Tulsi Gabbard is running for President in 2020. In an interview with Van Jones on CNN today, Friday the 11th of January, the Congresswoman from Hawaii revealed she is indeed running for President in the next race. A formal announcement she says will come next week.
Tulsi Gabbard is a progressive warrior. Literally, she is a major in the Hawaii National Guard, having seen two tours in Iraq, whilst today being an active guard member. From her time in wars, she has developed an intense devotion to anti-interventionism. "There are a lot of reasons for me to make this decision. There are a lot of challenges that are facing the American people that I'm concerned about and that I want to help solve," Rep. Gabbard said, claiming that criminal justice reform, healthcare reform, and tackling Climate Change, will be key parts of her platform.
Indeed, such a layout of policies is inline with how much of a progressive leader she has been seen by many to be. Rep. Gabbard’s anti-war stance has been consistent and very bold against the onslaught of the establishment’s and the Military Industrial Complex’s war machine over the past many years. A welcome change. Honestly, it takes guts to put up anti-war stances like that in such an endlessly pro-war political landscape as we have today. It’ll take those type of guts to fight against the special interests and politics-as-is in both parties, and in the media, to pass all those key progressive policies that must be passed.
That’s why Tulsi Gabbard’s candidacy is exciting.
However, it’s not all roses on Congresswoman Gabbard’s record. Not at all. There are several key concerns the progressive base is split on, and rightly worried about, that certainly need resolving.
Recently it’s surfaced that back in the early 2000’s, when Gabbard was in her early twenties, she made several public homophobic comments. Back then, as her father was a rampant homophobe, she called for the Democratic Party to resist “homosexual activists”, when she was running for Hawaii’s state legislature, at the age of 21.
She worked with her father when she was young in the movement to pass a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage. And she in a press release from the Alliance for Traditional Marriage, she said:
“This war of deception and hatred against my mom is being waged by homosexual activists because they know, that if elected, she will not allow them to force their values down the throats of the children in our schools”
In 2012 however, when she first ran for Congress, she apologised for her previous homophobic views:
“I want to apologize for statements that I have made in the past that have been very divisive and even disrespectful to those within the LGBT community,” she said. “I know that those comments have been hurtful and I sincerely offer my apology to you and hope that you will accept it.”
And since then, indeed she has been a strong champion of LGBT rights, voting for being committed to several pieces of legislation and pro-LGBT caucuses.
She further went onto apologise for her past comments recently:
If these comments were made recently, without any evidence of change, then that’s it, I’d be done with her or anyone who said that. These, and the other comments she made are despicable.
But I believe, with the years she’s spent voting and supporting LGBTQ rights, that she indeed has changed, as many have. The objective analysis of whether she is being genuine in saying she’s changed, and whether she can be trusted to fight for the rights of that community in the future, which I believe she is and that she can be, is one thing.
It’s much more though up to the LGBTQ community to decide whether her apology is enough for the pain caused, and whether she is worthy of the support of the community, even if she fights for those rights in the future, because of the hurt of her discrimination in the past.
Further problems lay in her reported past ties to Hindu nationalists in India, under the current Prime Minister there, Narendra Modi. Gabbard herself is a Hindu, and in the past she has been linked to and received donations from Hindu groups in America that have had right-wing, nationalist leanings.
She has since cut off relations publically with those groups, and fervently rejects accusations that her relations with Hindu groups or leaders disclaims her belief in true equality for all.
Further still are comments she’s made about torture:
Given all this, it’s fair to ask why people consider her a progressive leader at all? Well, her recording on the voting sheet and in the pulpit on domestic issues - taxing the rich, domestic infrastructure, legalising marijuana, protecting and expanding the civil liberties and protections of minorities, reducing inequality, and much more - is excellent.
So too are her stances on ending this cycle of disastrous Western interventionism abroad.
Her discriminating LGBTQ stances were long in the past and there have been plenty of examples of change to the right side of history, since then. But the other problems are more recent and less answered, and show a contrary character to the image of a progressive icon she has earned.
It’s certainly worth then to give her a chance to explain her stances on these issues, as aside from those, she has earned her title as a progressive leader.
Talking of progressive leaders, Rep. Gabbard’s part in the national movement was made as a chief player in another presidential campaign. In 2016, Rep. Gabbard made headlines when she resigned from the DNC to join and support Bernie Sanders as a supporter in his campaign, one of the very few Congressional members to do so. She did so as she claims, because of the war hawkish stances of Hillary Clinton, and Bernie’s objective of an end to reckless interventionism, and peace. And she cares about getting money out of politics.
I’m a big fan of Tulsi Gabbard, assuming these problems are resolved. She is a principled, proud, and since she’s been in Congress - a fighting progressive. And she’s my second favourite, if Bernie Sanders decides not to run.
But, whilst I definitely believe she’s long evolved on LGBTQ issues, my support of her is contingent on her answers to the questions people have on her stances on nationalism, and torture.
Assuming again that she comes out strong on those questions, Rep. Gabbard will be an excellent second choice after Bernie, or close thirds after Elizabeth Warren. She knows about fighting against corruption and standing up for what’s right. That kind of character is exactly what we need to secure the political revolution.
Let’s hope she shows us all she’s gotten it right.