California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein has drawn the wrath of social media after video footage surfaced of her condescending a group of children urging her to vote for the Green New Deal. HuffPost reported that climate advocacy group Sunrise Movement posted a video of the exchange between the children and the four-term lawmaker, and Twitter dragged Feinstein over the coals for her dismissive performance. The video was viewed 1.4 million times in the first few hours after it was posted.
According to Sunrise Movement spokesman Stephen O’Hanlon, the group that confronted Feinstein in her San Francisco offices are “supporters and family members” of the organization, and the children present are aged between 7 and 16. During the meeting, which grew testier as it went along, Feinstein appeared to be dismissive of the Green New Deal, the ambitious resolution that seeks to address the dire need for climate change as well as economic and social inequities. At one point, she patiently explains to the children that Democrats are in the minority in the Senate, and thus should seek toned-down legislation that might bring Republicans on board.
When one child reminds the 85-year-old senator that in the United States, the government is supposed to be run by the people, for the people, Feinstein seems to suggest that the people should actually be listening to their lawmakers, not vice versa.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I know what I’m doing. You come in here and you say it has to be my way or the highway. I don’t respond to that.”
“So, you know, maybe people should listen a little bit,” Feinstein added.
Later in the conversation, 16-year-old Isha Clarke reminded the Senator that as an elected official, her job is actually to listen to the concerns of her constituents and do their bidding, adding that the only reason she’s in office is because of the voters.
Feinstein responds by asking Clarke her age.
“Well, you didn’t vote for me,” Feinstein replies when Clarke tells her she’s 16.
“It doesn’t matter,” another girl tells Feinstein. “We’re the ones who are going to be impacted!”
In another exchange, a member of the Sunrise Movement tries to tell Feinstein that, given the scientific consensus that we only have about a decade to lessen the worst effects of climate change, only “bold, transformative action” like the Green New Deal is going to have any impact.
“Well, you know better than I do,” Feinstein snaps. “So I think one day you should run for the Senate. And then you do it your way. But in the meantime, I just won a big election.”
Twitter had a field day scorching Feinstein for her lecturing tone, with many users pointing out that, at 85 years old and with a net worth approaching $80 million, Feinstein isn’t going to among the groups that will be most impacted by climate change. Users were also quick to note that Feinstein counts oil and gas industry lobbyists among her most generous donors.
Dianne Feinstein scolding these kids for begging her not to pass along a ruined planet is an embarrassment. Chuck Grassley usually makes the best case for why we need term limits, but today that was her gig. https://t.co/z4kvqJjJnj— Adam Best (@adamcbest) February 23, 2019
Sunrise spokesman O’Hanlon said Feinstein’s response demonstrates the dire need for “fundamental change in the Democratic Party.”
For her part, Feinstein played off the controversy, calling it a “spirited discussion,” and claiming that the environment remains a “top priority” for her.