The presidential candidacy of Tulsi Gabbard, a Representative from Hawaii, has begun to arouse a lot of interest. In the current climate of sleaze, the Democratic Party is seeking what might be called the “Great Blue Hope”. Gabbard be that, but she may be the neatest thing so far.
Personally I don’t think she is the only choice. Whoever the Green Party nominates for President will be the best chance for peace. But Tulsi is the best Democrat, so she’d be the second best chance for peace; she is the one most likely to actually win the nomination for the Democratic Party.
One of the reasons she garners attention is that she is one to tell it like it is, at least in terms of supporting Russia for finishing the job on terrorists in Syria. This took some political fortitude, especially at a time when Russia bashing is so in vogue.
In fact Tulsi Gabbard went so far as to sponsor a bill known as the “Stop Arming Terrorists Act,” through Congress, which would have meant cutting off aid to the rebels/terrorists fighting Assad. Tulsi even celebrated a win for counterterrorism when Russia began its bombing campaign in Syria. She also accused both Donald Trump and his VP of supporting terrorism in Syria, which undercuts the whole of US foreign policy, including that supported by most Democrats.
This may be why her supporters are not the rank and file Democratic base, but those who are disillusioned with all parties, especially the one in power – the one bringing us never-ending wars and all that its president campaigned against as candidate Trump. Gabbard cites her military service a centerpiece of her campaign, and considers it as the foundation of her platform of “disentangling the US from foreign conflicts.” This makes her broadly acceptable to a range of constituencies, and thus a threat to many Republicans.
Her potential core supporters will likely be dovish Democrats, and those who like none of the above alternatives for the democratic nomination, an ever growing number. Her detractors, especially those in the MSM, take exception to the fact that she has been treated nicely on Russian English language outlets like RT and Sputnik. But are those detractors really saying that she is on the same side as Trump?
Rebel without a corset
Gabbard famously did not like Obama, and had the nerve as a Democrat to speak out openly on national TV about his true colors. She also had the audacity to step down as the Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, DNC, over the “ill-treatment” of Bernie Sanders, and followed this up with an endorsement of him when the vote had already been rigged against him in a multitude of ways by the party establishment.
To add injury to insult, she upsets the status quo by criticising foreign entanglements supported by both political parties, and is good at bashing both Israel and Saudi Arabia for their human rights abuses. Again, this may alienate many Americans, but may draw in as many as it drives away in the right circumstances.
As RT wrote about her, “Gabbard poses a thorny problem for the neo-con-neoliberal axis, as she checks all the boxes, a woman, a veteran – and she has undeniable populist appeal, given her anti-establishment record.”
Loud and Clear
Gabbard is definitely catching it from all sides, which shows that she has a message and an audience wanting to hear a different message. Her message of anti-war is getting wider attention, though not so much, at least initially, from the MSM.
All that has transpired in Syria, including CIA and terrorist involvement, is not by happenstance. Gabbard is not saying anything that is not already known, or as revealed by Jeffrey Sacks of Columbia University, in describing the CIA operation “Timber Sycamore.”
It is clear that a wide range of stakeholders wants her campaign and political ambitions to crash and burn before they even get off the ground, from the above-mentioned detractors to the Israeli lobby. She must be doing something right, due to this “guilt by association,” as those sheep killing dogs with wool between their teeth are shivering when they hear the sound of her voice “or crack of a gun.”
Such enemies must have a BIG campaign chest, as educated people can see from the extent of the negative PR. However, that is where the problem lies.
Gabbard comes across as wanting to end “regime change wars”, and is campaigning heavily on foreign policy issues, including the playing of a New Cold War game with Russia and China. But these are issues that most Americans care little about, as long as they think the economy is booming and they have the opportunity to, or are, living the purported American Dream.
We might remember Jimmy Carter’s tremendous achievement of negotiating the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt. Given the importance of the Jewish lobby in the US, this should have gained him another term as of right. But in the midst of stagflation it had no effect whatsoever on his reelection prospects, and helped bring Ronald Reagan, the man who frequently said “The United States has a big contribution to make to the Third World War”, into office.
A recent interview by Glenn Greenwald sums up Gabbard’s positions well:
Ever since Tulsi Gabbard was first elected to Congress in 2012, she has been assertively independent, heterodox, unpredictable, and polarizing. Viewed at first as a loyal Democrat and guaranteed future star by party leaders — due to her status as an Iraq War veteran, a telegenic and dynamic young woman, and the first Hindu and Samoan American ever elected to Congress — she has instead become a thorn in the side, and frequent critic, of those same party leaders that quickly anointed her as the future face of the party.
Gabbard probably doesn’t want to be compared with one of the least regarded of all US presidents, John Tyler, the man who alienated so many people he ended up without a party. But this is the risk she runs by being within the party on one hand and an outsider on the other: it may be too late before she realises she needs the machine, and can’t offend too many of the cogs in it.
The financial system could crash tomorrow, and then she would stand an even chance to take on Trump. It should have already collapsed,and that is why the wars and arms sales continue. But though it is known that the stock market is a BIG scam, it works nevertheless, at least for now.
Without enough friends in the party, Gabbard has no real chance. There was a time when George McGovern was more in tune with the US public than Richard Nixon. That time soon vanished, largely because Nixon took limited but consistent steps towards public opinion which made McGovern seem too radical by comparison. Gabbard can be outflanked in the same way simply by letting her present her positions, as there is always a more acceptable alternative to Middle America, which makes electors see virtue in running from themselves.
Too good to be true
Consequently I suspect that, unfortunately, we are going to have to deal with Trump for another four years. He could make good on his campaign promises and bring home the troops, stop supporting regimes like Syria and end the New Cold War.
I could live with that … and even tolerate Trump and his ego. That scenario is not something we should hold our breaths over, but it is still possible.
Gabbard is going to have to focus more on domestic issues, such as Medicare for All and pro-choice, especially in light of recent attacks on Roe vs. Wade in various states. Many of her views reflect those of the democratic core, such as the 15 dollar hour minimum wage, universal health care and free community college for qualified students. Consequently she should be cleaning up in Democratic strongholds, but as yet this is not happening.
What she forgets is that her stance against certain kinds of weapons and gun control goes against the current of her potential base of support, and falls right into the hands of Trump. It is not a matter of what is best for America, but what people think is best in maintaining their freedoms and being able to protect themselves, even against the same Federal government that has become so invasive and controlling. Gun control might be a fine idea, but not when the electors can’t figure what they will replace their guns with—electronic voting machines?
It the US it is notoriously hard, impossible, to beat a incumbent, especially in an economy which is perceived as doing well—and given the endurance of so many of the things that Americans hold dear, albeit will not admit to, but got Trump elected in the first place.
Racism and sexism are alive and well, although dressed up in other terms, and Gabbard can expect to be ground down by remorseless attacks on her “positions” which are actually disguised attacks on her ethnicity and gender.
However the final and most important element to consider is that the Democratic Party is a party pitted against itself.
It still wants to blame its debacle in the last election on outside meddling by a foreign power, and still cannot get over the fact that the Muller investigation did not deliver an indictment. For all practical purposes, it cleared the president of all allegations. The investigation itself backfired, and will be used as fuel in defeating a divided Democratic party.
One thing is sure: in the final analysis, either the Democratic party recharges, and consolidates around one platform, or it faces surefire death in the next presidential election, with all the collateral damage in governorships and local partisan elections.
I hope someone is out there listening, loud and clear.
Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.