Why Senator Feinstein Should Debate Elizabeth Emken
Earlier this week, candidates for the Senate seat from Texas debated for the first time. Despite a lengthy primary, Republican nominee Ted Cruz holds nearly a 2 to 1 advantage over the Democratic candidate Paul Sadler. This isn't surprising given the makeup of Texas politics. Equally unsurprising is that California incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein holds a 57-31 lead over Elizabeth Emken. The difference between the two races is that while Ted Cruz debated his Democratic opponent, Senator Feinstein is refusing to debate her Republican counterpart.
Although unusual in this day of hyper information, refusing to debate is a good strategy for Senator Feinstein. California is a mostly blue state, but Senator Feinstein isn't in a rush to tout the Democratic record over the last four years and is especially leery about discussing her own long term record. She is very much aware that the media in that state will do everything it can to keep the topic of debates off the table, and any substantive issues out of the light for as long as possible. So the primary reason that Senator Feinstein must be forced to debate Mrs Emken is that this is the only mechanism available to discuss the very real problems with Senator Feinstein's past record and what they mean for the future.
Obviously, now that we've made the accusation that Senator Feinstein's record is what she is running from, the burden of proof falls upon us to show how that record is so poor that it merits at least one, and probably three to four debates.
Trade and Immigration: On November 18, 1993 Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor about her opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement. During that speech, she asserted bluntly that she was the Senator from California and not the Senator from Mexico. She opposed the bill noting that it was not her job to assist the economy of Mexico and the other Central and South American nations, but to look after the interest of Californians. The NAFTA agree would hurt California jobs and she strongly opposed it. She did what she thought was best for California.
Fast forward to 2007. Senator Feinstein has embraced the wave of immigration from Mexico and other nations and has long supported the full education of illegal aliens within the United States and the right that those children have to attend college here. In 2007 she stated that the US must do all it can to encourage these hard working young people to get a good education and to fulfill the American Dream, and the DREAM Act did just that. So at a time when education is slumping in California and across the nation, and the cost of college is exploding, Senator Feinstein is arguing that US taxpayers should not only fund the elementary and high school educations for the citizens of another nation, but she also asserts that US citizens and California natives must step aside to allow people living within this country illegally a spot in a California university - one funded at taxpayer expense.
This needs to be clarified. Does Senator Feinstein still represent the people of California who vote for her or the people of Mexico and other countries that have found their way here illegaly? If it is the former, how does taking California taxpayer money and using it to educate citizens of other nations benefit the people of California?
Iran, Iraq, Syria: Dianne Feinstein is currently the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman. Her actions and views are especially critical in wars and foreign policy, and the difference between those stated views and recorded actions must be addressed before the US enters into action in Syria and Iran
Before the vote to go into Iraq, Senator Fienstein urged caution. She asked for inspectors to be given time, for prudence and wisdom to win out over what felt like an inevitable push for war. After the vote to authorize the use of force, she criticized the method the war was carried out and the tactics used to bring us into the war. She supported a number of measure to remove forces from Iraq during the Bush years. However, none of this changes the fact that she herself voted to authorize that use of force. She also spoke at length numerous times about the dangers of the Hussein regime.
We see the same play on actions and words with respect to Iran. Throughout the years, Senator Feinstein has been the voice of reason when it comes to ensuring that diplomacy is given time to work and that President Bush is aware that he could not invade Iran without prior approval from Congress. However, at times she has also spoken with absolutely certainty that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon and the UN must intervene. We have also found no record whatsoever that Senator Feinstein expressed the same concern over the need for approval when President Obama launched the assault into Libya.
While Iran looms in the future, Syria is today's foreing policy issue and once again we see contradiction. Senator Feinstein has spoken eloquently and publicly about the need for the US to use caution with respect to backing the Syrian rebels and the fact that the US cannot be the world's policeman. However, she has also co-sponsored legislation calling upon President Obama to remove the Assad regime.
If the Democrats hold the Senate and Senator Feinstein maintains her position on the intelligence committee, she needs to explain her foreign policy view and how her actions correlate with those views. Comparing those views to Mrs Emkens would allow the people of California the chance to support an alternate route.
Civil Liberty: Few elected officials have been as passionate about closing Gauntanamo Bay as Senator Feinstein. However, that passion faded quickly when the Obama administration assumed office. Since that time the fate of those detained there has not been discussed much by the Senator and the subject itself seems somewhat taboo. Senator Feinstein must make it clear whether or not she intends to push the next Obama administration on this subject and what she will do if Governor Romney wins the election.
California has always been a state of dual interests on the intellectual property front. Senator Feinstein has to walk a fine line between a tech industry that wants to be free from old restraints and an entertainment industry that wants to protect its intellectual property. Senator Feinstein has long supported legislation such as PIPA and the PERFORM Act and a debate would give her and Mrs Emken a chance to allow the people of California to see who represents a majority of views.
Energy and the Environment: Senator Feinstein holds two views that are very interesting when looked at side by side. First, she is completely certain that man is causing the Earth to warm. She has held this view for some time and supports cap-and-trade and a number of other measures to reign in the dangers man represents. However, while the science of climate change is settled, she has also asserted that ethanol has not been researched enough and should be better understood before committments are made to the future of the fuel.
Senator Feinstein also opposes a number of special incentives for ethanol and the oil and gas industries. While California is ground zero for the global warming movement in the US, many people would like to know how the Senator will judge proper involvement of the government in the energy sector in the future. Will CAFE standards continue to climb? Will drilling be completely outlawed in the near future? If the EPA can regulate carbon emissions, what else can it do? How do these views compare to Mrs Emken's?
Entitlements, Budgets, and Spending: While many Congressmen and Senators are repeatedly harrased over the intricate details of their views on entitlements, we can find no place where the Senator stakes out her views on how Social Security should be addressed or the best path to address spending. She opposed debt ceiling increases while the Bush administration was in office, but remained silent while the Obama administration increased those limits time and time again. She voiced approval for a few plans but has not actively supported anything that would address reducing spending or increasing revenue outside of a millionaires tax.
Health Care: As the debate over health care began in 2009, Senator Feinstein flatly asserted that end of life care should not be a part of reform. Despite this and the fact that she reacted harshly to the realization that Medicare Part D would be grossly over budget, the Senator supported the reform plan. After the plan passed, it was revealed that although the Obamacare legislation allowed the government to monitor rate increases, it provided no mechanism to address those increases. Since that, Senator Feinstein has moved to pass legislation to establish this power. While most of California supports the reform package, Senator Feinstein must explain why she supported a package that contained end of life care when she initailly opposed it. She should also address why she voted for legislation that had such gaping problems and how she feels about recent revelations that Obamacare will cost more than it's estimates. The people of California also deserve to see any plans Mrs Emken supports.
Foreign policy, spending, the environment, health care, energy policy, liberty issues, and what it means to be the Senator from a state largely consisting of legal immigrants and illegal aliens. These are all issues that Senator Feinstein must provide clarity on before the election. This is not a case of a victory so lopsided that a debate is unreasonable, as we have seen a Texas Republican with a larger lead debate his opponent. This is a Senator who has simply come to realize that the more that state she represents compares her past actions and statements to each other and to her opponent's, the less likely they are to vote for her again. This is exactly the sort of election monopoly that has led the country into the situation we find ourselves in today and it must end. Senator Feinstein must debate her opponent on multiple issues if her election is to have any legitimacy.