The Good and Bad About New York’s New Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand

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kirsten_gillibrand.jpg Now that Caroline Kennedy is no longer part of the deliberations, New York Gov. David Paterson seems ready to name one-term upstate congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to New York’s vacant senate seat. Born in 1966, Gillibrand becomes the youngest United States senator. Eve Fairbanks over at TNR runs down the merits of the pick. Here are the highlights.

The bad:

[Gillibrand] was the only New York Democrat to support the May 2007 war-funding bill; the others voted against it because it did not contain a troop-withdrawal timetable. She also voted for H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act, which extended immunity to telecoms that spied on U.S. citizens at the behest of the Bush administration.

During this year’s campaign, she described her voting record as “one of the most conservative in the state” of New York.

The good:

She’s one of a few representatives to disclose her daily schedule online, so reporters and constituents can see who’s got access to her. She also posts her earmark requests.

She has a child under one year old: a son, Henry, delivered this past May — just hours after Gillibrand sat through a marathon 13-hour Armed Services Committee hearing. Take that, Sarah Palin!

Gillibrand comes from a conservative district, which may explain her centrist voting record. Hopefully she’ll move left now that she represents the entire state. The most positive thing about the Gillibrand pick, though, is this: it resembles something like a meritocracy. She has a record as a hard-working public servant with committed stances on issues. She worked her way into a position of influence through determination and skill. (In 2008, she won 61% of the vote against a Republican who spent $5.5 million. From what I can tell reading online, she did it through pure smarts and hustle.)

Yes, there are other members of the New York delegation with more time on Capitol Hill. But the primary alternative was none of those people. It was someone with no record and no qualifications other than a family name. Gillibrand got this post because of work, not privilege, and that alone makes me happy.

Update: See Jim Ridgeway’s take on Gillibrand for a more critical view.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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