No More “Well What About…” Politics


Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is a prominent voice in the "accusatory politics" debate. (ANDREW DALLOS VIA FLICKR)

By OMAR ELKHATIB, Contributing Writer

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has become one of the top leaders and figures in the Senate as of late, having been in the news multiple times in the last several weeks. After more sexual allegations against fellow Senator Al Franken of Minnesota were reported, Gillibrand and more than two dozen other Senators called for Franken to resign. On her Facebook page, Gillibrand wrote, “Enough is enough,” leading the way in holding our leaders in Congress accountable for their actions.

Calling on anyone who has been involved in sexual misconduct allegations to resign, especially in the wake of Harvey Weinstein and many others, would normally be applauded. However, many Democrats were not quick to support the move by Gillibrand. This begs the question: when we say we care about the victims of assault, does that empathy stop at party lines? What Gillibrand did by calling on Senator Franken to resign was take a bold step in cleaning up our Congress, regardless of party affiliation. Many middle-class working families around the country have real issues they would like resolved, but oftentimes, these issues are overshadowed by the constant news of sexual misconduct allegations from our leaders.

Many Democrats, however, are angry that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who many people believe was involved in far worse conduct than Franken, is still in a position of power. For these Democrats, Gillibrand’s move is unpopular, but so long as we play this “Well what about…” finger-pointing politics, we are not moving forward as a country. We should be tackling issues such as net neutrality, the GOP tax bill and a plethora of other impactful issues.

This is not the first time that Gillibrand has led the charge against sexual misconduct within her own party. The Senator also came under fire for her comments on Bill Clinton, saying the former President should have resigned after the news of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky surfaced during his tenure as President. Certainly Senator Gillibrand has also condemned the actions of those on the right, such as Roy Moore and even President Trump himself, yet for some reason, that news is overshadowed when politicians call out their own party members. For leaders such as Senator Gillibrand, who is ahead of many in terms of addressing sexual assault, leadership is beyond just pointing fingers at the other side. Despite much outcry from Democrats, it seems as though the Senator is thinking long term about the future and health of our lawmaking process, which is exactly why she has found success in her position. Leaders do what is right, not what is popular, and as Democrats, Republicans and Independents, we need to realize what  we need  to make our society and culture better than the state it is in today.

Among the hectic news cycle of politics, we forget sexual assault is not a partisan issue, and if we truly care about the victims and want to eradicate this systemic issue as we say, we must realize that when leaders like Senator Gillibrand hold people to a high standard, it benefits all of us regardless of party.