By: Travis Penniall
California is one of the most liberal states in the country. However, despite the increasingly progressive views of its’ residents, the state has been represented in the Senate by corporatist centrist Dianne Feinstein for over twenty years now. Feinstein’s record is absolutely disastrous, and she has shown time and time again that she is hopelessly out of touch with her constituents.
During the Bush Administration, Feinstein helped to enable the Republican president by voting for several of his horrendous policies, including his giant tax giveaway to the rich, the illegal Iraq War, and the unconstitutional Patriot Act.
Collectively, these measures exacerbated income inequality, lead to the death of half a million people, worsened the threat of terrorism, and shredded our Fourth Amendment rights to protection from unreasonable search and seizure in favor of establishing a surveillance state. When we needed Feinstein to stand up the most, she buckled under and fell in line.
That’s not where it ends. There are still a plethora of other abysmal blemishes on Feinstein’s record. In 1990, while running for governor, Feinstein openly touted in ads that she was the only Democrat in the race to support the death penalty. The death penalty is a policy that kills innocent people 4% of the time and disproportionately affects African Americans. Is supporting it really something to be bragging about? Apparently it is to Feinstein.
In 2006, Feinstein co-sponsored a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning. It’s comforting to see that Feinstein’s contempt for the Constitution isn’t simply limited to the Fourth Amendment, but also the First Amendment as well.
In recent times, Feinstein has continued to be an active opponent of the rising tide of progressivism, making clear her opposition to liberal policies such as marijuana legalization and the implementation of a single-payer healthcare system.
Her positions on these two issues show just how out of touch Feinstein really is with her constituents. Polls show that 64% of Americans support the legalization of marijuana. A 2016 ballot measure to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California received 57% of the vote. 58% of Americans support single-payer healthcare. 70% of Californians do.
The War on Drugs has been an abject failure. After 40 years and $1 trillion spent on it, the drug addiction rate remains virtually the same. Billions of dollars are spent every year on marijuana arrests, which are carried out more than arrests for all violent crime combined. This is despite the fact that studies show marijuana is safer than alcohol. Meanwhile, legal marijuana in California alone is projected to be a $5 billion dollar industry that’ll create over 1,000 new jobs. Instead of continuing the same old failed policies of the past, we should take advantage of the opportunity and reap the economic benefits that marijuana provides.
In regards to single-payer, the United States of America is one of the only major countries in the world to not have some form of a universal healthcare system. It’s no coincidence that among these countries, the United States’ healthcare system also ranks the worst. To make matters even worse, the United States healthcare system is also the most expensive. Single-payer would cover more people for less. Indeed, a study released last year showed that a state-wide single-payer plan would save California $37 billion annually.
So, given that this is the case, what reason could Dianne Feinstein possibly have for opposing the measure? She says she’s “not there” on the “complete takeover by the government of all healthcare”. So here’s a Democratic senator, from a deep blue state, using right-wing talking points to disparage universal healthcare. What a disgrace. (Feinstein doesn’t mention the fact that those with government health plans are more satisfied than those with private insurance.)
Curiously, just days after dissing single-payer, Feinstein attended a fundraising event at the office of Avenue Solutions, a lobbying firm that represents prominent health insurers and pharmaceutical companies. Wonder if that has anything to do with her opposition to single-payer?
To make matters even worse, earlier this month she voted to give President Trump, someone who had his Justice Department demand to be given data on all visitors to a website opposing his administration, warrantless surveillance powers.
Feinstein is up for re-election this year. California should reject her corporatist style of politics and instead elect a true progressive – Alison Hartson. Backed by Justice Democrats, a progressive group set up to launch primary challenges against centrist Democrats, Hartson is a perfect match for California. Having previously served as a high school teacher and the national director of Wolf-PAC, a group dedicated to getting money out of politics, Hartson’s progressive credentials and record of fighting for the people are impeccable. She’s the real deal.
As senator, Hartson will fight for a variety of progressive goals and causes – including single-payer healthcare, abolishing private prisons, tuition-free college, raising the minimum wage, and publicly funded elections – all of which feature in her platform. Let’s have a senator that’ll fight for Californian values. Let’s have Alison Hartson.