The Importance of Dianne Feinstein

Conner Hua, Photography Editor

It’s hard to not know—or at least have heard of—Dianne Feinstein. Serving since 1992, Dianne Feinstein is currently the incumbent senior senator for the state of California. Over her past four terms, Senator Feinstein has engraved her legacy into the history of California and the Democratic Party. As the first female senator for California, the first female member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a champion of the left, and a prominent, respected figure in U.S. politics, it’s quite clear how Feinstein has managed to stay relevant to the electorate of California for 26 years. However, as Feinstein ages, she has faced some roadblocks on her path to reelection, most notably, a loss of public interest and support.

Feinstein’s six-year term faces its end in 2018. On July 14, Senator Feinstein lost the endorsement of the California Democratic Party; instead, the endorsement was awarded to Kevin De León, President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate and Feinstein’s major opponent in the 2018 midterm election. This is a direct result of an accumulation of anti-moderate sentiments toward Senator Feinstein’s ideology and political views. For a few years now, the Democratic Party’s increasingly liberal views often do not align with those of Senator Feinstein. Especially since the inauguration of President Donald Trump and the implementation of far-right legislation and moves to undermine the progress of Democrats, the Democratic Party has shifted more and more left ideologically to attempt to counterbalance this administration.

However, Feinstein hasn’t really followed suit. The State of California is known as a vanguard of liberal policies, legislature, and politicians. With a previous supermajority in both the state Senate and state Assembly, California’s politics have seen a similar shift to the left as many Democrats have found a home in this reliably safe state. Thus, it seems only fitting that California is represented by a senator as liberal as its inhabitants, and herein lies the problem: Feinstein being a moderately left Democrat, California voters are becoming increasingly discontent with the disconnect between Feinstein’s political ideologies and theirs. However, Senator Feinstein’s cruciality to the future of our nation and California isn’t discussed enough.

Firstly, Feinstein is an institution in American and California’s politics. Due to her extensive 26 years of experience in the Senate alone, Senator Feinstein has an abundance of knowledge and wisdom on the affairs of our government and how to resolve certain issues. This plays into one of the core reasons why it is within the interest of the California electorate to keep Dianne Feinstein in the Senate: her experience complements that of Senator Kamala Harris. Kamala Harris is the incumbent junior California Senator. Elected in 2017, Senator Harris—while she has an extensive background in politics—has little to no experience in the U.S. Senate.

If Senator Feinstein were to be re-elected for another term, there is no doubt that she’d continue to serve as a valuable mentor to Senator Harris, leaving California in good hands. In contrast, if Feinstein were to be voted out on November 6, both of California’s senators would be highly inexperienced in the U.S. Senate, with Senator Harris nearing on two years and a completely new senator. Senator Feinstein serves as a Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and various other committees as a cumulation of her years of experience. California’s political clout in the Senate would diminish greatly as these two new senators would have to build up their reputation and experience in the Senate. Seeing as California is the most populous state in the U.S., the world’s fifth largest economy, and a Democratic forefront, California Democrats deserve at least one highly experienced senator to ensure that the two senators are making decisions that are in the best interest of their constituents while utilizing their history in politics.

Furthermore, Senator Feinstein serves as a moderator for both California Republicans and Republicans in Congress as well. In an age where politics is becoming increasingly polarized, the shocking benefits and power of bipartisanship in our government is often forgotten. Since her very first term, Senator Feinstein has been notable for having independent thoughts as a politician not sold out by the majority sentiments of her party. Feinstein is well-respected by top politicians across the nation both Democratic and Republican for her well-known ability to work across the aisle to make agreements and compromises that are in the good of our nation. Today, Congress is more frequently getting deadlocked over partisan disputes with no hope for bipartisanship efforts; however, the historic effort of Senator Feinstein to put the interests of the nation over petty party disputes is a testament to her value to the Senate.

One of the main reasons Feinstein has managed to stay in the office all these years, and one of the main reasons why it is crucial she remains in office is that Feinstein appeals to voters across the political spectrum, most notably, independent voters in California. From far left, to center-left to occasionally even center-right, voters can recognize that Senator Feinstein beams of experience and determination. Many see her as someone who will get the job done. She has also garnered the endorsement of some of the nation’s top Democrats: former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and fellow Senator Kamala Harris to name a few. Feinstein’s center-left platform coupled with her willingness to work with both parties in order to work past roadblocks has contributed to her cruciality in the Senate.

As a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein serves as a powerful tool in ensuring that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia remains protected by Congress. Within the past year, Feinstein has also shown signs of progression for those who worry about her moderate-left platform. While she has already supported Democrats in crucial topics such as marijuana legalization, immigration, gun control, abortion and more, Feinstein has been known to have several differing opinions. In lieu of her typically independent, headstrong views, several of Senator Feinstein’s stances on issues have shifted to the left to match those of her constituents. Although she may face fierce opposition, the question of whether or not Californians should support Senator Feinstein’s bid for re-election is not a matter of age or moderation. It’s a matter of experience and bipartisanship. Her cruciality to the U.S. Senate stems from decades of progressive, yet independent legislature, an extensive history of bipartisan efforts, and a highly respected composure nowhere to be found in the current administration.


Photo courtesy of SYRACUSE.COM