U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s announcement Monday that she will run for reelection, along with the immediate and calculated support she received from some leading supporters, encapsulates everything that’s wrong with the national Democratic Party and our overall political system.
We can only hope Feinstein’s hubris leads us to a major revolution inside the party.
The issue is not Feinstein’s age, at least for me. She’s 84 and has served in the Senate since 1992. This would be her seventh term in office if she’s reelected. But I can back a 110-year-old politician if she stands up clearly for ideas such as universal health care, free college tuition, student loan forgiveness, raising the minimum wage and increasing taxes on the wealthy. But the fact is Feinstein doesn’t stand up for any of those ideas. She doesn’t stand for anything except her own career, and her decision to run again proves her motives are personally driven, not service driven.
Feinstein represents the great liberal state of California—which could be serving as a beacon right now for rational, liberal political movements in the entire world—as if she lives in Kansas or Wyoming as a moderate Republican. That’s not hyperbole. She’s center-right at best. She’s also a Donald Trump apologizer. Feinstein recently said of the malignant narcissist now dismantling democracy, “Look, this man is going to be president, most likely for the rest of this term. I just hope he has the ability to learn and to change. And if he does, he can be a good president. And that’s my hope.”
Trump can be “a good president”? Really? Is she that out of touch with reality? Her Trump apologetics alone should disqualify her from ever holding a statewide office as a Democrat in California again.
Feinstein has been a strong supporter of the death penalty in her career even though innocent people have been put to death and it has been proven to be ineffective in fighting crime. She has the blood of innocent people on her hands. The death penalty is immoral and barbaric.
She also had this to say about universal, single-payer health coverage, “If single-payer healthcare is going to mean the complete takeover by the government of all healthcare, I am not there.” She will never be there. Feinstein wants private insurers to dictate our access to health care and its cost to increase their profits margins. This comes as a large movement for single payer, called Healthy California, gains momentum in the state and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal garners attention in Washington.
She voted for the occupation of Iraq and the Patriot Act. Again, she has consistently voted as a moderate Republican throughout her career even though she’s a Democrat from a liberal state.
Just a cursory look at her campaign donations through Open Secrets shows Feinstein has received the typical amount of money from the organizations polluting our political system: PACs, electric utilities and lobbyists. Her small, individual donations are minor when compared to large donations and money from PACs. In short, her campaign money represents all that is wrong about our political system. Ordinary workers and professionals in California, many enduring a major housing crisis, don’t have the big cash amounts to feed her ego so she doesn’t represent them. She represents the vested interests that have given us historical income inequality in this country.
Feinstein’s decision to run for reelection is so uniquely self-serving in the annals of American politics that it makes comparing her to Trump himself seem not so far-fetched. She could have served out her term, been lauded by her peers and the national Democratic Party leadership for a distinguished career and then served her country or her community in any number of ways. Instead, she chose Trump-like self-adulation over her country. Her announcement statement was vacuous and meaningless. She gave us no real reason why she wants to seek another term much less deserves one.
Her announcement, of course, was coordinated before hand with the party apparatus to ensure prominent people will stay out of the race in 2018. Almost immediately after her announcement, I received an email blast from U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris asking me to give Feinstein campaign money, an email which was a huge disappointment. Harris has been called a “rising star” in the party and actually endorses single-payer health care. If she’s signing off on this type of hubris and nonsense in her party, though, what will she sign off on next? When San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee gave his immediate endorsement, I felt deflated. After I read some comments by U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, another Trump apologizer, endorsing Feinstein, I got angry. Here’s Pelosi’s comment:
For us and the issues in our state, whether it’s our values or needs, it would have been a tremendous loss for Dianne not to run. She’s a tremendous asset to our state. I’m thrilled that she made the decision that she has. It’s a good thing not only for California but our country.
Note how the statement lacks any substance. Feinstein is a “tremendous asset” as if she’s a stock option or a building owned by a real estate company. Pelosi is “thrilled” even though she knows the progressive wing of her party is not going like the fact Feinstein won’t step aside to allow a real liberal with a real chance to win a U.S. Senate seat to run for the office. Instead, it’s all status quo. Feinstein will play the conservative Senator from California even though she’s a Democrat. Harris will play the liberal Senator from California and the “rising star.” That’s the centrist playbook.
Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have figured it out for us so no need to worry. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are “thrilled” as well.
Let me be clear. No one is thrilled Feinstein is running again except for Feinstein herself, perhaps some of her staff and vested big business interests. Pelosi and Schumer are backing her because they want to play it safe and keep the progressives in line. This is how the Democratic Party worked during the Clinton/Sanders wars and that is how it still works today.
According to a media report, several California politicians were considering a run for the seat if Feinstein didn’t run. What will they do now? Other candidates, such as attorney Pat Harris, have already indicated they plan to run. Harris describes himself as “an unapologetic progressive Democrat . . .”. U.S. House Rep. Ro Khanna of Silicon Valley is urging U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich to challenge Feinstein. Both of those potential candidates are unapologetic liberals as well.
California’s primary system and its size favors the status quo. The two candidates who get the most votes regardless of political party move on to the general election. This obviously favors candidates with name recognition and money, especially if a large number of candidates run for the office. The state has a plethora of large and different media markets. It takes money to run ads and the media talent to know when and how to place them. Traveling the state day after day can be grueling.
Nonetheless, the 2018 elections will obviously be a referendum on Trump if he’s still in office. It’s only logical to assume a vast majority of my fellow Californians will be more than ready at that point to elect someone to the U.S. Senate that will stand up to the egomaniac, not wish him luck as he ends the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program, sabotages our current health care system and pushes for tax cuts that benefit rich business leaders leaders like himself in effect stealing the national treasure. A campaign by a progressive U.S. Senate candidate in California can absolutely catch fire, and Feinstein can end her Senate career wallowing in her hubris and Republican-lite ideology.
Let’s hope, too, Feinstein’s Trump-like egomania will ignite and bolster the progressive revolution and the reimagining of the national Democratic Party. She’s the poster-child of what’s wrong with the national Democratic Party and the country’s broken political system.