International Policy Digest

Orlando Corpuz
Politics /16 May 2017

Meet Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the Surfboarding Iraq War Vet & Possible 2020 Presidential Candidate

In a country void of genuine leadership, the halls of Congress overflowing with corporate puppets, one would not expect to find someone of integrity in elected office, let alone on the national stage. Let me introduce you to Tulsi Gabbard, Democratic Representative from Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. From the time she was a young girl, Tulsi’s entire life has been centered around giving back to her community, her country and the world as a whole.

Tulsi was born on April 12, 1981 in Leloaloa, American Samoa to a large, multicultural family. Her name is that of the holy basil plant in Hinduism. At the age of two, Tulsi’s family moved to Hawaii, where she would spend the rest of her youth, helping out with her family’s two small businesses. As a teenager, Tulsi co-founded an environmental non-profit called the “Healthy Hawai’i Coalition,” which serves to educate children about protecting the environment of Hawaii.

Tulsi’s political career began in 2002 at the age of 21, when she became the youngest elected ever official to the Hawaii state legislature. Her election as a Representative from district 42 in West Ohahu was unprecedented, but she proved to be more than capable of handling the job, earning the respect of her colleagues while serving on the Education, Higher Education, Tourism, and Economic Development committees. She helped to secure funding for infrastructure improvements on the Ewa Plains and served as a constant advocate for the environment, proposing additional tax credits for those who use wind and solar in addition to a variety of other legislation. She served her community for two years before she moved on to the next chapter of her life.

In 2004, Tulsi enlisted in the Hawaii National Guard to serve her state and her country. The next year, her unit was deployed to Iraq. Her attendance was not obligatory, but nevertheless, she left her job as a State Representative to go with her unit, making her the first state official to leave their post to serve overseas. During her first 12-month tour in Iraq, she was a part of the 29th Support Battalion Medical Company and earned the Meritorious Service Medal for her performance.

Upon returning to the States in 2006, Tulsi began working as an aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka. She advised Sen. Akaka on issues such as energy independence, homeland security, the environment, and veteran’s issues. During this time, she also attended the Accelerated Officer Candidate School at the Alabama Military Academy where she became the first woman in the school’s 50-year history to graduate with the highest distinguished honor in her class. In 2009, Tulsi graduated from Hawaii Pacific University with a B.S. in Business Administration. Now a college graduate and an officer in the Hawaii Army National Guard, Tulsi volunteered for a 2nd deployment in Iraq.

During this 12-month deployment, Tulsi served as a Military Police Platoon Leader. In addition to conducting numerous security missions with her platoon, she served as a Primary Trainer for the Kuwait National Guard. She was the first woman to ever set foot inside of a Kuwait military facility and was also the first woman to ever be awarded and honored for her exceptional work in their training and readiness program. She has since been promoted to the rank of Major in the Hawaii Army National Guard and is still a member of the reserve forces.

Upon returning to Hawaii in 2010, Tulsi ran for and was elected to a seat on the Honolulu City Council, where she served as Chair of the Safety, Economic Development, and Government Affairs Committee, as well as the Vice Chair of the Budget Committee. After a successful term, Tulsi began her campaign for an open seat in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional district where she pulled a massive upset in the Democratic Primary, earning 55% of the vote in a 6-way race before going on to win the general election by a margin of 81% to 19%. She is now serving her 3rd term.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in 2013. (AFGE)

During her tenure as a United States Representative, Tulsi has also served as a Vice-Chair at the Democratic National Committee. During the recent Democratic Primaries, Tulsi was highly critical of former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s decision to severely limit the number of debates to 6 after having 25 the previous cycle, and to schedule them outside of prime-time television. Because of this, Tulsi was uninvited to the first debate by the DNC, but was given an invitation by the Bernie Sanders campaign. Several months later, during the heat of the Democratic Primary, Tulsi resigned from her position as Vice-Chair to endorse Bernie Sanders. The DNC’s very own charter states that its members must remain impartial during primaries, which is why Tulsi resigned, but apparently everyone else didn’t get the memo and are now fighting a class action lawsuit because of such. This unprecedented act of courage and bravery to play by the rules and stand up for her beliefs catapulted Tulsi onto the national stage, where she has remained since.

Tulsi campaigned very strongly for Senator Sanders, helping him to win her diverse home state of Hawaii with 69.8% of the vote, proving the establishment myth false that he only appealed to the disenfranchised, white, working class. She gave speeches for him around the country, championing his progressive ideals and his anti-interventionist foreign policy. She emphasized the importance of taking the trillions of dollars we spend on wars and reinvesting them back into the homeland. Being that Tulsi was one of Bernie’s strongest and closest supporters, she was given the honor of nominating him at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia.

One of Tulsi’s primary appeals to voters with many different kinds of beliefs and views is her sense of morality that outweighs her loyalty to the Democratic Establishment, which many have grown to resent. Despite identifying as a Democrat, Tulsi shares numerous similarities with libertarians socially, making her one of the few elected officials on the “libertarian left.” More important than where she falls ideologically, is her commitment to the truth, whether it is comfortable or not. Since the conclusion of the primary, Tulsi has used her newfound popularity to raise awareness on issues such as ending the war in Syria, providing Medicare for All, Exposing Human Trafficking, and Legalizing Marijuana. She was one of, if not the most active member of the house during the recent congressional recess, holding a week-long series of town-halls in Hawaii. She demonstrated her passion and dedication to spreading the spirit of Aloha and changing our country for the better while speaking to overflow crowds that caused her to have to change venues.

After proposing the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R. 608), Tulsi took an unexpected trip to war-torn Syria where she met with citizens from around the country to get firsthand accounts on what was happening, and her findings directly conflict with what the western media is portraying. She shared her findings on how the “moderate rebels,” such as the White Helmets Group that the U.S. funds and praises, are actually radical terrorists affiliated with or directly linked to Al Nusra, an extension of Al Qaeda. Tulsi met with demonized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to talk about achieving peace and stability in Syria once again. She showed that she is not afraid to take risks and to expose the truth, something very few members of Congress have ever had the courage to do. Her experience in Syria motivated her to rightfully question the Idlib gas attacks, which were used to justify Trump’s illegal missile strikes. Through her opposition to the war in Syria and other interventionist wars, Tulsi has solidified herself as one of the best foreign policy experts in the country.

While Tulsi knows her strengths and tries to add to the discussion in her areas of expertise, she has a very solid set of economic policies as well. As a business-school graduate, Tulsi understands the fundamental concepts of responsible spending and progressive taxation, two largely ignored concepts that have lead our country to accumulate nearly $20 trillion in federal debt. As a strong supporter for ending Citizens United and for the restoration of Glass-Steagall, she has a very progressive and aggressive approach to stabilize our economy and loosening the grip on our government by special interests. She places emphasis on lowering taxes on the working class, closing loopholes and raising taxes on the wealthy, and empowering the green energy industry in order to transition our country away from fossil fuels. She was the only member of Congress to attend the #NoDAPL protests in order to protect the environment, and even the economy as pipeline spills have cost the American taxpayer $7 billion over the past two decades. While pushing to enact these policies seen in prosperous countries around the world, Tulsi also supports limiting military spending as we spend more than the next 12 countries combined. By cutting wasteful spending, investing in the working class, and forcing the wealthy to either pay their fair share or invest back into the economy, Tulsi’s policies can not only eliminate our deficit, but create room for improved social policies such as Medicare for All and Universal Child Care which could actually cut costs as well.

Tulsi is a staunch advocate for civil liberties in an increasingly Orwellian society. She has recently been giving speeches on net neutrality and has been a fierce opponent to the Patriot Act and other unwarranted government surveillance programs. In addition to her defense of our privacy, Tulsi has also been fighting against the Drug War to end mass incarceration and legalize Marijuana, which has a plethora of medical benefits. As someone who believes in consumer protections, Tulsi has advocated for the labeling of GMO’s which would allow people to make conscious decisions on what they’re eating, rather than just having the information hidden from them. Not just concerned with government overreach, she has also been a fierce advocate for cracking down on Human Trafficking and helping those who are helpless. Tulsi stands for true individual freedom, not just nationalistic rhetoric like most politicians.

Some smear pieces that have come out about Tulsi have attacked her on her praise for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have called her an Islamophobe, and have even attacked her for daring to question the corporate media’s narrative on Syria. Tulsi is a proud Hindu and she strongly supports Prime Minister Modi and denounces several largely unfounded claims about him. There is no reason she cannot support him and his country, which she has a significant amount of heritage in, even influencing her to have a traditional Hindu wedding. The second claim that has been mentioned quite literally does not make any sense. You cannot be an Islamaphobe when you’re one of a small handful of politicians calling for innocent Muslim lives to be saved in the Middle East. This claim stems from the previously mentioned point as India has tensions with Pakistan, but this is completely out of Tulsi’s area of interest, and from the fact that Tulsi has called for extreme vetting on refugees in order to take more of them in safely. Finally, Screamin’ Howard Dean and other establishment Democrats have called for Tulsi to resign from office for daring to question their narrative. They have met immense backlash and haven’t spoken since, as their claims are completely unfounded.

Despite being only 36 years of age and only serving three terms in the House of Representatives, Tulsi is the strongest potential presidential candidate going into the 2020 election. Given Bernie’s endorsement, she could have a support base that includes, but is not limited to: His former supporters, social libertarians, disenfranchised members of the alt-right, and even Democrats who only vote based on party alignment. With this unique and incredibly powerful coalition of voters, Tulsi could easily be propelled past the Democratic nursing home, past the historically unpopular presidential incumbent, and into the White House. She has the one thing that nearly every candidate lacks – honesty. This lone characteristic would allow her to mop the debate floor with nearly anyone and everyone who may come her way. It also doesn’t hurt that she has political baggage to hold against these politicians who refused to support her bill to stop arming terrorists; it’d be amazing how quickly that headline would be able to destroy a political opponent.

Some will argue that Tulsi is not qualified enough to hold the position of President until she is elected to a higher office such as Governor or Senator, which will be unlikely in 2018 with Tulsi already declining to run for a senate seat against a Democratic incumbent. This criticism does not hold much merit, being that the country elected a reality television star this past election, not to mention that Tulsi has an extensive record of public service in addition to two combat tours and a high rank in the military. Regardless, we should not be determining qualifications by the quantity of experience, but by the quality of experience, which is extremely low for most elected officials.

While it is still speculative on whether Tulsi may or may not choose to run, there is already grassroots support developing for her throughout the country and online in groups such as “Run Tulsi Run.” It is also worthy to note that the corporate media who got caught colluding with the DNC, the institution that Tulsi resigned from, is absolutely terrified of her as they have refused to include her on nearly every speculative list for 2020 presidential candidates, despite the conversation being present in nearly every comment section on these lists and throughout the greater internet. There have been baseless smear pieces popping up in greater frequency as Tulsi builds momentum, but when checked up against facts and logic, they all fall apart.