Election 2020

Why, Exactly, Did the 'Party of Diversity' Exclude Tulsi Gabbard From Its Convention?

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Traditionally, major party conventions invite every presidential candidate who won delegates during the primary to speak. Yet the Democratic Party broke with that convention this week when it refused to even extend an invitation to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii). Perhaps the party feared Tulsi would prove inconvenient for its narrative. She may have revealed Sen. Kamala Harris’s (D-Calif.) tough-on-crime record or attacked former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s foreign interventionism.

“Reminder : [Tulsi Gabbard] was 1 of 7 candidates that earned delegates during the Presidential primary,” Gabbard supporter Keinan Alejo tweeted. “It has been a tradition that spanned decades for any candidate who earned a delegate to be offered a speaking slot at the convention. Tulsi was not invited.”

Gabbard confirmed Alejo’s claim. “You’re correct – I was not invited to participate in any way,” the congresswoman tweeted.

Former candidates in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary featured prominently in the convention. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Andrew Yang, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg all got individual speaking slots.

On Thursday night, Booker introduced seven of the also-ran candidates. “You could think of this sort of like Survivor, on the out-interviews of all the people that got voted off the island,” he said. Yet even in this panel, Tulsi Gabbard was nowhere to be found.

Yet Booker himself did not win a single delegate to the convention, since he dropped out of the race in January before the Iowa caucuses. Seven candidates won delegates: Joe Biden (the nominee), Sanders, Warren, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and … none other than Tulsi Gabbard!

Perhaps the DNC leaders thought it would be too dangerous to have Tulsi speak since the congresswoman famously excoriated Kamala Harris, now the vice presidential candidate, for her record as California attorney general. “She put over 1500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she had ever smoked marijuana,” Gabbard said during one debate. “She blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her” to stop.

Yet Kamala Harris’s record seems remarkably similar to the record of Joe Biden, who bragged that “every major crime bill” had his name on it!

Fox Business contributor Charles V. Payne excoriated the DNC for blocking Tulsi. “How upside down is this world where anyone that launched a war on young Black men got a spot at the convention which ended with deliberate misinterpretation of [Trump’s] Charlottesville comments,” Payne tweeted. “Woke indeed.”

Democrats tout themselves as the party of criminal-justice reform, but they nominated Joe “crime bill” Biden and tough-on-crime Kamala Harris. Then they excluded the woman who rightly took Kamala Harris to task over this record.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump signed the First Step Act and immediately launched an FBI investigation into the death of George Floyd. So which candidate has the better record on criminal justice, again?

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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