To paraphrase Richard Stallman, we’re not glad she’s dead, but we’re glad she’s gone. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) died this past Friday at the age of 90 after a 54-year-long political career. Fewer than one in three Americans remembers a time before she held public office. Whenever such a well-known public figure passes away, mainstream media outlets rush to pour out their hearts about how sad a loss it is, but this week, I aim to remind you that the only thing to mourn here is the loss of Feinstein the person—not Feinstein the politician.
During her three-decade tenure in the U.S. Senate, Feinstein consistently voted to strip American citizens of our basic civil liberties, among those the right to privacy and the right to self-defense. She voted for the notorious Patriot Act in 2001, voted to expand it a decade later, and brazenly defended her position even after the mass surveillance scandals broke throughout the early 2010s. Feinstein was a longtime opponent of encryption and backed numerous bills that would have criminalized all encrypted communications. Culpability for the deplorable state of electronic privacy and security lies, in part, at her feet.
Surveillance concerns aside, Feinstein is perhaps best known for her vocal support of gun control laws. She is remembered nationwide for pushing the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which was in effect from 1994 through 2004 and had no measurable positive effect. After it was recognized as unnecessarily restrictive and largely ineffective, Congress allowed it to sunset, but Feinstein consistently continued to push for even more restrictive successor bills.
With her death, gun control has finally lost one of its most ardent supporters. We shouldn’t be morbid by celebrating Dianne Feinstein’s passing, but we can all breathe a small collective sigh of relief with the knowledge that one more geriatric, out-of-touch political scumbag won’t spend another day lying through her teeth on the Senate floor in her desperation to strip us of some of our most fundamental rights. Whether she was a pleasant person to be around, I cannot say. The only thing I can say for sure is, with regards to her politics, good riddance.