Monday, March 4, 2019

2020 Challenger Lineup: Kirsten Gillibrand

[TRIGGER WARNING: MENTION OF SEXUAL ASSAULT/HARASSMENT]

Kirsten Gillibrand. Former Blue Dog Democrat who shifted left (allegedly) during her time as a Senator and earned a lot of mostly negative attention for calling for Al Franken to resign after his history of sexual assault and harassment came to light. Gillibrand gets more than bonus points for sticking to her morals on this rather than being willing to look the other way when it's convenient like a FUCKING HYPOCRITE (looking at you, most of the rest of the Democrats) - she gets my eternal respect.

Gillibrand is quite far left for a Democrat. She not only supports Medicare For All, but also a federal jobs guarantee and the abolition of ICE. In fact, she was the first sitting Senator to call for the abolition of ICE. As far as I know, that is still her position. She also has supported Medicare For All since 2006, when such a position was practically unheard of.

Now, technically, Gillibrand has only launched an exploratory committee and hasn't officially announced her campaign for president, but she's very much expected to do so and also I really hope she does so.

Gillibrand has been a champion of government transparency. "She wrote and secured the passage of the STOCK Act, which finally made it illegal for members of Congress, their families and their staff to profit from insider information gained through public service," reads her campaign website. She is also "one of a few members of Congress who release much personal and scheduling information" according to Wikipedia.

She has also been quite a warrior for women and survivors. In addition to being one of the first to call for Franken to resign, she also publicly said that Bill Clinton should have resigned after the sexual assault and humiliation of Monica Lewinsky. She also wrote a book called Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World in which she exposes a culture of sexism in the U.S. Senate and encourages women and girls to, you know, do the things in the title. This came with the website OffTheSidelines.org, which is still up and active today.

She also supports a "universal pre-K; affordable, high-quality day care; equal pay for equal work; and a national paid family and medical leave program." She is, of course, pro-choice and is a vocal supporter of Planned Parenthood. She is in favor of raising wages, fighting Big Pharma on drug prices, and "affordable college for all Americans." Don't know why she hasn't gotten on board with free universal college education yet.

She was a key player in repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

There are a couple things that raise alarms in my lefty brain. Her website talks a lot about "bipartisanship," which turns me off because you don't negotiate with the devil. But this may be more of a line to try and draw mass appeal, because her examples of "reaching across the aisle" draw on her work before she shifted left.

This includes something that is the biggest red flag for me.

"Following the tragedies of 9/11, Kirsten fought for robust and state-of-the art counterterrorism funding and tools, and national security grant funding to secure vulnerable cities and infrastructure," her campaign website reads. I am not a fan of funding the military-industrial complex based on the islamophobic hysteria that followed 9/11.

She also has said that she wants to abolish ICE to replace it with something different, which worries me. Unless it's completely unrecognizable from ICE, then no.

Gillibrand's Senate campaign website is much more detailed on her positions and also easier to navigate, who built that pixelated mess of her 2020 presidential campaign website? Anyway, I see good things like "no American should ever know hunger," but also concerning things, like supporting programs to bring more Latinx immigrants over into the U.S. so they can pick our produce for us. This is an unfortunate support of exploitation of poor people of color rather than demanding that these essential jobs come with appropriate pay and good health benefits, because that work is so hard on the body. They also need frequent breaks, safety equipment, and robust protection against abuse and exploitation by employers.

On basic immigration policy, she's good. She could be better, but she's good for a Democrat.

She is also for common sense gun control, for medical marijuana laws (nothing on full legalization), and is okay on but doesn't say much about climate change and other environmental concerns.

The entire "national security" section of this website makes me grimace, including her strong support of Israel's increasing militarization with zero mention of Palestinians.

Any mention of racial or criminal justice is LOUDLY absent from both of her campaign websites. However, she did write a children's book about women who were essential in the suffrage movement in which she included at least a couple black women, and in this interview in Forbes, she gives a lot of credit to black women (rightly so) and acknowledges the privileges of white women over black women.

And so their legacy, I think, had a huge impact on people like Ida B. Wells and Mary Church Terrell who really brought that intersectionality argument to the fore and made the case very, very directly that you need to include black women in this movement. Both of them worked on founding the NAACP, The National Association of the Advancement of Colored People. They organized for black women specifically to participate. And the advice I believe would come from Mary Church Terrell is “Stand together,” because she knew that you would minimize your voice if you couldn’t work collectively. She gave some of the most moving speeches about how hard it is for a black woman versus a white woman in that, not only does she have to overcome that she didn’t have those civil rights for generations in this country, but then had to overcome the sexism and the lack of a voice politically, and the combination of both of those burdens was really significant and that those women should not only be praised but should be lifted up because they are enduring so much more.

Good shit, Gillibrand. There's also this headline from some shit far-right news dump called "Newsmax" that makes me smile:

Rep. Gillibrand Joins Anti-Israel, Black Radicals in Forum

None of this, however, explains the absence of calls for racial justice on her campaign website. She also doesn't say anything about LGBT+ issues, though her work to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell tells me something about that. Trans issues, however? Entirely absent. Though she did recently introduce a bill to once again allow trans people into the military. I just wish her support included anything outside of the military machine.

Here is Gillibrand's full voting record. I don't have the energy to look through it all right now.

I was excited to look into Gillibrand's positions, and I've come away a bit disappointed. But I have to remember that I can't expect any Democrat to be as far left as I am. Nobody's going to come away with an A in this series.

Gillibrand gets a B+. Pretty good. I would consider caucusing for her. I think it's possible to bring her even further left, seeing as she seemed to make her shift left before it was trendy. But her official silence on issues of race concerns me, and almost resulted in her losing that +. That'll be something to challenge her on in the months to come.

I've been doing this in order by date declared, but for next week I'm rewinding to Andrew Yang, who declared his campaign way back on November 6, 2017 (yes really), and who recently landed on my radar for supporting universal basic income. He's also been upgraded to "major candidate" on the Wikipedia page I've been using to figure out who I should profile next. I know, anyone could have done it, but whatever, he might be the most leftist candidate, outmatching even Bernie. Should be interesting.

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