In the weeks that followed the election, she says, Washington was eerily quiet. Everybody was so like a sadness you couldn’t process,” she says.
“Most of the people I know who were die-hard Hillary supporters, I didn’t talk to for at least two weeks.
It was like a death in the family where you didn’t even want to call because it would be too hurtful.” When the Senate convened for its brief lame-duck session, it became clear that “a lot of people wanted to fight and a lot of people were still, in my opinion, shell-shocked, not sure what this new world was going to look like.” Gillibrand explains the divide as generational, “the difference between someone seeing the election as it is and seeing the election as it would normally be.” One view is “he’s going to have his Cabinet; he’s entitled to his advisers; you don’t fight these kinds of things.” It depends, she says, on “how many administrations have you seen? ” Some of those who have “lived a long time, seen it a hundred times,” believe the institutions will survive the challenges presented by Trump.
“Then there are others that see it in terms of what I see: that it’s not going to be normal at all.” Cohesive party strategy — at least among Democrats — in the Senate is not easily achieved.
“I’ve never lived through a moment in history where people are using their voices and becoming strong advocates for what they believe in.” The only comparable contemporary example is from the right: the tea-party wave that swept through Congress in 2010. The message is coming from regular people, and no one is telling them what to do.” “There’s victory in just seeing Democrats fight for what’s right,” says Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL, who often consults with Gillibrand on how to approach the caucus.
“Kirsten understands that going along to get along yielded nothing in terms of compromise.
” The woman next to me raised an eyebrow in surprised approval, and I recalled an anecdote from Gillibrand’s memoir that I had not previously believed, in which Al Sharpton referred to her as “Reverend Kirsten Gillibrand.” The improbability of Gillibrand’s preaching skills matches the improbability of her role as a Democratic holy warrior against Donald Trump.
Appointed to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat in 2009, Gillibrand came to the Senate with a reputation as a moderate upstate hack, an unremarkable product of New York’s political machine.
N.), earning admiration from progressives frustrated by other Democrats’ initial willingness to “work with” Republicans.“Each elected leader,” Gillibrand said, her voice growing stronger, “has been placed in that position of authority for a time such as this …We are the ones who have to fight against the hateful words that come from the highest places, from the places of power in Washington.” With increasing volume and assuredness, she called on the congregation to “ ‘put on the full armor of God, so that on the day evil comes, today, you’ll be able to stand your ground’ … ” Gillibrand moved on to Philippians, shouting as the crowd rose to its feet, “We are the ones that God placed here at a time such as this to fight!Through some combination of happenstance and remarkable political instincts, she often manages to show up there early.When I first meet Gillibrand, it’s two and a half weeks after the inauguration, and she is rattled. “Constant anxiety dreams.” She describes waking in the middle of the night, fretting over a friend’s daughter who’d tried to sell her Girl Scout cookies: “ So at three in the morning I’m typing out this email,” pretending to have a Girl Scout cookie emergency.