Timeliness is everything in a Senator

New York is represented by 2 Senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. Schumer was elected to his office and Gillibrand was selected by then Gov. Patterson. Each has won at least 1 re-election. Therefore you might expect that a seasoned, fully staffed Senator would be interested in and respond to constituents in a timely manner. But this is New York State after all.

As a reminder, to Senator Gillibrand above all else, the purpose of a Senator as envisioned by the Founding Fathers was in part

“…our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority. The senate, therefore, ought to be this body; and to answer these purposes, they ought to have permanency and stability.” – James Madison, quoted in Notes of the Secret Debates of the Federal Convention of 1787 by Robert Yates

Thus a Senator is meant to protect the interest of a State. Not a political party, but the State and via that the interests of the citizens of that State. Because the issues the Senate is meant to address are so huge, it is perhaps even more imperative that Senators understand the views of constituents, and convey to these constituents proposed legislation that will affect them and the nation. That is what elected office is mean to be.

Sen. Gillibrand

Sen. Gillibrand

To that end, we at M V Consulting, Inc have from time to time contacted Senator Gillibrand (and other elected officials depending on the subject matter) with letters on issues of dire concern to the State and the citizens of New York. In each case we have asked for the clarification or justification of legislation and matters of importance. We hope to present to readers the arguments for or against whatever matter so constituents can always properly judge if an elected official is doing their job – or just being a parrot to their respective political party.

In the past we have asked Senator Gillibrand about the Health Care Reform, twice (August 2009 and February 2010), and got a verbatim boilerplate response that addressed none of our questions, nor gave arguments to support the partisan support she provided to the legislation (such as if she read the Health Care Reform, which Senator Gillibrand has never answered to anyone to date).

We have come to learn that such a response is now beneath Senator Gillibrand, apparently. Or that the concerns of constituents are without value to her, based on the results of correspondence since that time.

We asked Senator Gillibrand about the incredulous response of government to withdrawing from the New Black Panther court case that was already won – a decision that directly affects voter intimidation – and heard silence as a response.

We asked Senator Gillibrand about her support of the DREAM Act, a position that she was against when holding a seat in the House of Representatives, in December 2010. An issue that has massive ramification to the nation and the State of New York. Again there was silence.

In July 2011, with the nation on the brink of defaulting on our debt obligations, we asked Senator Gillibrand about the debt ceiling. A crisis that affected every man, woman, child and business in the nation – the response from Sen. Gillibrand was silence to constituents yet again.

Which brings us to the last attempt to contact Senator Gillibrand. We sent a letter to the Senator on November 15, 2012 about the Benghazi investigation which, at the time, had ramifications that could have affected the election – and of which remains a convoluted and ill-defined situation with negative implications to the international policy of the nation and those that represent our nation overseas.

Today, March 13, 2013 – four months after the letter was sent – we received the following response, provided VERBATIM:

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March 13, 2013

Dear Friend,

Thank you for contacting my office. Your thoughts and concerns are very important and I appreciate you taking the time to share them with me. Please know that as I participate in discussions on the issues before the United States Senate, the thoughts and the opinions of all my New York constituents are given careful consideration.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. Please visit http://gillibrand.senate.gov and sign up for my e-newsletter for updates on this, and other important issues being considered by the Senate.


Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senator

The code you see is not an error of the web browser but part of the letter we recieved. What was this letter in response to? What concern was Senator Gillibrand considering? What position does Senator Gillibrand have? Why does it take months, if not years, to get an obviously poorly copied non-response to anything of concern to any constituent?

We understand that the duties of a Senator are multiple and time consuming. We appreciate that we are not one of the mainstream mega-news organizations. But we are constituents and members of the press, that Senator Gillibrand is supposed to respond to and represent. Even if we are to receive a boilerplate response, months after the attempt to get a response, we do not deserve a response that fails to indicate acknowledgement of our concerns and that of our readers who are also constituents of the Senator.

We honestly are not upset that Senator Gillibrand provided such a disrespectful response. We are upset that Sen. Gillibrand has such a lack of concern about constituents, apparently especially those who voice concern about matters of grave importance to the nation, that any half-hearted response is considered appropriate.

It is the apparent disregard for constituents that is the heart of this commentary. Because Senator Gillibrand seems to believe that in New York State her seat is untouchable, and therefore her allegiance is to her political party without consequence from voters.

We ask readers, is this the kind of representation that you expected when Senator Gillibrand trolled the State to get your vote? Does the fact that New York is a Democrat stronghold mean that elected Democrats are freed from their obligations to voters, and constituents must be grateful for any scrap of response or explanation of support for various legislation? Is this what our Founding Fathers intended for the Senate?

The elected office of Senator is first and foremost an elected position. Senators are supposed to be beholden to constituents primarily. Election is not meant to be for life, and does not convey an elevation in status such that response is beneath her station or requirements. Senator Gillibrand is hardly the only Senator or elected official that needs to be reminded of this, but she is our elected representative and so this is directed at her first though not exclusively.

We still welcome any response from Senator Gillibrand, or any elected official. As always we continue to provide the responses we receive verbatim. We have done so in the past, we will continue to do so in the future. Because voters deserve to know all sides of an issue, and for elected officials it is their responsibility to engage the public. All that we ask for is a timely, and targeted, response for our readers – whatever the elected official choses that response to be.

Our hope is only to provide readers with greater input on issues of importance than the 30-second soundbites and tweets that many politicians have come to rely on as a replacement for actual contact and discussion with constituents. In other words, we want them to do their jobs as we do ours. Hopefully the future will see better from Senator Gillibrand. But don’t hold your breath.

About the Author

Michael Vass
Born in 1968, a political commentator for over a decade. Has traveled the U.S. and lived in Moscow and Tsblisi, A former stockbroker and 2014 Congressional candidate. Passionate about politics with emphasis on 1st and 2nd Amendments.

1 Comment on "Timeliness is everything in a Senator"

  1. Comment as found on Facebook

    Luis Christian Camacho-Dilorenzi

    I agree with everything you stated so eloquently

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