She announced this yesterday, and I have lots of thoughts on this. This post is seemingly going to be all over the place, but I have a lot to say and a lot of ancillary points to make so bare with me.
Before I get to her announcement, I’d like to share my thoughts in Gillibrand. Before she ran for Hillary’s senate seat, Kirsten Gillibrand was a congresswoman from a conservative congressional district in upstate New York. During that period, she described her own congressional voting record as “one of the most conservative in the state.” She was endorsed by the NRA, who gave her a 100% rating so she was the bestest kind of ammosexual who loved to brag about the gun she kept under her bed. She was not for marriage equality, but instead supported civil unions.
Needless to say, I had no interest in voting for Annie Oakley to become our next senator. I knew that there was no chance that she wasn’t going to win, but she wasn’t going to do it with my vote. By the time she ran for that senate seat again in 2013, her voting record in the senate had won my vote.
I changed my mind, based on new facts (so much more on this later.)
I wouldn’t say that at that (or any) point, that I was an enthusiastic supporter. She’s certainly never impressed me like Bernie or Elizabeth Warren but nonetheless, she impressed me enough to get my vote. I have always had a healthy skepticism about her for a couple of reasons:
- She’s clearly a chameleon, capable of becoming anything she needs to become.
- She’s pretty entrenched in the democratic establishment, which always makes me wary. I’m especially wary of democratic establishment candidates from the tristate area, since we’re the epicenter of special interest political contributions.
Healthy skepticism. That’s pretty much how I look at all politicians.What does that really mean? It means that I look at every vote they cast, every statement they make, and every action they take on an individual basis, completely siloed from every previous statement, vote, and action. So when a really scummy politician like Jan Brewer takes the Medicaid expansion money in the ACA, thereby expanding access to insurance for hundreds of thousands of her constituents in Arizona, I give her credit for doing the right thing. This doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten every loathsome thing she had done prior to that day, nor does it mean that I became a fan of hers. It simply means that my mind can process each act on its own merit, and that my brain doesn’t short circuit when it needs to hold two seemingly (but not really) contradictory facts in my head. Jan Brewer made a string of terrible decisions that hurt the people of Arizona. She disrespected the president in a disgusting and racially tinged way and she helped hundreds of thousands of Arizonians get health care. My brain is perfectly content holding all of these facts for me to rely on later.
I don’t have the compulsion to lionize or demonize politicians because politics should not be emotional. When you do anything emotionally, you make the worst decisions.
Here’s another thing I don’t care about: why Jan Brewer took that Medicaid money. I don’t care. I don’t care if she did it for craven political aspirations, or if she did it with the purest of motives. Her thought process is irrelevant to the bottom line, which is that she helped her constituents in a monumental way that day. I am not capable or attributing motivations to people without projecting my own feelings on them, and neither are you. When we start to play the motive game, it’s really nothing more than a tool that we use to avoid that whole short-circuit-of-the-brain thing that happens when you have to hold two seemingly contradictory thoughts in your head.
She did a good thing with bad motivations, so I don’t have to process a good thing since I’ve skillfully negated it and therefore saved my brain the pain of embracing nuance.
This was a difficult habit for me to break, and I must admit that I haven’t entirely broken it but I’m close. We all need to learn to break this habit because it’s poisoning our political decision making process.
If there’s any one thing I’m trying to do with this platform, it’s to get people to think more critically. It’s also an exercise in refining and improving my own critical thinking skills.
I used to love Bill Clinton because he made me feel warm and fuzzy. And then I objectively looked at his record, and his part in shaping the direction of the democratic party. I no longer love Bill Clinton (expect when I’m talking to him – the man can charm like no human on earth should be able to). I have mixed feelings about Bill Clinton, as I do about every politician. So should you.
Now back to Gillibrand. She posted this to Twitter yesterday:
If you’re a longtime follower of mine, you would know that money in politics is my central issue. It is the issue that if solved, solves the lion’s share of our other issues. If you’ve been following me for a couple of years, you would never know this because American is a giant dumpster fire at the moment and I have to dedicate all of my time to addressing the Chief Arsonist. But I digress.
The fact that she has made this move is massive. She’s obviously seriously considering a presidential run. I sincerely hope she does run, because that would make her the second candidate in modern history not to take barrel fulls of corporate money. I want this issue to appear prominently in this next presidential election.
I haven’t spent a single second thinking about her motivations because she’s doing the best thing here.
I was a strong Bernie Sanders supporter in the primaries. He’s also clearly gearing up for a presidential run. Unlike most people, I’m not automatically supporting Bernie because I got so emotionally invested in him last time around that he’s my daddy now. No, I’m going to look at the options before me and reassess. I’ve already vetted Bernie, so the good news is that I don’t need to do that again. But as an informed member of the electorate, I must vet the options I get next time around and give each person running an earnest assessment without projecting my emotions on to them.
I am enthusiastically going to consider someone that I once referred to as “the Annie Oakley of New York” for president because what she’s already done furthers my central issue. I have no compulsion to negate that progress on my core issue by attributing nefarious intentions to her. It simply doesn’t matter to me, because I’ve already won.
So my point in this post is twofold:
I wanted to share my own evolution of thought with you, and hopefully encourage you to leave your emotions behind and think critically about political decisions you make.
I wanted to let you know what a great thing Kirsten Gillibrand is doing, and hope that you take a look at her if she does indeed run for president.
This last presidential election fell apart for two primary reasons: corruption and emotional voting. I sincerely hope we don’t all go through that again (or worse, in perpetuity).