Smart Ideas: Passing the Torch

Sen. Dianne Feinstein at the 2018 California Democrats State Convention on Feb. 24 in San Diego.
AP Photo/Denis Poroy
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March 1, 2018, 8 p.m.

Age not the reason Feinstein should go

Miles Howard, writing for The Nation

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 84, has served in the Senate for a quarter-century and in public office for more than four decades but did not receive the California Democratic Party’s endorsement last week. But it isn’t her age that’s the reason she should retire, it’s “her political distance from a Democratic base that is becoming younger and more progressive.” Millennial and Generation X voters are likely closer aligned with her opponent, state senate president Kevin de Leon, on issues like immigration, intelligence, and surveillance. Her fallback argument that her decades of experience “should be considered a powerful asset” isn’t ringing true with younger voters who look more for progressive rigidity (see Bernie Sanders, similarly old but popular with younger voters). “Back in the 1990s, Feinstein could afford to ignore her lefty critics without jeopardizing her electoral odds” in a state that was considerably more conservative at the time. “But tuning out those activists for decades blinded her to how her party’s base had evolved.”

D.C. bump stock ban a policy nothingburger

Alec Ward, writing for Reason

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposed ban on bump stocks would have no actual policy impact. The “great majority of firearms which can accept bump stocks” are already illegal in the city, and since they only operate when a gun is fired they are doubly illegal since “firing a gun is also illegal within city limits, except in self defense.” So why pursue this? For once, the City Council actually wants Congress to intervene in its affairs. Bowser “hopes to force members of Congress to go ‘on the record’ regarding bump-stock prohibition, either letting the District’s symbolic ban stand, or stepping in to veto it.”

Xi Jinping is not a reformer

Isaac Stone Fish, writing for The Atlantic

On Sunday, the Communist Party abolished the two-term limit for the Chinese presidency, allowing the 64-year-old Xi to stay in power indefinitely. Since Xi took power, China has only grown “more politically and economically repressive,” and it’s long past time to stop labeling him a reformist. Analysts have cited many reasons to be hopeful: Xi sent his daughter to Harvard; his mother lives in the “capitalistic southern Chinese city of Shenzhen”; Mao purged his father three times. But none of these are good predictors of reform. “Vietnam’s founding ruler Ho Chi Minh spent four formative years in France,” and Bashar al-Assad “trained as an ophthalmologist in London.” Xi is simply not a reformist—no matter how bad the West wants to believe it.

Chinese President Xi during a joint press briefing with French President Emmanuel Macron, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Jan. 9. AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool

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