What does America Need Now, Opportunist or Progressive?



Giovanni LoPiccolo


On January 5th, 2018, the Daily Beast posted an article called “The Trouble with Kirsten Gillibrand”. Kirsten Gillibrand is the junior Senator from New York of the Democratic Party, and the problem with this article by the Daily Beast is not their targeting of a fellow New Yorker; it’s the message.

Kirsten Gillibrand is seen as a the prodigy and next Hillary Clinton, since Gillibrand took Clinton’s US Senate seat in 2009 after becoming Secretary of State to then-President Barack Obama. She’s been ridiculed and has taken punches, like many women have in politics. She was called chubby by a fellow senator after having a child, and just recently; Donald Trump tweeted about her, hinting she’d engage in sexual activity for campaign donations. It takes a lot of gut and gall to be a public official, especially one that is under constant besiege by the public.

This article bashes Gillibrand about her transparency in her actions, that she’s voted against every Trump Cabinet nominee, against the $700 billion dollar military budget proposal, one of the first senators to call upon Al Franken’s resignation, and so much more. What are people really expecting from our elected officials. People complain that they don’t do enough press briefings, engage with the communities about issues that are truly pertinent, or that they aren’t progressive enough… now, some are complaining she’s too transparent. I think, some people are asking for too much from these people. Although yes, of course, they need to be held accountable.

In 2013, John Oliver interviewed Kirsten Gillibrand about her ties to Wall Street (you can find the link to that article with quotes from the interview below), and pressed her on why she took in donations from big banks. He goes onto show that there’s a blurred line between where money and politics should be divided, and Gillibrand gives somewhat a generic answer about serving all the needs of New York. Now, she’s beginning to shy away from that.

I would say that Kirsten Gillibrand is an opportunist. She is trying to harness the energy growing from the left, thanks to Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, a progressive surge that is waking up many Americans. In a country completely dominated by the Republican Party, we need to just accept the fact most Democrats in office may become opportunists. My message to my fellow progressive citizens: let them change, and if they aren’t becoming an opportunist; force them to. Our current mission is to purge the government of this radical right-wing extremism, and it isn’t going to happen overnight, or in one election cycle. Let’s make them more transparent to make sure they really are becoming progressive.

We need to support our Democrats, for now (emphasis on FOR NOW). They are the only people who can stop the Republican agenda at this stage. Our grassroots organizing and message worked in Alabama, where there the people elected a Democrat to the Senate for the first time in over twenty years. Doug Jones, proclaimed the winner of the special Senate election, is a moderate. He even stated that he could vote with Republicans on some issues. Yes, he said that. More specifically, he elaborates, “One of the problems in American politics right now, in my opinion, is that everybody thinks because you’re a member of one party or another, you’re going to vote a certain way,” he said. “And that should not be the case, should never be the case. I’m going to talk to people on both sides of the aisle, try to figure out what I think is in the best interest of my state and the country.” 

Doug Jones seems to have his heart in the right place, to heal the wounds that are hindering our country from moving forward. Getting things done in America doesn’t happen so fast. Our nation was founded in 1776. The Bill of Rights wasn’t ratified until 1791. Slavery wasn’t outlawed until 1863. Women didn’t get the right to vote until 1920. The Civil Rights Act wasn’t passed until 1964. You weren’t required to have health insurance until 2014. There is still a lot more to be done, many more hurdles to leap over, obstacles to overcome, and wars to win. The United States won’t become greater if we don’t listen to each other, if we don’t let ourselves learn about one another. And it certainly won’t become greater if we don’t work together. We need to pick which battles to fight to our greatest extent, rather than exasperate our energy and reputation.

Right now, we’ve been set back. We can’t jump from far right wing to progressive in every county, state, or federal election. Some places are more difficult than others to do so. The key is to continue informing the public of what’s going on, what we will lose because of the Republican/Trump government. We take whatever progressive we can get, even if they are an opportunist. If they are willing to change to maintain their office, then we keep voting for them. The moment they do something that betrays our trust, values, and morals, that’s it for them. A quick example: Elizabeth Warren was one of many Democrats who voted for the $700 billion military budget. I have no clue why, but we’re not going to let that slide. We will figure that out, she must explain her decision in doing that. And if she can’t, and when a better candidate comes around, we vote for him or her. As Bernie Sanders has said numerous times, political revolutions don’t happen overnight.


Cover Art of Bernie Sanders by author: Giovanni LoPiccolo

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