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When children with the Sunrise Movement confronted Senator Dianne Feinstein over her inaction on climate change, reminding her of the report concluding we only had twelve years left to prevent irreversible destruction, she told them she’d been making policy for thirty years. “I know what I’m doing.” She belittled the youth who came to ask her for protection. She was older than they were and clearly knew more. She couldn’t be bothered with anything children might say.

Senator Dianne Feinstein

In almost every sense of the word, someone Feinstein’s age does in fact “know” more than a 12-year-old or 16-year-old. How could they not? But just being old doesn’t automatically make every opinion and position an older person holds correct. If that were the case, Trump would be right most of the time. He’s certainly older than the majority of Americans.

Feinstein failed when she used her age and time on the job as proof she knew better than the people she was representing.

Feinstein failed when she used her age and time on the job as proof she knew better than the people she was representing. If we don’t want a government run by oligarchs, age isn’t a much better qualification for leadership. In fact, when people dislike an older politician, it’s often their age which is used as a weapon against them. “Bernie Sanders is too old. Hillary Clinton is too old. Elizabeth Warren is too old.” But if it’s a “moderate” who doesn’t want to accept scientific evidence, her age has taught her the wisdom of being “reasonable.”

While I don’t think Feinstein’s age gives her ignorance of science the weight she thinks it does, I also don’t think it counts against her. The problem is her position, not her age. “I have seven grandchildren,” she said to the students who came to her office, as if that proves she would never do anything to harm the next generation. As if parents never kill their children. As if grandparents never molest their grandchildren. Having offspring is no proof of altruism or morality. If Feinstein didn’t have children, would that mean we couldn’t trust anything she said?

Trump has children, too, obviously. That hardly makes his position on mercury levels, water pollution, coal, or anything else right. How about his censoring climate change information from the EPA, the Energy Department, and the State Department websites?

When Feinstein was first elected as senator, she did not vote only the way senior senators told her to. She didn’t feel back then that their time on the job made every position they took the right one no matter what she believed personally.

Feinstein’s age, her gender, her offspring, her skin color, her religious background, and the size of her shoes have nothing to do with the issues being discussed. Greenhouse gases, global warming, and climate change are dangers we can only address with scientific evidence and a massive, international effort to save what we can.

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Whether or not elected officials refuse to support the Green New Deal because of donations from fossil fuel industries or an inability to wrap their heads around the science, they must be abandoned in favor of leaders willing to step up and face reality. We don’t have four years or six years or eight years to slowly convince them of the need to take action.

The DNC freely gives our money to candidates who protect the fossil fuel industry, so we cannot give our donations to the party as a whole, only to individual candidates and organizations that support absolutely essential policies. We only have a handful of election cycles left before it will simply be too late to do anything meaningful to limit the most devastating consequences of climate change.

Maybe that 12-year-old Feinstein dismissed as irrelevant doesn’t know who Dan White is. But she knows something Feinstein doesn’t, the urgency of the situation. The senator told the children she didn’t like being given the ultimatum, “your way or the highway,” stating stonily, “I don’t respond to that.” Feinstein then told the kids she was going to do what she wanted to do and if they didn’t like it, that was too bad. The kids at least learned a lesson in double standards.

One wonders if she treats her seven grandchildren with the same W.C. Fields impersonation. “Go away, kid, you bother me.” Sounds like a remake is in the works.

Of course, that’s the way it is with moderate Democrats. They want the rest of us to just accept whatever they say and do. Progressives, conservationists, scientists—we’re just too stupid and naïve to understand how the real world works.

Maybe 16-year-olds can’t vote, Senator. But there are plenty of voters over the age of eighteen who won’t be dismissed as easily. We’re tired of being treated like children by “wise,” “reasonable” moderates. Democrats who refuse to do what is necessary on any of the essential issues won’t have to wait twelve years to see their world falling apart. THAT political change is already here.

Johnny Townsend

Johnny Townsend