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Gillibrand’s new brand: a smart, progressive face

The recent surge of articles published on New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand could not have come at a more opportune time for our campus.  The majority of these articles, penned by writers from Salon, Politico and everywhere in between, focus on Gillibrand’s chances were she to run for office.  Given Hilary Clinton’s resignation as Secretary of State this year, it is anyone’s guess as to whether Hilary’s name will appear on the 2016 ticket.  During her 2012 interview with Barbara Walters for the annual “10 Most Fascinating People” special, our former Secretary of State boldly declared, “You know, I’ve said I really don’t believe that that’s something I will do again. […] You know, it’s– that’s all hypothetical, because right now I have no intention of running.”
 
If Hilary’s words hold true for the 2016 election, man sources are now saying that her New York successor stands a strong chance.  In terms of current campus political conversations, Gillibrand is proving a good choice for a number of reasons.  I, as a voter and feminist, would no doubt be thrilled to see a female Commander in Chief take office.  Though Gillibrand’s election was initially a sore subject for Republicans and fellow Democrats alike (Democrats were uneasy about her Senate seat given her proud association with the Blue Dog Coalition of Democrats – a historically conservative and/or moderate subgroup of the Democratic Party), she has quickly made a name for herself, especially in terms of the nation’s ongoing discourse on gender equality.
 
Maggie Halberman wrote for Politico last week that “After skating to a full term in November, Gillibrand told President Barack Obama he would be wise to foster closer ties to the Senate’s 20 female members; he heeded that advice by having them over for dinner at the White House on Tuesday night.”  With only those twenty seats filled by female senators, we can hope Gillibrand’s outreach to the President will start a greater pattern of visibility and communication with the oval office for these women.  
 
Last week’s campus screening of Invisible War raised awareness of another major issue Gillibrand is pushing.  For those of us who missed the viewing, Invisible War is a documentary detailing the prevailing cover-up of sexual assault and harassment of female U.S. military officers.  The legislation Gillibrand has proposed will ensure that independent prosecutors try these cases, effectively ending the current hushing tradition fueled by commanders with no legal training and simple loyalty to the male soldiers in their units.  If passed, the legislation will put an end to the consequences of these and other conflicts of interest, and hopefully deliver justice to the victims in question.  
 
A secondary piece of legislation GIllibrand has offered will amend the current laws regarding abortions from military doctors, which may only be administered under specific circumstances, including rape, incest or life-endangerment.  Connecting this piece of legislation to the problems presented by military sexual assault, an Katie McDonough wrote in an article for Salon that “[This] rule also has the effect of denying abortion care to military rape victims who are unwilling to risk their careers and privacy by coming forward.”  
 
It may still be too early to tell, but I think that Gillibrand has carved out a balanced but necessarily progressive spot for herself in the modern woodwork of the Senate – one which I would very much like to consider on a ballot in 2016.
 

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