Former Hawaii Congresswoman and 2020 presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard has left the Democratic Party, saying that it has been taken over by an “elitist cabal of warmongers” who are “dragging us ever closer to nuclear war.”
On her podcast on October 11, Gabbard recalled that, when she decided to run for the Hawaii State House in 2002 at the age of 21 and had to select a party affiliation, she settled on the Democrats because she was inspired by figures like Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy, and by Democrats who opposed the Vietnam War and stood up for workers in Hawaii who were being exploited by large landowners.
The GOP by contrast appeared to her to stand for the interests of big business and the warmongering elite.
But today, Gabbard said, the Democrats are in the thrall of the military-industrial complex and use liberal rhetoric to support wars of aggression. They have pushed the world to the precipice of World War III and “don’t care who pays the price.”
The war in Ukraine, according to Gabbard was “not provoked by Vladimir Putin, but by the United States and some European nations in NATO that are using the Ukrainian military and people as chess pieces with the aim of regime change in Russia.”
The military-industrial complex is happy to send all those weapons to Ukraine, but, she asked, “if we vote to send these billions of dollars to Ukraine, is that strengthening our national security or undermining it?”
Gabbard said that she ran for president in 2020 because “she saw where we were headed.” She raised the danger of a potential nuclear holocaust in her campaign and on the national debate stage as a result of bellicose U.S. policies, but the “dominant politicians and media ignored her message and didn’t care—then or now.”
In an interview with Jesse Waters on Fox News, Gabbard noted that not one member of Congress on the left has opposed the war in Ukraine. “Where are the so-called progressives?” she asked. “Where are the peace champions, the AOCs, the Bernies, all the people who claim to be representing this movement? They’re absolutely silent, and they are the ones leading us into nuclear war.”
After making her announcement about leaving the Democratic Party, old smears were predictably revived about Gabbard’s “coziness with Syrian president and alleged war criminal Bashar al-Assad” (Max Burns, NBC News) and being “pro-Putin.” (Bill Kristol).
According to Gabbard, whereas the Democrats once stood for civil liberties, today’s Democrats advance censorship under the guise of a campaign for “fighting misinformation”—which allows the government to cancel out its critics.
Gabbars suggests that the Biden administration has also a) prosecuted conservative groups like anti-abortion activists who have a right to protest, b) demonized and pushed for defunding the police who are needed in communities, c) divided Americans by racializing almost every issue, d) labeled as terrorists parents who questioned changes to their children’s curriculum; and e) forgotten that the U.S. Constitution stands for freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.
Gabbard clearly stands on the conservative side of the culture wars, adopting positions with which many on the left do not agree—though might consider.
However, she is right on the mark in her critique of the Democrats’ acquiescence to the military-industrial complex and advancement of dangerous foreign policies that threaten nuclear war.
The question is when will more self-styled progressives follow Gabbard’s lead and defect from a party that is as beholden to the oligarchic elite and national security complex as the Republicans?
And when will more Democrats speak out against the adoption of neo-McCarthyite tactics to silence critics—not just of the government’s Russia and China policies, but also its corrupted response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gabbard filed a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton who had said that Russia was “grooming Gabbard [who served in the U.S. military] to be a third party candidate” and that Gabbard was a “favorite of the Russians.” Kamala Harris’ campaign meanwhile suggested that Russia was behind Gabbard’s scathing critique of Harris’ record as a prosecutor during one of the 2020 Democratic Party primary debates. ↑
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About the Author
Jeremy Kuzmarov is Managing Editor of CovertAction Magazine.
He is the author of five books on U.S. foreign policy, including Obama’s Unending Wars (Clarity Press, 2019), The Russians Are Coming, Again, with John Marciano (Monthly Review Press, 2018), and Warmonger. How Clinton’s Malign Foreign Policy Launched the U.S. Trajectory From Bush II to Biden (Clarity Press, 2023).
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