Monday, February 18, 2019

2020 Challenger Lineup: Tulsi Gabbard


UPDATE: Due to new information coming to my attention about Gabbard post-debate including the fact that she has many alt-right fans (as weird as that is) and spread the lie that "Mueller said no collusion," I'm changing her grade to an F. Extremely disappointing.

On week two of this series which may or may not be at all helpful to anyone, I'm taking a look at Tulsi Gabbard. She announced her campaign on January 11, 2019, the first to do so other than that weird white dude I profiled last week.

Gabbard has already been hobbled by her homophobic past. She used to be a "traditional marriage" activist, working with her father to create a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Hawaii. She even opposed civil unions, and worked with a homophobic PAC that promoted conversion therapy. She opposed and protested against bills to give the same rights to same-sex couples in civil unions as those in marriages between men and women as well as research on LGBTQ+ students. This went on as recently in 2004. By 2012, she had publicly reversed her position, saying "tours of duty in the Middle East" changed her mind. I don't know how that works.

As a pansexual person, I'm skeptical of Gabbard. I'm suspicious that any change of heart could just be because it became untenable to be a Democrat who was against same-sex marriage. Then again, she could have switched parties. It is possible for people to genuinely go from being homophobic to not homophobic, but I think any suspicion against her is warranted and the whole thing will hinder her.

Gabbard is a woman of color. She's Samoan, Indian, and openly Hindu. It would be awesome to have a woman of color as President who is also not Christian.

Her positions are, in general, fairly progressive. She supports Medicare for All, strongly opposed the TPP, supports abortion rights, supports a $15 minimum wage, supports free college for anyone with family income under $125,000. She looks to be generally against "U.S. involvement in regime change," and rightly said that that imperialist shit is "counterproductive" to defeating organizations like ISIS. I may have paraphrased. She extends this policy today to Venezuela. Then again, she criticized Obama for refusing to use the phrase "Islamic extremists," which was some Islamophobic bullshit.

She supports Israel and voted against condemning them for building illegal settlements on Palestine land.

She voted to condemn Holocaust distortion in Poland and Ukraine.

She's highly critical of Saudi Arabia and once basically called Trump Saudi Arabia's bitch. Big points there. Even so, she opposed Obama's decision to bomb the country because it just causes more problems. She has also said that the U.S. is "complicit in a humanitarian disaster" in reference to Yemen.

She joined the protests against the "final leg" of the Dakota Access pipeline as one of those awesome veterans. She's pretty awesome on environmentalism in general.

She is one of the few Democrats who has committed to not taking any corporate money for her campaign and has been endorsed by End Citizens United.

She wasn't as strong against Trump as she could have been early on. She was the second Democrat to meet with Trump. According to CNN, this is her justification:

"President-elect Trump asked me to meet with him about our current policies regarding Syria, our fight against terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS, as well as other foreign policy challenges we face," Gabbard said in a statement. " 
I felt it important to take the opportunity to meet with the President-elect now before the drumbeats of war that neocons have been beating drag us into an escalation of the war to overthrow the Syrian government -- a war which has already cost hundreds of thousands of lives and forced millions of refugees to flee their homes in search of safety for themselves and their families. 
She added, "While the rules of political expediency would say I should have refused to meet with President-elect Trump, I never have and never will play politics with American and Syrian lives."

This is Gabbard's full voting record. I'm too tired to look through it all in detail but it seems consistent with her positions.

Gabbard's campaign website promotes some additional policies such as being against spying on citizens, wanting to "reduce barriers to the ballot box," criminal justice reform like reducing mandatory minimums, being for mandatory GMO labeling, being for a federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, being for net neutrality, taking care of veterans, and wanting to break up big banks and restore the Glass Steagall Act.

Her website also explicitly lists Universal Healthcare as something she believes in, which is better than "Medicare for All" or a single-payer system.

There is also a section on ending the "war on terror" that includes some language like "Islamism" and "jihadist" that's iffy as fuck.

My overall impression is that there are some things to be excited about when it comes to Tulsi Gabbard. It's too bad that she's held back by her homophobic past. Even if I forgive her and decide that her admission of homophobia and ability to change are real and a positive sign, many others will not. Without that, she would be a much more viable and exciting candidate.

Gabbard may actually be one of the most progressive, leftist candidates right now. She campaigned for Bernie Sanders. She is willing to go some places that establishment Democrats will not. She stood up to Obama on some things that deserved to be criticized. I like the fact that she seems pretty much opposite of Democrats like Hillary Clinton when it comes to foreign policy. She may actually be anti-imperialism. I really like the fact that she's for full universal healthcare, not some semi-capitalistic crappier version of it. Free college for most is also great.

I'm worried that she may be Islamophobic and would continue the country's support of the apartheid and genocide in Palestine. She still seems to want to interfere in the Middle East with her plan to "end" the "war on terror" rather than calling that out as an eternal fake war designed to feed the military-industrial complex and steal resources. I would prefer her to be for a "living wage" rather than stopping at $15 per hour, which is not enough in many parts of the country, including where I live. In her voting record, it looks like she voted in favor of at least one of those bills that hurts sex workers under the guise of fighting human trafficking.

It'll be interesting to compare Gabbard to Bernie Sanders. She may be nearly as progressive as he is with the bonus of being a woman of color. She's not perfect but she caught my interest on a few issues. I think I'll give her a B+. She would have gotten an A- if not for the past homophobia thing. If I can end up forgiving that, definitely A-. And I doubt any current candidate will get an A from me.

Next week I'll be looking at Julian Castro. He gets instant bonus points because the idea of a U.S. President named Castro tickles me.

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