went far beyond the standard rhetoric of this pre-presidential election year. "Democrats should never be in the business of taking unlimited corporate money." It's dancing with the devil." [The voters] will see us as corporate-lite."

Anyone who thought they were going to hear a feel-good speech from Russ Feingold got a surprise.

The former senator from Wisconsin, long a favorite of the progressive blogosphere, did not come to suggest that all the world's problems were caused by awful Republicans or that all the solutions would come from Democrats.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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