Thoughts on Tulsi Gabbard saying aloha to the Democratic Party

On Tuesday, Tulsi Gabbard bid aloha to the Democratic Party, an organization she referred to as an “elitist cabal of warmongers driven by cowardly wokeness, who divide us by racializing every issue and stoke anti-white racism” and “actively work to undermine our God-given freedoms that are enshrined in our constitution.”

With this much scorn directed at her former fellow travelers, there’s speculation that she may join the GOP. But Tulsi is no Whittaker Chambers. She has not seen the light. What she is doing is attacking her party from the left on the economic and foreign-policy fronts. But you don’t have to be on “Team Raytheon” to realize this.

Before talking heads like Tucker Carlson start calling for the GOP to welcome her with open arms, it’s worth looking back on where Gabbard has stood on the issues important to conservatives. 

There was a flurry of enthusiasm in various quarters of the right at the announcement by Gabbard that she was leaving the Democratic Party. Republicans and conservatives eager to embrace Gabbard have a mixture of three motives:

A natural instinct to embrace converts who criticize their old party and might bring with them people who feel the same way;

Personal enthusiasm for a woman who is attractive, telegenic, and (as we saw with her 2019 debate-stage ambush of Kamala Harris) ruthlessly aggressive in argument; 

A desire to prosecute an argument within the Republican Party for a foreign policy that is anti-interventionist and more congenial to alliances with tyrants.

The first of these, at least, is reasonable, but it should be tempered; despite her distaste for wokeism, Gabbard remains a progressive in good standing on a great many economic and social issues. I cannot think of a Republican over whom she would be an improvement, at least in terms of positions on issues.

If Gabbard is actually inclined to go the next step and become a Republican — or a Republican-aligned independent — much depends upon the uses to which she puts her talents. If she were to run for office again in Hawaii, even the possibility of winning elections that are typically closed to the GOP would be worth making some common cause with her. Surely, Gabbard as an independent in the Senate, for example, would be an improvement on Mazie Hirono. 

But all too often, what some sections of the right prefer is to make Gabbard a national figure speaking at CPAC and on Fox News, taking up places better filled by actual conservatives, or — worse yet — encouraging her to run as a third-party candidate in a race Republicans might stand a chance of winning without her. No thanks.

I feel it’s necessary to run through the areas where social conservatives and paleocons — not just those dastardly neocons and libertarians — might find her views anathematic to their belief system.

For starters, Gabbard supports legal abortion through the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. While she is certainly to the right of most Democrats, she is considerably left of where most Republicans are on this issue. Gabbard also supports the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes, a position most traditional conservatives would find offensive. On Second Amendment issues, she has an F rating from the NRA and a zero percent rating from the Hawaii Rifle Association. In 2019, she voted in favor of the Equality Act and has even voiced support for decriminalizing prostitution.

While Gabbard has undoubtedly changed her tune on some of these issues in recent years, her head-spinning flip-flops, especially before and after her absurdist presidential candidacy, suggest that she is an incredibly cynical and disingenuous political figure. She could easily turn back the other way if the political winds shift.

Putting aside her odious rendezvous with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, and her ties to a secretive cult, it’s clear that even a non-regime-change clamoring, warmongering, market-fundamentalist neoliberal can dislike Tulsi. When the conservatives infatuated with her will extricate themselves from her deceit remains to be seen.

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