[Author’s Note: this piece was initially penned the day of Tulsi Gabbard’s candidacy announcement; however, if anything, the last few weeks have rendered the perspective contained therein even more relevant, in the face of ongoing and escalating attacks upon Gabbard from media, Republicans, and Democrats, alike]
I’ve seen a few strange things this morning; but one of the more peculiar has to be the Republican Party attacking Tulsi Gabbard’s just-announced Presidential candidacy, on grounds that “Progressives have blasted her”.
I’ll say that again: the Republicans appear to be attacking Gabbard for allegedly not being popular enough with “Progressives”.
Like … wut? Ordinarily, scare-mongering about a candidate running for the other party’s Presidential nomination at this stage in the (pre-)campaign, is a matter of attempting to whip up your own party’s supporters in paroxysms of terror about the politics of this or that potential nominee.
Now you could probably suggest that the GoP also attacking her for “Resign[ing] from the DNC to support Bernie Sanders”, is an example of that. Something something “she’s a creeping socialist infiltrator” something something. [Although I suspect that line of attack’s going to backfire – partially due to cross-over support for economic populism between the Sanders-sectorial of American politics, and many people who voted for Trump [c.f Steve Bannon’s remarks on the issue]; but largely also because people remember the narrative of the DNC having “rigged” the contest for Clinton in order to keep Sanders out. Statements that Gabbard left the DNC over this, therefore, just make it seem like a) she has Principles [over craven power-pursuit]; and b) they’re Principles that people, including GoP working class people, will like].
But when you get right down to it, there’s no way that the Republicans’ statement about Gabbard being anathema to and routinely attacked by “Progressives”, even if it were significantly true, is geared towards the Republicans’ own voters.
I mean, how could it be? “DON’T VOTE FOR HER! SHE’S SECRETLY A CONSERVATIVE, MAYBE?” Yeah, nah. Doesn’t work.
What it is, however, is quite clearly a message intended for Democrat Primary participants, who’ll get to have their say [assuming, you know, the Primary process is fair, rather than a carefully co-ordinated Coronation] over the next year and a half or so on whether or not Gabbard gets the nod. And with the very explicit objective of discouraging them from supporting her.
Now why might that be.
Clearly, it is because the Republicans are most afraid of Gabbard.
Hence, they shall continue to do everything in their power to try and de-legitimate and pre-emptively bump-off Gabbard’s candidacy, before it’s even out of the starting blocks.
Because they know all too well that the potent mix of a sensible foreign policy and a genuinely for-the-people economic platform – is an absolute winner (even despite any amount of media-mouthpiece shrieking to the contrary). And, more to the point, that it’s what a not insignificant proportion of those who cast their ballots for Trump in 2016 thought they were voting for, only to find themselves bitterly disappointed two to three years in, when the Hope And Change with Red Hat Characteristics, turned out to be More Of The Same – But On Twitter.
And, of course, because the GoP also know that many of the usual attack-lines they’d field against most other Democrat leading personalities simply won’t work on Gabbard. After all, it’s pretty difficult to accuse a relatively recent military veteran (who, indeed, left her political role in order to serve her country abroad) of being an unpatriotic, craven Beltway careerist. Or, for that matter, somebody who resigned from the DNC in protest at perceived Clintonite skulduggery, of being some sort of front for a “Clintonite agenda”. Or, indeed, an ardently pious and well respected figure within our religion as being some sort of “Godless Cultural Marxist Communist” or whatever.
Having said that, it will be interesting to see how the religion angle plays out; as sadly,i wouldn’t put it past Republicans (and even a few Democrats) to basically attempt to attack her for being a) of a religious minority [in the US], b) brown [and probably c) Hawaiian by state].
In any case, while I’m not in the business of simply urging people to do something largely if not entirely because somebody we don’t like is opposed to it …
… as applies the Tulsi Gabbard 2020 candidacy, I am reminded of a Murray Ball political cartoon published here in New Zealand at the height of the electoral reform debate in the early 1990s.
Namely – that looking at who’s opposed to Gabbard, and why : is a pretty great gateway to starting to understand why she should, nay, must be given a fair chance to run.
She stands alone, in terms of character and characteristics, policy and political personhood, that is true.
And in so doing, casts all the rest of the field, entire, in such harsh relief and shade.