By Stephen Travis Pope, a teacher in the graduate program in Media Arts & Technology at UCSB; and Barbara Fields, director of the Gandhi & King Season for Nonviolence Campaign.
Santa Barbara Independent
December 6, 2007
We have been quite distressed by Senator Diane Feinstein’s voting record and public statements since California voters elected her as a Democrat. We especially oppose her recent stands on the nominations of Judge Leslie Southwick and Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey — not to mention her consistent support of the Iraq War. It is our perception that she has changed party affiliations (or at least party allegiances) while serving in the Senate, and that it is time for her to retire so that we can call for a special election to fill her Senate seat. The alternative would be to face an aggressive recall effort driven by California Democrats, since we no longer feel the least bit represented by her.
We understand that it is critical to tie our contentions to hard facts, and this is what we find in Senator Feinstein’s detailed voting record (see vote-smart.org): She voted for the fence on the Mexican border, to support the anti-humanity CAFTA and African “free-trade” bill, to exclude any language other than English from U.S. government materials and services (the watered-down “English first” amendment), for a constitutional amendment prohibiting flag burning, to apologize to General Petraeus after the MoveOn.org “Betray-us” statement in the N.Y. Times, and has supported almost every Republican-sponsored, industry-supported “wolf in sheep’s clothing” environmental bill that has been presented in the Senate — “Clean Energy,” “Safe Drinking Water,” etc. Violating our top priorities against war and for freedom, Senator Feinstein voted for the 2001 Military Force Authorization resolution that enabled the current occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, for the U.S. Patriot Act and its extension, and to amend the 1978 FISA act to authorize increased monitoring of electronic communications. In September, she voted “yes” on a resolution giving the administration a free future pass to invade Iran by placing the Revolutionary Guard on the U.S. government’s list of specially designated global terrorists. These last two bills (FISA and the Iran resolution) had no sponsors at all from the Democratic party.
Regarding the nomination of Michael B. Mukasey for U.S. Attorney General, we strongly contend — and invite Senator Feinstein to contest — that most Americans, and certainly the overwhelming majority of California Democrats, are appalled by the notions of state-sponsored terrorism and torture by waterboarding. The retention of individuals without trial in our off-shore military prisons — in many cases for more than five years — is a violation of every principle established by international law. We can see no reason why our senator would have come out in support of a nominee who showed so little respect for the Senate’s constitutional duty of “advise and consent” in his artful dodging of direct questions about the most important legal question of the day.
We implore Senator Feinstein to consider the honesty of her commitment to the voters who elected her. As she may have already noticed, progressive voices have begun to demand that the Democratic Party re-establish itself as an opposition party; otherwise, we have nothing to lose by deserting it to form what some of us are calling “2PM” — the second-party movement in America. Unless Senator Feinstein begins to actively oppose the neo-conservative policies for which she has been voting with distressing consistency, she is no longer welcome in our party. We feel certain that she will have no problem raising the funds necessary to run in 2012 as a Republican, should she not already have them secured as her voting record leads us to assume. It is time for Senator Feinstein to resign so we can call for a new election. We are certain that she would not want the legacy of a dedicated and important career to be punctuated at its end by a humiliating recall debate among her constituents.