Tulsi Gabbard, the democratic representative to Hawaii’s 2nd District since 2013, caught headlines when she declared her bid for the presidency early in the game. Gabbard was the first Hindu member of Congress and became the youngest person ever elected to the Hawai’i State Legislature. She not only served on the Honolulu City Council, but she’s also a veteran of the Iraq war. Tulsi Gabbard is a self-described progressive candidate, who quite often sides with conservatives and even dictators, on many issues.
Gabbard’s take on Syria is consistently troubling. She lamented that the United States doesn’t drop enough bombs in Syria. Gabbard is a strong supporter of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who uses chemical weapons against civilians, bears responsibility for the killing of 94% of civilians who have died in Syria since 2011 (this was as of 2017, this number has actually greatly increased as the civilian death toll reaches the millions), and routinely executes dissenters (these murders are documented in a Nazi-like fashion). Gabbard claimed she is invested in “peace” in Syria, but deemed the US-backed rebels as “terrorists.” Gabbard met with Assad without informing Democrats and says that she does not regret meeting with him.
Gabbard is a supporter of General Abdel Fattah el Sisi, the Egyptian dictator, and thinks he “has shown great courage and leadership in taking on this extreme Islamist ideology.” Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been dubbed murderous as he jails Muslims, journalists, and women. He uses extreme military action, suppressive tactics, and mass detention. Tulsi Gabbard’s support of dangerous and murderous dictators is extremely concerning.
Gabbard has close ties to the far-right, anti-Muslim, prime minister of India — Narendra Modi. Modi was formerly banned from entering the United States for his role in the Gujarat massacres, and even Modi threatened to evict Muslims from “Hindu areas”. Modi’s party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), created a crisis amongst the public by claiming that Muslims and low-caste Hindus were not respecting cows, and mobs began to attack and lynch Muslims and low-caste Hindus for consuming beef, despite their lack of evidence. Gabbard has also received many donations from Modi supporters. In fact, an Indian newspaper called “The Telegraph” dubbed her as the “mascot” of the Sangh Parivar. The Sangh Parivar is a far-right Hindu nationalist organization that works to drive out all other religions and create a homogeneously Hindu country by any means necessary (including violence).
Tulsi Gabbard has stood against the LGBTQ+ community innumerable times. With policies, statements, and even positions she has held, Gabbard is decidedly not an ally to or an advocate of the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, Gabbard’s own father was the proprietary leader of an anti-LGBTQ+ organization, and she has worked closely with him in the past. In 2002 she stated, “Working with my father, Mike Gabbard, and others to pass a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage, I learned that real leaders are willing to make personal sacrifices for the common good.”
Gabbard has often cited the work she has done at her father’s organization, despite the fact that the organization called homosexuality “unhealthy, abnormal behavior that should not be promoted or accepted in society.” Gabbard has apologized for her previous stances. Her father no longer works at “Alliance for Traditional Marriage” and has stopped running “Stop Promoting Homosexuality America” along with his previous anti-gay radio show called “Let’s Talk Straight Hawaii.”
The far right has long considered Tulsi Gabbard their sweetheart on the other side. Gabbard has also been endorsed and praised by former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), David Duke; white supremacist Richard Spencer; alt-right internet personality and conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec; and alt-right figure and former Trump chief strategist, Steve Bannon. Gabbard has rebuked Duke’s support, but nonetheless, the fact that these figures feel seen in her policies and actions is concerning enough. Over the course of Obama’s presidency, Gabbard spent a great deal of her time on FOX News. She supported Republican efforts to slander Islam and stated, “It’s actually a theological, this radical Islamic ideology.”
Furthermore, Gabbard voted to block refugees from Syria and Iraq from entering the United States and demanded that non-Muslim refugees from the Middle East be given priority immigration status. These policies and stances make Gabbard a good pick for far-right supporters rather than one for the progressive base she is attempting to attract.
Tulsi Gabbard has no concern for the good of her party, doesn’t support progressive policies, and is aligned with dangerous and militaristic leaders and pundits. Tulsi Gabbard’s self-contradicting stances and disturbing allies make her an unlikely win from democratic voters. Tulsi Gabbard currently polls at 2%.