Why does the Democratic Party establishment dislike Tulsi Gabbard?

Tulsi Gabbard

Tulsi Gabbard (37) is the US Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district. A Major in the Hawaii Army National Guard and running for president of the United States as a Democratic candidate. But for some reason, both the media and the Democratic Party (DNC) is not taken by her. Some believe that there is an active campaign inside the DNC to ignore and de-platform her candidacy – recently by not letting her into the next Democratic debates.

According to the criteria that the DNC set forth, 2020 candidates must meet the donor threshold of 130,000 unique donors and 2 percent in 4 DNC qualified polls. Gabbard has exceeded the donor threshold but needs two polls to meet the debate criteria. The Gabbard team is citing what they describe as several irregularities in the selection and timing of the DNC sponsored polls. The campaign points out Gabbard has exceeded 2% support in 26 polls, but only two of them are on the DNC’s “certified” list. The Gabbard campaign has asked the DNC to revise debate qualifications over polling “irregularities.”

Clearly, the DNC has it in for Gabbard. So why does the Democratic Party establishment dislike Tulsi Gabbard so much? Conventional thinking breaks it down into three reasons:

(1) Gabbard is not a DNC team player: Gabbard was not (and is not) a lock-step Democrat partisan. In 2015, she openly disagreed with the Obama administration’s reluctance to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” to describe the War on Terror’s primary adversary. According to Gabbard, you cannot fight the enemy if you don’t understand their motivation. To ignore the role of radical Islamic theology (Wahhabism) in terrorism is to misunderstand the problem altogether.

During the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination race, she resigned from the DNC and endorsed Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton. Among one of the first super-delegates to break free from the Clinton orbit, Gabbard again became the poster child for Democratic Party division.

(2) Gabbard has an anti-war stance and a vocal critique of the military-industrial complex. Gabbard has been stridently anti-interventionist and believes the U.S. should withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Syria. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi removed Gabbard from the House Foreign Affairs Committee at the start of the 116th U.S. Congress. Though she voted for 19 of 29 military spending bills in the past six years, she is a vocal critic of the military-industrial complex.

(3) Gabbard is not Progressive enough. When looking at her Progressive stance, for sure she is further left than Republicans, but to the right of many of her competitors. In the current Democratic environment, this is political suicide. But this is not a snub of the DNC – they are not necessarily Progressive.

Just how anti-war is Gabbard? Her current rhetoric does not always match her past foreign policy statements. Gabbard stopped taking money from the defense industry. As the HuffPost reported, between 2012 and 2016 Gabbard accepted over $100,000 from the defense industry from the likes of BAE Systems, Raytheon, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin. In fact, via HuffPost, both Lockheed Martin and Boeing were two of her largest donors during the 2016 cycle.

Overall, Peace Action, an activist group, which works to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons and use diplomacy to resolve international conflicts and to create a more peaceful world, gave Gabbard a lifetime score of just 51%, otherwise known as a D-. Gabbard continues to support the use of drone strikes around the world and continues to support the War on Terror. By using the Obama trick of moving from ground troop wars to drone wars, Gabbard has been able to sell herself as an anti-war peace candidate.

The DNC is playing a bit of a dangerous game. If they snub Gabbard, it could energize her base and have the opposite effect in trying to kill off her candidacy. They would fall prey to the Streisand Effect. News Forecasters supposes that the DNC will come to this understanding, and let Gabbard into the next debates – let her die a slow political death. If not, watch out.

News Forecasters believes it is mostly reason (1), from above. Gabbard is an outsider wanting to rock the boat. Many of the DNC insiders are simply worried about their own job positions. Being not Progressive enough, the DNC is happy to let them devour her. So what can Gabbard do?

Gabbard has a fairly deliberate, thoughtful and professional delivery style and approach – not Trumpian or like AOCbrash and bombastic. From a policy perspective perhaps, but not style – people respond on an emotive basis in politics. Trump took the GOP and changed it, much to the Republican insiders dislike (e.g the Never Trumpers). Can Gabbard do that? If Gabbard wants to be president, this is what she will have to do. News Forecasters’ take is that she can’t be that person and won’t. But she is still young, people can evolve and political environments change.

As a reminder, please note that News Forecasters takes no position on Tulsi Gabbard’s presidential candidacy.

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