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Why I will vote for Kevin DeLeon, not Dianne Feinstein, as the next Democratic Senator from California

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Dianne Feinstein has been a political superstar ever since I moved to California, in 1979. She was my Mayor when I lived in San Francisco, and a very good one, what people call a “pothole politician”: responsive to every voter’s gripes. I was with a public transit lobbying group in those days, and once, when I gathered and sent to her a petition signed by several hundred people demanding better service on our local MUNI line, she had her Public Utilities chief, a man named Richard Sklar, meet with me to discuss the situation. I still have a clutch of letters from Mayor Feinstein in my files. When a group of dissidents sought to have her impeached, I sided with her; and when she was elected Senator, during the “Year of the Woman,” in 1992, I exulted.

I watched “Dianne” (as her constituents fondly called her) as she rose in power, winning election after election, and garnering respect on both sides of the aisle. The media dubbed her “the adult in the room,” a thoughtful Senator who could work with Republicans as well as her fellow Democrats, in contrast to the supposedly “radical” Barbara Boxer. I was happy to vote time and time again for Dianne.

I might have done so again next year, in the Democratic primary, but her remarkably impolitic remark about Trump in August really made me wonder. “He can be a good president,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle.

My first thought was, “No, he can’t. It’s far too late for that. He’s already caused unforgiveable damage—to the Presidency, to America, to the world”. Her statement caused a firestorm. Even I, a staunch Feinstein supporter, started to wonder. But still, I decided then not to make my mind up, but to await events, and see if something would push me in one direction or another.

Well, two things did. First, Kevin De Léon, the California Senate leader, announced that he would take Dianne on in the primary. Then, Trump made one of the ugliest, most vile statements I’ve ever heard from him—which means it was pretty vile, since Trump is the king of vulgar, untrue, nasty smears. He said, If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls.”

He was referring to U.S. Presidents calling the families of slain American military personnel. It was a disgusting, horrendous slur on Obama, and it made me so angry I wanted to cry. And that’s when I thought, “That’s it. No more Dianne.”

We desperately need to get rid of this awful rightwing  regime, and we need to do it now. We need bare-knuckle fighters who will take on Pence and McConnell and Ryan and the tea party and Steve Bannon and the Nazis and white nationalists and the rest of that abominable crew. Dianne Feinstein just doesn’t have the guts to do it. Her age is only part of the problem. Temperamentally, she’s a centrist, a moderate. When she was Mayor, she hated fights. A compromiser, a deal-maker, a pragmatic, pothole politician, cautious to a fault, well-meaning, but with her finger constantly to the wind. Well, it used to work, once upon a time; that’s not what we need now.

The argument for Dianne is her long experience. I’m sure she knows all there is to know about working the levers: the rules of Congress, the law, Senate history, and so on. But I watched her yesterday morning as the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned Sessions, and she seemed tired, listless, asking vague questions which demanded followups she never pursued, even as Sessions avoided answering them. Look, we need someone with energy, drive and passion, who sees this administration for what it is: rogue, a clear and present danger, something that must be resisted with every ounce of strength. Dianne, I’m afraid to say, just doesn’t get it anymore. She’s performed noble, historic service to the people of California and the United States of America, and she will deserve every honor given to her when she finally leaves politics. But she does not deserve to be our Senator again. (By the way, it goes without saying that, if Dianne wins the primary, I will vote for her over any Republican candidate!)

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