Dear Senator Feinstein, I come with a simple message: please retire, ma’am.
You have not yet confirmed that you will seek reelection in 2018, but you have been raising money and traveling around California holding events, implying that you are gearing up for a campaign for a sixth term in the United States Senate. I suggest: How about not doing that?
At a town hall in San Francisco Monday night which drew 1,000 of your constituents, some attendees voiced their displeasure with what they saw as your meager opposition to the Trump agenda. So far, Senator Feinstein, you have voted to confirm nine of the Trump administration’s nominees to Cabinet and other administration positions. You did voice concerns about Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s record on abortion and gun control, and voted against his confirmation—for that, I commend you.
But I wanted to briefly spotlight one moment from the town hall on Monday night.
“All the proposals and the reworks that have been coming up with healthcare right now basically are just helping the health insurance industry,” a constituent asked you at the town hall Monday night. “How are you going to help support single-payer healthcare?”
You responded: “If single-payer healthcare is going to mean complete takeover by the government of all healthcare, I’m not there yet.”
This is how the crowd reacted:
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I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this, but single-payer healthcare is well on its way to becoming an extremely popular idea, especially among the people you represent in Congress. Fully 60 percent of Americans and 85 percent of Democratic-leaning voters believe the federal government should ensure healthcare coverage for all Americans. Still, many moderate Democrats in Congress like yourself are wary of supporting it. That’s OK!
But, may I suggest retiring and allowing a Democrat who does support single-payer to take your place? Especially because you do not represent a “red” or “purple” state where Democrats believe they must run to “the center” to win elections—in fact, you represent one of the most liberal states in the union, and nearly any Democrat who replaced you would be better on this and many other issues.
Listen, Senator Feinstein, I mean no disrespect. This is not meant to discount the good works you have done serving as mayor of San Francisco and a senator representing the great state of California. You’ve been a longtime advocate on abortion rights. You introduced the assault weapons ban. You fought hard for the public release of the CIA’s Torture report. These are all accomplishments to be proud of.
On other issues, though, particularly pertaining to privacy and civil liberties, your record is less inspiring.
Let’s briefly take a look at your priorities as a senator. While you may not be ready to take an affirmative position on expanding healthcare access to millions of Americans, you have spent the past two years in Congress tirelessly working to combat the national crisis of “candy and fruit-flavored drugs marketed to children.” Admittedly, I was not aware that candy-flavored drugs were a problem, until I read your recent press release and tweets on the subject:
While there have been a handful of scattered reports over the years of drug dealers dabbling in flavoring their narcotics, I can’t help but think this bill seems to be a solution in search of a problem. I pose to you this question, Senator: What drug kingpin is trying to corner the “kids’ extra lunch money” market by peddling wildberry-flavored meth? Is this really the best use of your time and political capital, while Donald Trump and a Republican congressional majority are out here wrecking shit?
Aside from candy-flavored drugs, your most prominent policy stances have come on national security. As a senator and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, you cosponsored the extension of the Patriot Act; supported the FISA Act, which allows courts to operate in secret while deciding how much spy agencies can snoop into American citizens’ private data; and called Edward Snowden a traitor. You have nearly always supported the expansion of the security state at the expense of privacy rights. Last year, you and Senator Richard Burr proposed a bill that would require tech companies to work with law enforcement break into users’ encrypted data. Data privacy advocates have called the bill “a threat to American privacy.” The ACLU has rarely rated you above 75 percent, and some years your rating has fallen much lower.
Let’s face it: You are a hawkish, centrist Democrat in a state full of voters that have become much more liberal than you have shown yourself to be. Perhaps now would be a great time to retire and make way for a candidate who better reflects the views of your constituents?
And I mean, come on. Candy-flavored drugs?
Cordially, senator, seeing you play coy about the idea of running for re-election at the age of 84, at a time when millions of older Americans face a choice between being forced to work themselves or death or attempt retirement with meager or non-existent savings (which reminds me, by the way, that you have also in the past supported raising the Social Security retirement age), is a bit exasperating! Yes, if you did decide to go through with it, you would likely win reelection, thanks largely to name recognition, your fundraising prowess, and general electoral inertia. But when you do not share the views of the median Democratic voter in your state, and when your replacement almost certainly would come closer to doing so, does running for reelection reflect a commitment to public service, or just a desire to remain in the very prestigious club known as the U.S. Senate?
Ma’am, I am not trying to be rude, I am just asking you to think about it.
You’ve had a long career in the Senate, and, along with former Senator Barbara Boxer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, you built up a triumvirate of powerful female politicians from California, which is something you truly should be proud of. But please, senator, ma’am, these news stories are stressing me the hell out, and I would like to ask you politely, once more, please, to retire.