By Anna Timmer
During the primary season of the 2016 election and beyond, the rise of Donald Trump was ushered in by hardworking citizens of every political stripe embracing the populist message of making America great. As that coalition of broad support swelled, conservatives, libertarians and establishment Republicans mostly rallied around Trump’s reshaping of the party back into one that served the people and defied the swamp-filled status quo.
The Democratic Party has, so far, taken the opposite approach for the 2020 primary election, choosing instead to rally in lockstep around unpopular far-left positions such as late-term (and even post-birth) abortion, massive socialist programs, open borders and welfare for illegal immigrants.
To many, U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard appears as one of the lone outliers in the line-up, promoting a heavy anti-war message and adopting parts of the America First rhetoric from Trump’s successful campaign, moves that have endeared her to certain factions of libertarianism, paleo-conservatism, and some independents.
There is no mystery surrounding her growing popularity, especially considering her eager willingness to sit down with conservative interviewers like Tucker Carlson and Dave Rubin where her non-interventionist views and fight against Big Tech are frequently spotlighted. When contrasted against a mostly weak and extremist primary field, the mix of political rhetoric that helped Trump win over independents in 2016 together with Gabbard’s compelling personality and habit of dressing down swamp-entrenched political foes makes a powerful statement. But does the Tulsi platform truly diverge from that of the socialism-pushing Neo-Marxists she’s running against?
Although her overall poll numbers lag behind top-tier candidates in the Democratic field, she has publicly declined to run for re-election to her seat in Congress, signaling her commitment to her Presidential campaign. Her supporters are loyal and energetic and see her as the moderate alternative to the rest of the candidates. But Gabbard is undeniably progressive, with many of her positions like free college, $15 federal minimum wage and Medicare for All taking a harder left turn than the average Democratic voter.
In 2016 Gabbard endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for President, an endorsement made all the more profound because she resigned from the DNC in order to do so. Sanders self-identifies as a Democratic Socialist, making him among the farthest left members of Congress, and Gabbard not only heartily endorsed his 2016 run, but has adopted many of his progressive positions as well.
Tulsi on Social Issues
In May of 2019, Gabbard voted for H.R. 5, otherwise known as The Equality Act, legislation that takes sharp aim at religious freedom and the First Amendment, mandating that business owners conform to the affirmation of LGBT wedding ceremonies and the use of transgender pronouns, or risk losing their business. Parental rights could be threatened if they refuse consent to puberty-blocking hormone treatments, as in the case of James Younger. Medical professionals, hospitals and insurance companies could be forced to perform, accommodate and pay for transgender surgeries and puberty blocking treatments, even on young children. Public facilities and private charities or organizations with female-only spaces like restrooms, locker rooms and shelters could be mandated to be gender neutral or to accommodate transgender individuals, giving access to predators and putting women and girls at greater risk of harm and sexual assault.
No supporter of free speech, individual and parental rights or true advocate for women could support such legislation, yet Tulsi Gabbard has already done so.
She has further cemented her anti-religious freedom stance by co-sponsoring the Do No Harm Act that seeks to roll back the protections of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993 that restricts the government from substantially burdening the free exercise of religion without a compelling government interest. The vague language of the Do No Harm Act creates a significant government intrusion when it restricts that free exercise to only such cases that are not perceived to cause “dignitary harm” to a third party. Gabbard is not typically questioned on the conservative interview circuit about her support of these deeply progressive, troublingly statist positions.
Tulsi on Climate Change
While appearing on ABC’s “The View,” Gabbard noted that she first got into politics as an environmentalist, and has made climate change a central part of her political platform ever since.
While many on both the right and left hail Tulsi’s strong push to end wasteful spending on military interventionism, often missed is the candidate’s plan for that savings. Far from conservative measures like tax cuts or reducing the national debt, Tulsi notes she would shift those military funds to domestic socialist programs she fervently endorses, like universal healthcare and “fighting climate change.”
She also joined in the Dakota pipeline protests and has endorsed one of the most aggressive climate plans in Congress. The OFF Fuels for a Better Future Act mandates a total end to the use of fossil fuels for electricity by 2050 and all vehicle emissions by 2035.
Gabbard also supports rejoining the globalist Paris Accords, noting in a press release that the U.S. should be “leading by example,” in investing in clean energy. This is a common theme among progressive Democrats, advocating for the U.S. to take the largest economic hits on the global stage in the name of climate change, but it is certainly antithetical to an America First platform.
While her politically independent supporters often tout her love of America, it simply does not hold that you can marry a professed love of country with a desire to grow its government so large it enslaves its citizenry.
Whether Tulsi Gabbard chooses to shake up the 2020 landscape by pulling off a massive primary upset, run as a third party candidate or seek the highest office once again in 2024, her progressive, socialist values should come out of the shadows and feature front and center in the debate.
Anna Timmer is a Michigan-based writer, business owner, political activist and host of the “Called to Liberty” podcast.