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The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

Dianne Feinstein’s Life, Legacy, and the Future of Congress

Becky Hammel
Diane Feinstein’s official portrait

Dianne Feinstein, one of the longest-serving United States senators and a prominent figure in the Democratic Party, passed away on September 29, 2023, at the age of 90. Feinstein was known for her centrist leanings and served as the mayor of San Francisco before becoming California’s first female senator in 1992. Throughout her political career, Feinstein achieved several important accomplishments that had a significant impact on the country.


Feinstein’s role in the passing of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, the first law to restrict the sale and possession of certain types of firearms, was instrumental. Feinstein’s own experience with gun violence in San Francisco helped push the legislation over the edge. This law was seen as a major victory for gun control advocates, and Feinstein’s leadership during the legislative process was widely praised.


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Feinstein was also instrumental in the passage of the Violence Against Women Act, which provided funding and resources to combat domestic violence and sexual assault. This law was seen as a landmark achievement in the fight for women’s rights and was later expanded to include protections for LGBTQ+ individuals and Native American women.


Despite her many accomplishments, Feinstein’s age had become a major concern for some of her colleagues in recent years. She was the oldest female senator to serve, and her age had led to bouts of forgetfulness during votes where she was prompted multiple times to say either aye or nay but was unable to until her colleague whispered “Just say aye.” Some of Feinstein’s Democrat colleagues called for her to resign due to her age as her health issues kept her from participating in over 100 votes in her last term.


Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, has also faced public scrutiny recently due to episodes where he appears to freeze and his use of a wheelchair. This has led to questions about his fitness to serve as a senator, and has added fuel to the debate about age limits in government.


These high-profile incidents among elderly senators has led to increasing discourse and support for age and term limits for government officials in America. According to a recent poll, 77 percent of Americans support age limits for politicians, with 45% of those who support age limits believing they should limit those aged 70 and above. Efforts are being in North Dakota to pass a proposed ballot measure that seeks to implement congressional age limits of 80 years old in the state.


The debate about age limits in government is not a new one, but it has gained renewed attention in recent years as the average age of politicians in Congress has continued to rise. As the country becomes more diverse and younger generations become more politically active, it is important to consider the impact of having a government that is not representative of the population it serves.


In the case of Diane Feinstein, her legacy will be remembered for her many achievements, but also for the debate that has followed her passing. As the country continues to grapple with issues of age and representation in government, it is important to remember the contributions of those who have served, while also looking towards a more diverse and inclusive future.

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About the Contributor
Panni Peschke
Panni Peschke, Design Editor

Panni Peschke is a senior at MAST Academy. A Miami native, her parents hail from Germany and Colombia, giving her an international background and a grasp on three languages.

Panni has been previously published in MAST’s literary magazine, Spilt Milk, and joined The Beacon to exercise her writing abilities. She aims to publish a healthy mix between sociopolitical issues and local experiences for her fellow students to enjoy.

In her spare time, Panni enjoys filling her parent’s counter, cabinet, and oven space with different materials for her baking obsession.

To complement her creative interests, Panni aims to study business to create a balance between arts and sciences.

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