Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Why should Democrats censure Dianne Feinstein?

This coming weekend, the California Democratic Party executive board will be meeting in Anaheim, and among the many items they'll be considering is a resolution to censure Senator Dianne Feinstein that was authored by California Democratic Party Progressive Caucus co-chair Mal Burnstein. I've copied the resolution below.

This resolution is currently supported by a coalition of grassroots and netroots organizations including Courage Campaign, Executive Board of the California Democratic Party Progressive Caucus, Progressive Democrats of America, East Bay for Democracy Democratic Club, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, San Diego Democracy for America, Sacramento for Democracy, and DFA-Orange County.

Some (my dad, for example. Hi dad!) ask why these groups would be initiating and supporting such an effort when there are so many Republicans that deserve a reprimand or worse. I have to say that from one perspective, that's an understandable question. However these are unusual times, and many Democratic activists are extremely and justifiably angry with her for a series of terrible moves in the Senate including, but not limited to, her assists to Mukasey and Southwick, as well as her claim that the telecoms should be granted immunity for violating the law and cooperating in surveillance without a warrant upon American citizens. As Glenn Greenwald recently said:
Feinstein is not merely voting reliably for the most extremist Bush policies, though she is doing that. Far more than that, she has become, time and again, the linchpin of Bush's ability to have his most radical policies approved by the Senate.

Let's just stick to the basic principles of the Democratic Party....no....of the Constitution, for starters. I grumbled when she voted to give Bush enhanced surveillance powers under FISA, I gritted my teeth when she voted for Southwick to take a seat on the Court of Appeals, and I growled (and uttered a few other choice words) when she played a significant role in elevating Mukasey to the position of US Attorney General. But her statement last week on the telecom bill was the last straw. The communications corporations know the law, and knew they were violating it. Even if they truly didn't know, wouldn't that signify criminal negligence? They SHOULD know better. What is Feinstein thinking? How can anyone who claims to be a Democrat chose blatant law breaking over the protections afforded by the US Constitution? Immunity would not only prevent lawsuits against the telecoms, but would allow the true extent of the administration's surveillance activities to remain below the radar and out of the public eye. Protecting lawbreakers, justifying illegal actions, and subverting our system of justice is inexcusable. What hypocracy it would be to condem this behavior by Republicans, while excusing it in a Democrat.

In my experience, progressive Democrats overwhelmingly agree that a huge part of the weakness and ineffectiveness of the Democratic Party in recent years has been because so many in the party have been so willing to "go along to get along" with Republican partisans that are just going to turn around and stab them in the back at the next convenient opportunity. Of course politics takes compromise, but it's no longer a true compromise when one side constantly defines the choices as my way or the highway. Feinstein has provided perfect example after perfect example of this destructive behavior, and continues it even now when the Democrats are the majority party. She has repeatedly taken stands in opposition to party principles, and has refused to listen to her constituents. Well, now it's time to hold her accountable.

Progressives in the netroots and the grassroots have long said we don't simply want Democrats in office. We want Democrats, with spine and integrity, that will walk the Democratic walk, and stand up for our values. Why should anything less be acceptable, and why would anyone be surprised when we demand our political representatives take a principled stand based on our system of laws and our commonly-held ethical standards? If we truly want a stronger Democratic Party and a return to strong democratic values, we must make these demands. How else can the people express displeasure with a sitting Senator that doesn't seem to have much regard for the opinions of the citizens of California, and who quite possibly won't face re-election? The most obvious option is to raise our collective voice, and use the tools of our democracy.

So here we are....


Whereas Senator Dianne Feinstein voted to support the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey as United States Attorney General, thereby elevating to the highest position in law enforcement a man who refused to renounce the right of the President to resort to torture and who refused to recognize waterboarding as a form of torture, and by this action Senator Feinstein failed to oppose President Bush and failed to stand for the ideals of the Democratic Party, which abhors torture and stands firmly against its use by the United States at all times and places; and

Whereas Senator Feinstein voted to confirm Judge Leslie Southwick for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit despite his clear record of racism and gender discrimination, thus failing to stand firmly with the Democratic Party, which supports gender equality and opposes racism in any of its manifestations; and

Whereas these examples are far from the only instances where Senator Feinstein, after seeking and securing the support and endorsement of the California Democratic Party, has failed to support the policies and principles of our party;

Therefore be it resolved that the California Democratic Party expresses its disappointment at, and censure of, Senator Feinstein for ignoring Democratic principles and falling so far below the standard of what we expect of our elected officials.

Endorsed by the Courage Campaign, Executive Board of the California Democratic Party Progressive Caucus, Progressive Democrats of America, East Bay for Democracy Democratic Club, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, San Diego Democracy for America, Sacramento for Democracy, and DFA-Orange County (to add your organization to this endorsement list, please click here).

Visit the Courage Campaign to sign up to support the resolution to censure Senator Dianne Feinstein.


Post a Comment

<< Home