Two versions of a video showed children from the Sunrise Movement visiting Senator Dianne Feinstein, asking her to sign on to support the Green New Deal (as our Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren have done, enthusiastically). Feinstein’s attitude in the shorter video drew widespread scorn. Some have claimed that the full 15-minute video provides a totally different picture; I disagree with that strenuously.
I would suggest that if you found Feinstein’s participation in this interaction satisfactory, you need to raise your standards. As a citizen — and as a father — I was appalled.
Let’s stipulate that the Republicans deserve the overwhelming share of blame for opposing any action whatsoever on climate — indeed for adding literal fuel to literal fire. This is an act of literally unprecedented malice. Relatedly, the Sunrise kids are visiting Mitch McConnell today.
Stipulated also that Feinstein has been a reliable vote for pro-climate legislation; but the ordinary simply will not do. She is resigned to the incremental, when the incremental is, in fact, suicidal.)
Perhaps not every aspect of her performance here deserves scorn. But rather most of it does. She exudes an entitled, high-handed attitude towards precious, vulnerable children, whose infinitely valuable lives are currently being treated quite cheaply. They deserve so much better than “I know better” — especially when much of the evidence suggests otherwise.
- How dare Feinstein treat the sincere desire of children to grow up in a world without more catastrophe than absolutely necessary, so cavalierly?
- How dare she mention her own election, Trump-like, as if therefore entitled to deference — and then taunting the children for not being old enough to vote? It’s a whole sequence of arrogant, defensive non-sequiturs.
- How dare she say that she knows what will pass the Senate, much less the House, much less past the President’s veto? That’s ludicrous and everyone knows it.
- How can she tell these children that there’s simply no way to pay for this program? Also ludicrous.
- How can she tell these children that we can’t save the world in 10 years, so we’re not even going to try? That’s indecent.
- She’s prompted for an elevator speech on her own proposal. How dare she refuse to at least engage on the merits — saying in effect, “read my white paper/visit my website”?
We mustn’t, we cannot accept this kind of brush-off from our elected officials — not today, not on this. One ought to be skeptical of the larger implications of the daily social media blowup, and whether it truly represents a larger pattern. This is one such representative event; it is standard treatment of those petitioning for a livable world. Those of us who interact with our elected officials in Massachusetts will find this “I know what I’m doing, run along now” attitude very familiar, and often with just as little justification.
Let there be no doubt in any politician’s mind that this was an ugly, mean, and cowardly way to deal with constituents, with children, and with the future victims of the most heinous act of neglect ever perpetrated on Earth. You do not do this. You have to do better.
You have to accept the immutable reality of the laws of physics, by changing the highly mutable political reality of the moment. Get on it. We’re late.