If we’ve learned anything in the past few months, it’s that we’re facing a presidential administration that does not play by the rules.
The time for politics as usual is over. Normalization, quid pro quo and moderation are not going to cut it. Our human rights — this country’s very democracy — may depend on our members of Congress taking a stronger stance. It’s time to fight.
So why is California’s senior senator still talking about compromising, a tactic that she’s relied on throughout her career, as though nothing has changed?
“Where there’s a dirty word, it’s ‘compromise,’” Sen. Dianne Feinstein said in February during a conversation at the Public Policy Institute of California. “But if you’re a two-party system … without compromising [on] anything that’s major, how can I affect a resolution?”
Since taking office, President Donald Trump has pushed two Muslim travel bans, a health care scheme that would strip services from up to 24 million people, a strategy for deporting 11 million immigrants and a budget that slashes protections for our environment, education and affordable housing. He’s stocked his cabinet with members who are not only unqualified, but in many cases also appear bent on tearing down the departments they’re supposed to lead.
So why did Feinstein vote “yes” on much of this cabinet? What reasonable compromise did she hope to gain by voting in support of CIA-head Mike Pompeo, who has waffled on his stance on torture? What allegiance does the senator hope to form by voting for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who has financial ties to Russia?
We at Indivisible SF know Feinstein has it in her to be a fighter. She had a pacemaker installed in January and was back in the Senate just two days later. After an outpouring of calls from her constituents, she firmly said “no” to Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and to Attorney General Jeff Sessions (though she hasn’t called for the resignation of the latter for lying under oath). Immediately after Trump announced each Muslim ban, Feinstein proposed legislation to counter it.
We also know, should Feinstein choose to fight, she’d bring a powerful hand to the table. As ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, Feinstein is critical to the review of judicial nominees, including those to the Supreme Court.
But despite her hand, or maybe because of it, Feinstein fails to acknowledge the hard truth: The game has changed. As the minority party in Congress, Democrats like Feinstein have to get scrappy. Now is the time to withhold consent so her Republican colleagues cannot move forward on everyday business while issues like our health care are at stake. Now is the time for her to filibuster Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
When faced with the erosion of democracy, we do not compromise. We resist.
We want Sen. Feinstein to do the job we elected her to do: To lead in a way that she’s never needed to before. To lead her colleagues in a united front against Trump’s agenda. To lead Californians and the nation in a resistance movement equal to the present danger.
Her longstanding habits of compromise and forbearance won’t be put to rest without our insistence. We encourage readers to call Feinstein and let her know: Politics as usual is dead, and it’s time for her to fight accordingly.
Rokhini Prabhu is a member of Indivisible SF.