“Dianne Feinstein Isn’t Too Old—but She Is Too Out of Touch.”


We know all too well.

Dianne Feinstein Isn’t Too Old—but She Is Too Out of Touch, by Miles Howard (The Nation)

It’s not her age that should disqualify her from reelection. It’s her political distance from the rising Democratic base.

Dianne Feinstein is the oldest sitting senator in America. She entered Congress in 1992 (when I was 4 years old). Today, at age 84, she is running for a fifth term in office, and a lot of people in the Golden State are unhappy about it—enough to deny Feinstein the state Democratic Party endorsement at this past Saturday’s convention.

Feinstein spent a great deal of that convention serving scrambled eggs to the delegates and giving speeches about her decades of legislative experience—which suggests that she still doesn’t get why her reelection bid hasn’t been embraced by all. Her primary opponent, State Senate President Kevin de León, put it bluntly during the convention when he proclaimed that “it’s time for a new generation to lead.”

He’s right.

 … As with all aging politicians, it’s not Feinstein’s numerical age per se that is the problem. Rather, it’s her political distance from a Democratic base that is becoming younger and more progressive. Millennials and Gen Xers—who outvoted Baby Boomers in 2016 and will likely do so again this November—are a demographic that Democrats must turn out in high numbers. And the inconvenient reality for Feinstein is that her politics are not shared by this rising electorate. Her record of service, while impressively storied, contains highlights such as voting for the 1994 crime bill, voting for the Iraq War, giving the NSA carte blanche to spy on citizens, and recently writing a bill that would have required local authorities to comply with ICE.

Feinstein has made the case that her experience should be considered a powerful asset. But, with good reason, younger voters are skeptical of that argument. In American politics, decades of service in public office is often confused for a kind of civic meritocracy. Henry Kissinger, who should be considered a war criminal, still gets invited to black-tie dinners and Ivy League campuses. Hillary Clinton, a politician with dodgy judgment, was hailed as “the most qualified presidential candidate ever.” By this logic, someone like Feinstein should have been a shoo-in for the party’s endorsement.

But today’s young voters are looking for more than just experience for the sake of itself. These voters hold progressives views in high regard, but also consistency and integrity when it comes to those views—leaders whose politics, party affiliation, and actions are closely interlinked and non-contradictory …