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Hear Me Out: Let's Give Tulsi Gabbard a Warm (But Cautious) Aloha

AP Photo/Marco Garcia

This week, much to the delight of many Republicans, former U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard announced she was leaving the Democratic Party. While Gabbard accused the party leadership of “cowardly wokeness, anti-white racism, [being] hostile to people of faith and spirituality, and dragging us closer to nuclear war,” I don’t believe Republicans should go all-in on Gabbard just yet.

Nowhere in her announcement or subsequent interviews (that I’m aware of) has she claimed she left the Democratic Party to join the Republican Party. She does, however, repeatedly state that she invites independent-minded Democrats to join her. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we shouldn’t welcome her to The Dark Side. After all, it was Ronald Reagan who taught us that “the person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally — not a 20 percent traitor.” We should definitely welcome our 80-percent friends — BUT — and this is a big but, we should make sure they actually are at least 80 percent friendly, especially where it counts.

What I am saying is that we on the Right, particularly those of us who are conservatives, should slow our roll with her a little bit. Yes, she purports to have left the Democratic Party — and that’s a good thing — but that in no way means she’s a conservative 80-percent friend or that she’s left her destructive progressive ideals behind. Her silence and her invitation to other “independent-minded Democrats” to join her as she walks away, leads one to believe she will most likely now have an “I” after her name, not an “R.” If Gabbard were going to add an “R” to the end of her name, she would’ve said so by now.

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So where exactly does Gabbard stand on key issues? Here’s a list (not-at-all exhaustive) of positions I’ve gleaned from her statements, social media accounts, and her political record in Hawaii and the U.S. House of Representatives:

  • Abortion: “Gabbard told [Dave] Rubin she views abortion in a ‘libertarian’ way, saying she doesn’t think government should be dictating women’s choices. ‘I think that there should be some restrictions though,’ she added. Rubin asked if she had a ‘cutoff point,’ to which she replied: ‘I think the third trimester. Unless a woman’s life or severe health consequences is at risk, then there shouldn’t be an abortion in the third trimester.’”
  • Climate Change: “I support the carbon neutrality goals of the Green New Deal and the awareness it has brought across the country on the critical issues of energy independence and the climate crisis, however, I do not support ‘leaving the door open’ to nuclear power unless and until there is a permanent solution to the problem of nuclear waste.”
  • Drugs: As a presidential candidate, Gabbard said she would “end the failed war on drugs, legalize marijuana, end cash bail, and ban private prisons.” She champions the socialist country of Portugal as a model for decriminalizing drugs.
  • Education: “Gabbard co-sponsored the College for All Act, which would make four-year college free for middle-class and lower-income families and community college free for all students, and would lower student loan interest rates.”

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  • Free Speech: Gabbard believes all Americans have a right “to express their views, even when we disagree with them.” She claims that “discussion is at the heart of our democracy,” even though America is a constitutional republic. No word on her stance on so-called “hate speech.”
  • Gender: Gabbard stands on the side of female athletes in the transgender fight. As a state senator in Hawaii, she led opposition to same-sex marriage laws and supported the proposed federal Marriage Protection Act.
  • Government: In her announcement to leave the Democratic Party, she said, “I believe in a government that is of, by, and for the people. Unfortunately, today’s Democratic Party does not. Instead, it stands for a government of, by, and for the powerful elite.” As a Honolulu City Council member, she championed a measure that authorized the city to confiscate personal belongings stored on public property. Civil liberties, anyone?
  • Guns: As a combat veteran, she is well-trained and comfortable with firearms and is not afraid to be seen shooting one. She claims to support concealed carry laws and the Second Amendment, but she co-sponsored the “Assault Weapons” Ban of 2019.
  • Healthcare: “I support a single-payer system that will allow individuals to access private insurance if they choose.” She co-sponsored the Medicare For All Act, which effectively eliminated private insurance.
  • Immigration: “We can and should have both secure borders as well as humane immigration policies.” She supports DACA.
  • Socialism: She served three years of a four-year term as the vice chair of the Democratic National Committee before resigning in 2016 to endorse self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for U.S. president. Is Sanders the kind of political Independent she aspires to be?
  • Voting: Gabbard supports reforming the electoral college or exploring the Proportional Plan but doesn’t want to eliminate it.”
  • Military Policy: She is a self-proclaimed “hawk” on terrorism and a “dove” or staunch critic of U.S. military interventionism. She co-authored the No More Presidential Wars Act, which reclaimed “the responsibility Congress has to be the body that declares war, to end these presidential wars that are being fought without the authorization of Congress.”

See what I mean? Gabbard isn’t conservative by any stretch of the imagination. If she were to join the “Rs,” she could end up being the new Romney or McCain type. Too many of this ilk inside the big tent and we could easily end up like the Dems, having our party taken over by squishes — or worse — progressives in disguise.

Is she an 80-percent friend? That remains to be seen. This week Gabbard did stump for some GOPers on the campaign trail. That’s certainly good news, however, like any serious party, there should be a proving period for those who wish to join—a time when we watch actions and test convictions to make certain she’s true and not a beautiful Trojan horse designed to deceive and ultimately destroy.

So for now, I say, “Aloha, Tulsi,” but we should remember that that word can also mean “goodbye.”

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