Losing All Patience With Feinstein

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Dear Senator Feinstein,

You just don’t get it.

You told a San Francisco audience to have patience with President Trump, that he might become a good president yet. And your attempts to walk back the comment – noting your many criticisms of Trump on specific issues – don’t really address the problem.

How is it possible that you don’t get it.

You still see to think that this is a normal time and normal president, and that substantive deals are possible. So you want to keep your options open to make progress via compromise with Trump and the GOP. You also sit on committees that have an important role in investigations of Trump, and you may portraying yourself as even-handed so that your eventual judgment on him carries more weight.

So you approach is understandable. It’s also profoundly wrong.

Why? Because California is defending itself from a crazy, bigoted president who regularly issues lies about California and questions our very legitimacy as a state.

Do you not see that Trump’s lies and attacks never stop?

Do you not know that Trump is tearing families apart, orphaning American children with undocumented immigrants who are unlucky enough to be subjected to the whims of ICE agents? And don’t you see that DACA isn’t some legal question (as you recently discussed it) but a last-ditch defense of people who are as American as you and me?

Do you not know that the president is a climate denier making war on our state’s efforts to address the problem?

Did you miss the months when Trump sought to strip health care from the one-third of Californians on Medi-Cal?

Were you sleeping all the times the president said our state was home to massive vote fraud?

Do you not recognize that he treats dictatorial Russia as a friend and democratic California as an enemy? And don’t you see how Trump is escalating a possibly nuclear confrontation with North Korea?

Do you just think that, with time, this 70-year-old white nationalist will get over his ignorance, racism and bigotry?

Patience, you say?

Forgive me, but I’ve lost all patience with California senior citizen politicians telling us to be patient – even as they fail to protect us from Washington and address our state’s basic needs in housing, schools, higher education and health care.

Perhaps you’ve been terribly misunderstood in this recent controversy. If that’s the case, then you need to travel around the state immediately, listen to people and apologize for being daft.

But it seems like you, and your many allies, think you’re basically right. Those allies have tried to spin the opposition to your remarks as the product of a California left that has become unhinged.

If you dare run for re-election, you’ll discover how wrong you are. Trump is clearly recognized as a threat by people across the political spectrum. I for one am an independent, moderate by California standards, and aligned with you on the issues.

If you can’t fully retract your statement or your feelings, your continued representation of California is only going to divide the state in the middle of a fight. Your best move would be to resign now, so the governor, your friend, can appoint a replacement.

You certainly will find that suggestion ludicrous, and dismiss it. But what’s ludicrous is your view that this moment requires patience.

You’ve had a great, distinguished career. And maybe, in time, you could change your outlook and adjust to the reality of the threat our state faces in Trump. But California doesn’t really have time to wait on this president. Or on you.

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