The time has come for Senator Dianne Feinstein – and some others – to set off

Diane Feinstein Photo by Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

If not careful, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) Could become Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the US Senate.

Ginsburg was a feminist icon who served in the Supreme Court for many years but didn’t know when to leave. Despite being an eighty-year-old cancer survivor, she refused to step down, while Democrat Barack Obama had a friendly senate who appointed her successor. She died just before the 2020 elections, which allowed then-President Donald Trump and the GOP-led Senate to nominate her successor and create a conservative 6-3 super-majority in the high court – which is no coincidence that it will likely topple. Roe v Wade sometime soon. For Democrats, Ginsburg’s decision not to retire was a disaster with consequences that will be felt for decades.

Feinstein, 88, probably can’t cause such a fuss with his reluctance to leave the Senate: she hails from California, a heavily oppressed state by the Democrats. Her successor – elected by the governor or state voters – will almost certainly also be a Democrat. But it is it becomes more and more difficult to defend her continued service as an elected official. this The Chronicle of San Francisco Last week they reported that some of her colleagues (all anonymous, of course) believe she has become mentally incapable of service, saying that she is increasingly suffering from memory lapses that make it difficult for her to have long conversations.

“She was an intellectual and political force not so long ago and that is why my encounter with her was so shocking,” one lawmaker told the newspaper. – Because there was simply no sign of it.

Feinstein released a statement to the newspaper defending its record, saying: “There is no doubt that I continue to serve and deliver to the people of California,” and several colleagues – including House of Representatives president Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) – also spoke favorably of her. But concerns about Feinstein’s ability to do her work have been an open secret for years. They’re not going anywhere.

Feinstein’s friends do not seem to be of similar age either. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is also 88 years old and is running for re-election. Pelosi is 82 years old. Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) is 71 years old, while Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Is 80 years old. President Joe Biden – you may have heard – is also fast approaching the 80s tradition of this kind of thing, especially in the Senate: Strom Thurmond (RSC) served in the hall until the age of 100.

It actually isn’t Great precedent – Thurmond’s inability to do the job during his final years in the Senate was also widely known – but that is what some of Feinstein’s allies are now citing in his defense. “They ravished” the criticism of the senator, Chronicle reports, “when the history of Congress is filled with aging male politicians who remained in office despite a declining state.”

Let’s call it the “Ginsburg Defense.”

When the late justice system came under liberal pressure during Obama’s second term to retire, some of his allies suggested that sexism could be true the primary reason for the inspection. “Tell a strong woman what to do too many times and she will tell you (politely, if you’re lucky) to stuff it,” wrote Emily Bazelon in 2013. Slate an article titled “Stop Talking Ruth Bader Ginsburg Until Retirement.”

How did that end with the problems Ginsburg cared about? Wrong, I would say.

Understandably, Ginsburg and Feinstein – who held leadership positions in the country almost unimaginable to previous generations of women – may have seen less honorable motives among their critics: both of them must have dealt with a lot of sexism throughout their careers. But time is ruthless and comes to all of us, regardless of gender. Sometimes you have to leave the stage.

What is worth it is not just a question of Dianne Feinstein. As Atlantic David Graham points out that the average age in the Senate is 64 – the oldest ever collective membership in the chamber. Maybe there is some experience and wisdom that benefits the country, but the trade-off is a breath of gerontocracy to the whole enterprise, the feeling that the country is run by and for a group of people who (regardless of good intentions) do not necessarily make a large contribution to its long-term future. There is a danger that the government will be filled with elected officials who hang around for too long.

Good leaders keep an eye on this future when they stop ruling. Sometimes that means reading politics and leaving while there is a chance to find a suitable replacement, which Ginsburg failed to do. Sometimes it means recognizing that a new generation of leadership is needed, or that someone else can bring a fresh boost of energy to your leadership work. This is an opportunity that Feinstein – and Grassley and many of their aging colleagues – should now consider. This is what the future looks like: sooner or later it continues without us.

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