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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 7/21/15

Who is Today's Version of "Fighting Bob" La Follett?

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Author 8595
Message Stephen Unger

Why the shortage of progressives with guts in our congress today?

There is no doubt that there are plenty of principled, courageous Americans. Edward Snowden is an obvious example. Why aren't any of them in congress?

One explanation is that relatively few Americans would vote for such people. Why not? Perhaps the problem is that the general public is seldom exposed to clear explanations of the kinds of ideas that would be championed by modern versions of Fighting Bob. They certainly don't hear many such explanations from those currently in government. So, in a sense, we have a positive feedback situation; with few, if any, Fighting Bobs in office to educate and inspire voters, it is hard to promulgate the ideas that would motivate people to elect such fighters.

Reinforcing this effect is the fact that the mass media, the source of information and political ideas for most people, are almost totally dominated by the hirelings of the wealthy elite. To some extent this has always been the case, but it has become even more of a factor as the media have become concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

One possible ray of hope is the internet, which offers an alternative channel to promulgate fresh ideas. This channel may become more effective as more and more people begin to utilize it. One would expect that it would have a big influence on young people, who are accustomed to using it as a source of ideas and data. Unfortunately, I've seen no signs that significant numbers of young people are riled up enough to take action to turn things around.

What lies ahead?

Hillary Clinton will probably win the Democratic nomination, and Sanders will probably be a good sport and endorse her candidacy. Liberals, horrified by whoever the Republicans nominate, will then "reluctantly" support Clinton. Her election campaign will, in substance, ignore issues of liberals and be tuned to attract middle of the road conservatives. I won't try to predict who will win the election, except to say it won't be the American people.


[1] Wikipedia, "Fiorello H. La Guardia", Wikipedia

[2] Wikipedia, "George W. Norris", Wikipedia

[3] John Nichols, "About Robert 'Fighting Bob' La Follette",

[4] Bernie Sanders, "Bernie Sanders On The Issues", Sanders' website

[5] Free Press, "Snowden deserves leniency, Sanders says", The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press, January 6, 2014

[6] , "Ron Paul launches clemency petition for Edward Snowden", , February 14, 2014

[7] , "Bernie Sanders: It's Time For Immigration Reform", The Huffington Post, 6/19/2015

[8] Zaid Jilani, "Elizabeth Warren, 25 Other Senators Call Out NSA For Misleading The Public, Demand Answers",, July 3, 2013

[9] Brendan Bordelon, "Democratic congressman urges 'leniency' for Edward Snowden", Daily Caller, 1/2/2014

Comments are welcomed and can be sent to me at unger(at)cs(dot)columbia(dot)edu

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Stephen Unger Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I am an engineer. My degrees are in electrical engineering and my work has been in the digital systems area, mainly digital logic, but also computer organization, software and theory. I am a Professor, Emeritus, Computer Science and Electrical (more...)

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