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writing for godot

I Know What I'm Doing

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Written by Carl Peterson   
Sunday, 24 February 2019 10:52

I Know What I'm Doing

That's what Senator Dianne Feinstein recently told a group of young Californians gathered in her San Francisco office to ask the Senator to support the Green New Deal.  But the meaning of Feinstein's words was reversed by her lack of graciousness, respectfulness, magnanimity, empathy, and what used to be a basic political skill: dealing face-to-face with ordinary citizens.  Feinstein said, I know what I'm doing. But what a lot of people understood as the real meaning of these words was, I don't know what I'm doingI got comfortable these last 26 years primarily serving the interests of wealthy people, who, by the way, I understand a lot better than I understand regular people, but now I'm expected to have to explain myself to the kids of my non-wealthy constituents? What has the world come to!!?

Why would a US Senator who has served in that office since 1993-- the same year that Bill Clinton entered the White House, and immediately tugged his party to the right--not have enough political self-confidence to respectfully address earnest young people who were sincerely, merely asking her to endorse something they believe is vital to their generation's future on Earth?  Why was Feinstein so defensive?  Why could she not have spoken to them with words that showed she understands their concern?  Why could Feinstein not have acknowledged that science is the best source of human knowledge regarding the physical world, and that science emphatically tells us that the dangers of global warming have become critical and must be addressed immediately to avert horrific consequences?  Why did she have to talk down to the young people?  Why, if Feinstein really believes that it is counterproductive to even attempt to immediately turn climate change around, did she not take the time to carefully, respectfully explain her basis for this belief?  Why did Feinstein, in an apparently unconscious imitation of the president, boast about winning her last election by a "million votes."  Why did Feinstein feel the need to remind one of the young people, 16, that she was not old enough to vote?  Why did Feinstein say, "[The Green New Deal] will not pass the Senate, and you can take that back to whoever sent you here."  Certainly, if the student she was talking to were a plutocrat's emissary, Feinstein would not have had the temerity to address them so disrespectfully, and, furthermore, she would have known full well what plutocratic interest the emissary represented.

The young people did not ask Feinstein to defend herself or justify herself, nor did they say anything that would reasonably have drawn a response like Feinstein's.  But Feinstein appears to have misguidedly come armed with trepidatious defensiveness into her meeting with the young Californians.  Preposterously--considering the many grave political--and potentially catastrophic environmental--crises facing this country and this world, Feinstein seemed most concerned about herself.  [But in Feinstein's defense, what would normally be considered excessive self-absorption is probably a useful personal trait when most of your time is spent assisting wealthy interests against the interests of the preponderant majority of Americans.]  Feinstein's attitude suggested that she has recently acquired some awareness that her style of politics (catering primarily to the wealthy while disdaining regular Americans) may be on the way out, that the times are-a-changin, and that a precept of the new politics is that acting immediately and resolutely on political aspirations may itself change the terrain of the political battlefield enough to make possible previously unimaginable victories.  But in the meantime, this Senator from California who knows what she's doing, has asserted the premise that it is too expensive to try to save the world.

 

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