For those of us who have spent an inordinate amount of time writing letter after letter to our unresponsive Senator, CENSURE of her by three of the caucuses within the California Democratic Party this weekend was sweet.
Now, perhaps now, will she finally start to vote WITH her party? Now, perhaps now, will she start to vote to end the war? Now, perhaps now, will she stand up for the Constitution which has been largely dismantled under her watch and often with her complicity? Too long we have stood by while our senior senator acted as an enabler for this renegade president. And too long has the party brass stood in the way of holding her accountable for voting with the Republicans more times than we can count.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, AKA Mrs. Richard Blum, finally heard the verdict from the party base. It was said that Party Chair, Art Torres, delivered the news to her that the Progressive Caucus as well as the Women's and Irish-American Caucuses passed a resolution similar to the following :
Whereas Senator Dianne Feinstein voted to support the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey as United States Attorney General, thereby elevating to the highest position in law enforcement a man who refused to renounce the right of the President to resort to torture and who refused to recognize waterboarding as a form of torture, and by this action Senator Feinstein failed to oppose President Bush and failed to stand for the ideals of the Democratic Party, which abhors torture and stands firmly against its use by the United States at all times and places; and
Whereas Senator Feinstein voted to confirm Judge Leslie Southwick for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit despite his clear record of racism and gender discrimination, thus failing to stand firmly with the Democratic Party, which supports gender equality and opposes racism in any of its manifestations; and
Whereas these examples are far from the only instances where Senator Feinstein, after seeking and securing the support and endorsement of the California Democratic Party, has failed to support the policies and principles of our party;
Therefore be it resolved that the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party expresses its disappointment at, and censure of, Senator Feinstein for ignoring Democratic principles and falling so far below the standard of what we expect of our elected officials.
The resolution at the Progressive Caucus was co-authored by Northern California Chair Mal Burnstein and Michael Jay, Delegate of the 42nd AD, who spoke for passage and noted that Congress' approval rating is 11% with Feinstein repeatedly breaking with party unity.
Speaking in favor of passage, Southern California Chair Dr. Jo Olson opened debate.
"We have taken a lot of flak, a lot of heat for splitting the party, for fracturing the party, for putting a division in the party, for going against party lines, and yet we stand here today, and we have members of our Congress and members of our Senate who make egregious breaks from party lines and are not held accountable. I think that we face a very serious situation today."
After reading the resolution to the gathered 200 caucus members, Dr. Olson continued, "I just think it's incredible audacity that we're even having a discussion about it. It's TORTURE, it's TORTURE, it's TORTURE. Dipping human beings in water and pretending to drown them is TORTURE...actually drowning them, it's torture. I'm a physician and I've seen people die...it's horrible...There's no reason that our senator from this incredibly Democratic state in this country should be coming anywhere close to supporting it and I hope you will all join me we're not going to accept and send a strong message that we're not going to accept this kind of behavior and judgment."
Vice Chair Brad Parker made the point that this is about policy and not personality and is not an indictment of her entire career. It relates to these specific actions and our right to dissent.
Numerous speakers rose to speak in favor of censure. Coleen Fernald, who ran against Feinstein in the '06 election, noted that she kept hearing Feinstein referred to as a DINO during her campaign. Originally thinking it was a "dinosaur," she quickly learned it meant "Democrat-in-name-only." "And she has been exhibiting that over and over...she needs to have her feet held to the fire and I'm counting on you progressive Democrats to do just that."
A minor amendment were proposed and voted down. Questions were asked, but NO ONE spoke against the measure. The resolution passed with overwhelming support of almost 200 voting members. After passage, it was sent to the Resolution Committee of the Democratic Party asking for consideration of the party.
Late Saturday night this committee declined to hear the resolution. On a poster outside their meeting room was a running tally of those who have gone on-line to support the censure--more than 30,000 in 4 days. The coalition to censure included Progressive Democrats of America, the Courage Campaign, MoveOn.org and at least 35 Democratic organizations.
Here's where to sign on to the censure and join the more than 30,000 to reenforce the caucus vote:
This Executive Board meeting of the California Democratic Party was held at the Sheraton, Anaheim.