Friday, January 12, 2018

Is my discomfort with Feinstein's re-election merely ageism?


My Senator, Diane Feinstein, is testing my principles.

I've never much liked her, ever since she was a prissily conventional mayor of my then-wildly unconventional city. I don't think I've ever voted for her. She moved on to Washington in 1992 (one of those evanescent "years of the woman") and has pursued a solid but conventional course as a pragmatic Democrat. Unlike her California Senate colleague Barbara Boxer, she voted for the Iraq war, later saying she'd been "misled" by the GW Bush administration. By the time of that vote she'd been in Washington ten years and ought to have known a thing or two.

And she is currently the oldest sitting Senator in a body which is "the oldest Senate ever." Born in 1933, she was fully an adult before the tumultuous 1960s. For goodness sakes, her daughter took retirement, though not quite joining the Medicare tribe, in 2012! Isn't it time for someone younger to represent California's millennial-dominated, racially diverse electorate? I know I want a Democratic presidential candidate who'll be under 60 in 2020; it's younger folks' turn. I wish Feinstein had decided to retire instead of running again for a term that would end when she is 91. 91!

But she's running -- and I have to ask myself whether my discomfort at the prospect of her re-election is merely ageism.

In the last 10 years, she's used her perch to do work that matters to me, breaking with the "intelligence community" (beware of bullshit whenever anyone uses that phrase without scare quotes) to investigate the Bush regime's torture policies -- and put into public view some tiny portion of the findings. It was Obama, not Ms. Oh-so-uptight Senator Feinstein, who kept the torture report under wraps.

Is my discomfort with Senator Feinstein's re-election merely ageism?

Lately she's done this sort of work again, releasing testimony about Fusion GPS' role in the investigation of Trump's Russia connections that the Republicans were trying to hide.

Is my discomfort with Senator Feinstein's re-election merely ageism?

And she most recently put herself out as the Senator who asked Trump to agree to a "Clean DREAM Act" thereby confusing him so much that he verbally contradicted his own cruel policy on DREAMERS and other immigrants.

Is my discomfort with Senator Feinstein's re-election merely ageism?

Yes, I know, on some level this current Feinstein-in-polite-resistance to Trump/GOPer horrors is the very good product of the tireless work of Indivisible, Move-On, Bay Resistance, and thousands of other activists letting her know her constituents want more and better from her. But hey, that's how democracy is supposed to work and we're getting something for our efforts.

Is my discomfort with Senator Feinstein's re-election merely ageism?

I can't answer my own question right now. I am deeply uncomfortable with the idea that I might well vote for an alternative in the June primary just because Feinstein seems "too old." That's not good enough, a violation of my principles. Kevin de Leon, her challenger, has to make the sale with me. He seems to have been a good and useful state senator (I've heard him speak for immigrant rights), but he has to make the case that he'd be a better choice. Feinstein is doing the right stuff for re-election -- let democracy flourish!

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