Senators, Baldwin move to honor La Follette, Progressive magazine

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Posted by on May 01, 2009 at 11:41:21:

In Reply to: Progressive magazine celebrates 100 years posted by on April 27, 2009 at 10:26:17:

Senators, Baldwin move to honor La Follette, Progressive magazine

by John Nichols TCT 5/01/2009 10:57 am

On the eve of this weekend's celebrations of the 100th anniversary of The Progressive, Wisconsin Sens. Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl have reintroduced legislation written to honor the life and work of the magazine's founder, former Wisconsin governor and senator Robert M. La Follette Sr.

One Senate bill introduced Thursday by Feingold, D-Middleton, and Kohl, D-Milwaukee, would authorize the president to award the champion of the progressive movement a Congressional Gold Medal. A second bill would direct the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins to commemorate La Follette's life and legacy.

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, announced Thursday that she would introduce both bills next week in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Feingold, who with Baldwin is expected to participate in this weekend's celebration at the Monona Terrace Convention Center, declared Thursday that: "Bob La Follette was an unwavering champion of government reform whose leadership of the progressive movement remains a source of pride and inspiration to this day. No one has ever fought harder for the people of Wisconsin, or fought harder against corruption and cronyism, than 'Fighting Bob' La Follette. The legislation we introduce today gives La Follette's distinguished legacy the distinction it deserves."

Kohl added that: "Bob La Follette left a lasting impression on our country with his work on behalf of women's suffrage, racial equality and diminishing corruption in government. We should follow his example of leadership and continue to pursue many of the values he embodied. This legislation gives him the national recognition he deserves and allows us to honor his hard work for the people of Wisconsin."

Baldwin, who holds the U.S. House seat once occupied by La Follette, called the former congressman, governor and senator " a patriot who put the common good above special interests, fairness above favoritism."

"It was his lifelong mission to 'make real the promise of democracy,'" added Baldwin.

That mission focused on opposing war and imperialism, battling corporate power and promoting women's suffrage and civil rights -- stances that earned La Follette a measure of scorn in his lifetime. Since his death in 1925, however, the former senator has been frequently honored. Historians surveyed in the early 1980s were asked to rank the "ten greatest Senators in the nation's history" based on "accomplishments in office" and "long range impact on American history."

La Follette tied for first, along with 19th-century legislator, cabinet member and frequent presidential candidate Henry Clay.

Editors and friends of The Progressive, which was founded in 1909 as "La Follette's Weekly," will be celebrating this weekend with celebrities including actor Robert Redford, writers such as Naomi Klein and veteran activists such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

For more details regarding the celebration, visit The Progressive's website.

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