Gillibrand Talks Immigration, Education, That Other Thing You Won't Shut Up About At MSNBC Town Hall
We have a special place in our heart for Kirsten Gillibrand, who was our home state senator during our last few years in New York. She's smart, gutsy, and knows her stuff. MSNBC hosted a town hall last night for the now official presidential candidate, who came out swinging against Donald Trump.
GILLIBRAND: One of the reasons why I'm running for president is because of what Donald Trump has done to this country. He's made her family afraid to worship. He has spread fear and hate and degradation across this country. He has spewed hate, racism, anti-Semitism and has inspired more.
A Muslim woman in the audience expressed concern for her community after the New Zealand mass shooting. She found no comfort in Trump's general "could give a crap" response to violence against Americans who worship differently than he pretends. Gillibrand vowed to "stand up to white nationalism." This truly goes the extra mile, because the current president won't even acknowledge white nationalism exists. We assume he passes by a mirror at least once or twice a day so that's pretty willful denial.
Gillibrand also promised to repeal Trump's immoral and generally speaking illegal Muslim ban. We really dig politicians who've read the actual Constitution and not the backs of racist cocktail napkins.
GILLIBRAND: Donald Trump did not create hate and racism and bigotry and anti-Semitism, but what he has done is poured fuel on a fire that is raging more than I've ever seen it in my lifetime. Hate crimes have gone up exponentially all across my state, all cross the country, all because of what President Trump has unleashed.
We love that Gillibrand doesn't grant Trump the intellectual property rights to his own bigotry. He just happened to catch the white nationalist dance craze at some underground club and brought it to the mainstream on Fox News and "Morning Joe."
Gillibrand also still has the lowest score in the Senate for voting with Trump, which we think is awesome.
Gillibrand defended herself admirably against criticism that her zero tolerance policy against sexual assault or misconduct wasn't more like 1 percent tolerance. People like to cast Gillibrand as the Abigail Williams in Al Franken's Crucible, which is sexist and gross. They claim she went full Macbeth and "took down" a good man for her own ambitions. That's bullshit.
GILLIBRAND: The truth is we miss [Franken] and people loved him, but he had eight credible allegations against him of sexual harassment for groping, two of them since he was a senator and the eighth one was a congressional staffer. I had a choice to make whether to stay silent or not, whether to say, "That's not OK with me," and I decided to say that.
A single New York senator can't force another to resign. If that were so, she'd use that Jedi mind trick on Ted Cruz or Mitch McConnell. Nor can she compel 31 other senators to ask for Franken's resignation. She took a principled, but unpopular, stance and paid a price for it. That's leadership.
Gillibrand said when her own son asked why she was "so tough" on Franken, she knew she had to be clear and firm. Perhaps the next generation of men might finally get the picture.
GILLIBRAND: As a mother, I have to be very clear. It is not OK for anyone to grope a woman anywhere on her body without her consent. It is not OK to forcibly kiss a woman, ever, without her consent. It was not OK for Sen. Franken and it is not OK for you, Theo. Ever. So I needed to have clarity. And if there are few Democratic powerful donors who are angry because I stood up for women who came forward with allegations of sexual harassment, that's on them.
Now that we've blown up the comments, we can move on to her cogent and coherent policy proposals. She discussed making national paid leave an earned benefit. (She's already introduced a family leave bill.) She wants to expand the GI bill to make college free through public service. She pledged to go after drug companies that deliberately make their drugs "stronger" and "more addictive." She also explained her evolution on immigration and gun safety.
Oh, and she called out yacht collector Betsy DeVos for not wanting to protect victims of sexual violence on college campuses. She also claimed DeVos was one of the "big problems" with Trump in general (Factcheck: True).
Overall, Gillibrand crushed this town hall, which we suggest you scroll back up and watch right now.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.