This article titled “‘You didn’t vote for me’: Senator Dianne Feinstein responds to young green activists” was written by Lois Beckett in Oakland, for theguardian.com on Saturday 23rd February 2019 11.48 UTC
The California senator Dianne Feinstein is facing criticism over a video of her response to a group of children and teenagers asking her to support the Green New Deal.
The video clip shows parts of a Friday morning meeting between the Democrat and young activists from the Sunrise Movement. Founded in 2017, the group organizes young people to fight climate change and support the Green New Deal.
When Feinstein pushes back on the young activists’ request, one child says: “The government is supposed to be for the people, by the people, and all for the people.”
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I know what I’ve been doing,” Feinstein responds. “You come in here and say it has to be my way or the highway. I’ve gotten elected. I just ran. I was elected by almost a million vote plurality and I know what I’m doing. Maybe people should listen a little bit.”
“I hear what you’re saying,” a teenage activist says. “But we’re the people who voted you, you’re supposed to listen to us.”
“How old are you?” Feinstein asks her.
“I’m 16,” the young woman responds.
“Well, you didn’t vote for me,” Feinstein says.
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.
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.”
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.”
By Friday night, the video the Sunrise Movement shared on Twitter, which had been edited and focused on clips of the most tense moments from the meeting, had been viewed more than 3m times.
The full video of the meeting between Feinstein and the young activists was also available on the group’s Facebook page. 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.
In the full video, Feinstein repeatedly urges the young activist to read her draft legislation and explains the reasons she cannot support the Green New Deal. “There’s no way to pay for it,” she tells the children.
“It doesn’t have a single Republican vote, and the Republicans control the US Senate,” she adds. “I’ve been in the Senate for over a quarter of a century, and I know what can pass and I know what can’t pass.”
The Green New Deal, a proposal that aims to fight inequality and tackle climate change at the same time, is being advanced by the congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, among other Democratic lawmakers.
The proposal could face a vote in the senate as early as next week.
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