This is sad twice over, once because the pandering is so clunky, twice because it’s so unlikely to succeed.
Our future is:
Powered by our belief in one another.
And we’re just getting started.
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) December 5, 2018
Nate Silver is correct: “The type of people who respond positively to the term ‘intersectionality’ are the type of people who will think she’s a neo-liberal establishment shill and have 4 or 5 other candidates they like better.” She’s trying to out-progressive the field, which is silly given her “Wall Street problem” and the fact that she got her start in Congress as a centrist Democrat who was moderate on guns and immigration. Why would a leftist roll the dice on nominating Gillibrand when they’ll have maybe a dozen true-believing ideologues to choose from?
It gets worse. Arguably the one area in which Gillibrand has set herself apart from the liberal pack a bit, #MeToo issues, is also the one area where she’s gone too far even for some Democrats’ tastes. Her biggest “victory” in Congress on sexual harassment was successfully defenestrating left-wing sweetheart Al Franken for his own #MeToo sins. Some hold it against her to this day. “The future is female” is a cute catchphrase but it may backfire by inadvertently reminding the voters she’s targeting that she ousted Senator Al. Even progressives who respect her for demanding zero tolerance among her colleagues will continue to dislike the fact that it was Franken, of all people, of whom an example was made.
And of course, like so much else about her politics, Gillibrand’s alleged stalwart support for #MeToo victims is opportunistic and fundamentally phony.
I suppose the answer to Silver’s tweet, though, is this: What’s the alternative? What is she supposed to run on if not nonsense like this? She clearly has a burning ambition to be president, as probably half her Senate colleagues do, and she’s resolved to try. But in the post-Hillary Democratic Party, a woman nominee isn’t novel or particularly compelling; even if Clinton hadn’t been nominated two years ago, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris would both still be in the pool this year. And in the post-Bernie, post-Trump Democratic Party, a nominee will need to be both ostentatiously progressive and populist. There’s not much Gillibrand can do about the latter at this point but she can at least sloganeer about the former.
All of which is a roundabout way of saying that there’s zero reason to nominate her, particularly in a field where virtually everyone with a national profile is running. The fact that her attempt to address that criticism here is so feeble is evidence that even she can’t find a reason.
This made me laugh, though. If you had to name one member of the Senate whom you’d describe as the “Republican Gillibrand” — slippery, opportunistic, a centrist known for posing as an ideologue in the name of better electoral positioning — whom would you name? Right:
Our future is:
An identity based not on gender,race,ethnicity or religion. But on the powerful truth that all people are created equal with a God given right to life,liberty & the pursuit of happiness. https://t.co/3Z9QckcaOX
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) December 5, 2018
To be fair to Rubio, he does have some principles. He’s never backed off interventionism, as far as I can remember. And unlike Gillibrand, he took at least one major political risk before running for president in 2016 by joining the Gang of Eight. His posturing as a tea partier began to ease practically from the moment he was elected to the Senate in 2010. He’s really a centrist who posed as an ideologue and then began to return to centrism. His tweet here grates, though, because it shows he’s still engaged in his silly project to try to redefine nationalism so that it stands for what he wants it to mean rather than what it does mean. Whether or not “the future is female,” Gillibrand’s tweet is more accurate than Rubio’s inasmuch as it recognizes that the future will be a battle among identitarian tribes to decide which ones should dominate America. That’s the nationalist vision and part of the intersectional vision. Blubbering about founding ideals is Rubio’s way of trying to insert a different vision. We already tried that, buddy. We’re onto the new thing! Which is also the very, very old thing.