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Protesters outside the town hall said they were "absolutely pissed off at Dianne Feinstein" for insufficient resistance against the Trump administration. (Photo: @scottshafer/Twitter)

Waffling on Single-Payer and Trump Resistance, Feinstein Faces Angry Boos

"I am not there," Sen. Dianne Feinstein says of single-payer healthcare, a concept garnering big applause around the country

Deirdre Fulton

It's not only Republicans that are feeling the heat in their hometowns during this congressional recess. Democrats who aren't on board with increasingly popular progressive proposals are being held to account as well.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was a case-in-point on Monday, when she faced angry and vocal constituents at a midday town hall meeting in her hometown of San Francisco.

It was her stance on single-payer healthcare—an idea that's picking up momentum in the wake of last month's TrumpCare debacle, especially in California—that drew the most vociferous response.

When asked about her position on such a system, Feinstein responded: "If single-payer healthcare is going to mean the complete takeover by the government of all healthcare, I am not there."

According to the Los Angeles Times, one audience member called Feinstein a "sellout" as others joined in chants of "single-payer now!"


On this matter, signs show that Feinstein is indeed out-of-step with constituents and colleagues alike. A poll out earlier this month found 61 percent of respondents support "a federally funded health insurance system that covered every American," while Rep. John Conyers' (D-Mich.) Medicare-for-All bill has more legislative support than ever before. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has gotten big applause for his forthcoming Medicare-for-All proposal, and in fact even found widespread support for universal healthcare deep in Trump country.

The 83-year-old senator, who has held her seat since 1992 and has not yet said whether she'll run for re-election next year (protesters at the event asked her not to do so), also caught flak for not opposing President Donald Trump's recent missile strikes on Syria and for not fighting back enough against the Trump administration overall.

The Mercury News reported:

While critics and supporters alike were urging her to speak out more forcefully against Trump, even goading her to call the president "a fascist," Feinstein resisted, and explained how her power was limited as a single senator in the minority party.

"Everybody thinks that every one person in the House or Senate can change the direction," she said. "Ladies and gentlemen, we can't."

That stance was uninspiring to 27-year-old Jegath Athilingam, a neuroscience doctoral student at UC San Francisco, who told SF Gate: "We would like to see her represent her liberal constituency a lot more forcefully. We want to see her take the lead, as someone with her amount of seniority should do."

SF Gate added:

The Feinstein camp knew who would be in Monday's audience. In the lobby of the building, Feinstein aides posted 36 statements, position papers, and opinion page pieces, most focused on how she has opposed Trump nominees (labeled "Feinstein on Trump nominees") or taken stances different from the administration.

Not mentioned there were the nine Trump nominees she voted to confirm, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis. A Feinstein aide said that given Trump's lack of expertise in international and military policy, she wanted to surround the president with seasoned professionals.

Again, such excuses don't pass muster with some members of the resistance.

"San Francisco citizens, activists, and voters...are absolutely pissed off at Dianne Feinstein over her...votes in favor of Trump nominees and her comments saying Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court was 'quote, impressive,' [and] her whispering to the Republican Party: 'Do not worry, the Democrats will stand aside and allow you to achieve the Trump agenda,'" Ben Becker, a San Francisco resident and delegate for the California Democratic Party, told the Sacramento Bee. "We will not stand aside and allow the Trump agenda to go forward. That is unacceptable—not in San Francisco, not in America."

To Feinstein, he declared: "Do not seek re-election. We will not vote for you."

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