We Need To Talk About Kirsten Gillibrand

by Sara Farrell Baker
Kirsten Gillibrand

In an era when the people are demanding change and new blood in the Democratic Party, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is a breath of fresh air. While many elected democrats seem to be dragging their heels behind their constituents’ calls for active resistance, the New York senator who filled Hillary Clinton’s seat has proven herself to not only be the progressive we’ve been hoping for, but also a politician capable of acknowledging and amending her own missteps.

When she was appointed to the Senate in 2009, Ms. Gillibrand was pro-gun, viewed as anti-immigrant, and had a history of defending the tobacco industry. On a good day, she hardly seemed like she warranted more than an eyeroll from progressives. But — hold onto your hats, this is going to seem crazy — the senator was able to learn from her critics and take what they said to heart. Instead of doubling down, she rethought her positions.

That’s right: A senator admitted she was wrong and listened to her constituents.

While many members of Congress have complained about the recent uptick in phone calls, letters, and emails they are receiving, some blaming it on paid activism and refusing to acknowledge that maybe the people have something to say, Sen. Gillibrand makes herself and her staff available to the voters. While others are shutting off their phone lines *coughPatToomeycough* or locking their office door and guarding it with half a dozen police officers *hackingcoughPaulRyanohgodcough* just so they can put their fingers in their ears and pretend they don’t actually work for us, Sen. Gillibrand’s Manhattan office is meeting with citizens who call.

With a far more liberal record today than anyone would have predicted eight years ago, Sen. Gillibrand has been the only Senate Democrat to oppose all but one of the Cabinet positions put forth by the president. This past week when Americans were gathering in large numbers to speak out and protest against the executive order intended to keep Muslim and Syrian immigrants out of our country, Gillibrand was among them and made her voice heard at a rally in New York. While some Democrats remain intent to achieve compromise with unyielding Republicans, she has emerged as a leading voice in the growing resistance since the 45th president assumed office.

As the left looks toward 2020, the senator from New York has become a popular name on the list of possible candidates Democrats would like to see make a run for the White House. Sen. Gillibrand has demonstrated she can learn from her experiences to become a better public servant and is certainly a flower rising up from the ever-deepening swamp.