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Dave Wellenbrock Taking a deeper look at why Feinstein, Pelosi and McNerney prevailed

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Dave Wellenbrock

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 6:14 am

Joe Guzzardi wrote a recent column for this paper entitled, “As California’s ship sinks, why do voters back Pelosi, Feinstein and McNerney?” Unfortunately, it is not a thoughtful piece. Maybe examination of the piece can help to inform our public debate and point to ways to improve it.

First, the question is skewed. It presupposes that the federal government is the reason that California is in fiscal, economic and social trouble. Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, and Jerry McNerney are federal legislators, not California legislators.

It is not evident — nor widely believed — that california’s trouble are the result of federal legislation. indeed, as a number of states are doing pretty well, it would seem that the evidence is that states with our sorts of trouble got themselves into in largely on their own. this seems evident by looking at our state: We over-spent, we have had a dysfunctional Legislature, and we have a skewed tax system, among other problems.

Further on this, it seems a bit hubristic to say that two representatives out of some 400 and one senator out of 100 were able to rain the problems on California. They might have voted for policies that are inept, but they had to have company. So if we are to skewer these legislators, then we ought to add an awful lot of names to the list of folks that should not have been re-elected.

Second, the evidence against Pelosi, Feinstein, and McNerney is not well-marshalled. These legislators “all have egregious anti-American voting records.” These anti-American records, in the article, are having a differing view on immigration.

Having differing views is particularly American; the right to have differing views is protected by the First Amendment. Indeed, the listed differing views have wide support; a lot of Americans support those particular immigration policies. Whether they are good social policies is subject to debate; the right to have differing views is not subject to debate. And holding those differing views does not make one “anti-American.” There are differing views of the American Dream.

Indeed, there are good cases to be made against the three. For example, Pelosi did not do much about working on compromise while she was Speaker of the House. Further, when the previous farm bill came up, she brokered a deal to add certain California crops to the subsidy list as her price for getting the bill through, even though the crops were not in need of support and there was little push to have the subsidies. That is a principled reason to oppose her, but it is unmentioned.

Third, the re-election is attributed to some unfathomable “etched-in-stone resistance to voting for the other guy once in a while.” This reflects a fairly abysmal view of the voters of California, or at least of those who happen to support these three.

To be consistent, the list needs expansion. Tom McClintock was returned by a hefty margin, even though he was in the House while California was sinking. He should be there. My guess is that McClintock is not on the list because he does not support those anti-American immigration policies.

It is American right to rail against those in elected office. But the public debate is best furthered when the railings are principled and supported by persuasive arguments and facts.

If mr. guzzardi wants to know why mcnerney and pelosi and feinstein were re-elected, it would be better to examine the issue more closely. in the recent election, the opponents were not heavyweights. but it would be informative to try to determine why tom campbell, a very viable candidate, was defeated for the united state senate. he had well-presented positions on significant issues facing the united states. i was never convinced that those positions were adequately considered by the public. if they were so considered and he was defeated, that is the american way: We get to select our social policies.

But if they were not considered adequately, this is tragic. And the source of the tragedy is that we have debased our public debate by not considering the facts, by not making clear arguments, and by mis-characterizing the opposition.

Dave Wellenbrock of Lodi is an attorney.

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