A group of young children in California went with a petition to ask their senator Diane Feinstein to sign on to the Green New Deal. Her condescension and arrogance towards the children and their parents was infuriating to watch. See for yourself.

The angry backlash at Feinstein’s atrocious attitude has already begun.

The senator reacted “with smugness + disrespect”, the Sunrise Movement tweeted on Friday, sharing a video clip of the meeting. “Her reaction is why young people desperately want new leadership in Congress.”

Later in the clip, Feinstein tells a young activist, “Well, you know better than I do. So I think one day you should run for the United States Senate and then you do it your way.”

“Great, I will,” the teenager responded.

“That resolution will not pass the Senate,” Feinstein told the activists, according to a news release from the Sunrise Movement. “And you can take that back to whoever sent you here.”

Later, recognizing that she came out looking terrible, Feinstein went into damage control mode.

The senator issued a statement Friday evening: “I want the children to know they were heard loud and clear,” she said, misstating the group’s name as the Sunshine Movement. “I have been and remain committed to doing everything I can to enact real, meaningful climate change legislation.”

Yeah, right. You are bought and sold by lobbyists so we cannot really expect much from you other than words.

But nice work, Diane! You need to nip the idealism of young children in the bud because otherwise they might grow up to be politically active and put pressure on people like you to do your job.


  1. lochaber says

    I’ve some mixed feelings about Feinstein, but… wow.

    I understand that there is a lot of compromise and reworking things in politics, but that was just came across as outright dismissive and condescending. I would have at least expected her to handle it a bit more sauvely/charismatically, even if she didn’t care.

    Really bad optics.

  2. Sam N says

    I voted against Feinstein in her last primary--she is far too right-leaning for my tastes. Other Californians disagreed. Now I’m in Nevada, at least my vote makes more of a difference.

  3. lanir says

    She’s on the intelligence committee and seems to be pro surveillance state too. This looks like the same sort of dismissive thinking that went on there.

    The worst part about the whole thing wasn’t just her indifference, however. It was the way she strongly implied that she didn’t have to care what anyone thought unless they voted for her. In a representative democracy, loyalty is a one way street. It goes FROM the elected official TO the masses they represent. It DOES NOT go in the other direction, ever. For that you need another form of government.

  4. Trickster Goddess says

    Well, I called my senator
    And she said, quote:
    “I’d like to help you, kids
    But you’re too young to vote”

    Sometimes I wonder
    What we’re a-gonna do
    ‘Cause we really need a cure
    For the climate change blues

  5. Mano Singham says

    Kelsey Logas @#8,

    I saw the full video here that was posted by the group yesterday morning. But I don’t see that she comes off much better.

    I don’t agree that the video was ‘doctored’ which implies that it made it seem as if she had said something she had not. It was edited but I thought it still captured accurately her condescension and arrogance. She was not listening to them but pushing her own plan. The idea that you should only consider what can pass in the Republican senate now is absurd because then you will have a lousy plan. You have to push strongly, especially on important issues and be willing to lose for the sake of the ‘long game’ as the children and adults kept repeatedly telling her. That is how you change minds.

    In politics, you have to start out with the maximal position and then bargain down from there. That is how you push the envelope. Republicans understand that game. Too many Democrats start out with what they think the opposition will accept and then get beaten down even further. It has happened so many times (the debate over Obamacare was a great example) that I think it is not that they are stupid, but a strategy. They like being ‘pragmatic’ and ‘incremental’ because it pleases their big money donor base since nothing really changes.

    I was really impressed with the children and the adults and how they presented their case. They came off much better than her. I thought it interesting that she kept saying there is no money for the GND and the children responded correctly that there is plenty of money that is spent on the military. She did not respond to that, which is not surprising because she is a big supporter of the national security state.

  6. Michael Sternberg says

    Like @Kelsey #8 wrote, the Guardian article that Mano linked also said that the shorter clip has been edited to maximize the impact, and:

    Some viewers said they found the full video, which includes more conciliatory moments between Feinstein and the young protesters, less shocking than the edited version.

    For a different view on the incident, how Diane Feinstein got started in politics, and what it takes, see a recent article on the encounter in The Atlantic. The piece is perhaps a bit too adulatory, but a counterbalance was clearly needed in today’s easily inflamed outrage culture. One of the teens asked for an evidently still coveted internship and she got it on the spot.

  7. Mano Singham says

    Michael Sternberg @#11,

    I think what the student was given was a contact with a Feinstein staffer about getting an internship and an email address for her to contact the staffer. Let’s see if that translates into an actual offer.

  8. Curious Digressions says

    She had a point that kids don’t understand political mechinations, but she clearly doesn’t understand calming scared kids. I didn’t watch the full video, but did she at any point say, “We (congress-folk) care about what will happen to you and are working to come up with the best policy so that you and your families don’t die in horrible clouds of sulfur gas”? Even if she doesn’t think that *this* bill is one that will work and doesn’t want to commit to supporting it, she should let them know that they’re working on something. The fun-off-and-play attitude is unimpressive.

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