On Friday, January 11, Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) announced on CNN that she would run for president in 2020. Her formal declaration is expected within the coming week.
Considered a young, rising star in the Democratic party, on paper, Gabbard seems like the perfect candidate to combat the surge of right-wing populism in the United States. Supported by Bernie Sanders and the “progressive left,” Gabbard has been an ardent supporter of expanding Medicare, believes in the seriousness of climate change, supports ending prohibitions on marijuana, and advocates for change on Wall Street.
However, a look into Gabbard’s past actions, ties, and statements reveal a much darker side to her politics. This includes her connections to the U.S. conservative bloc, views on US foreign policy, friendly relationship with various dictators, and Islamophobia.
Gabbard has been endorsed by Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former White House Chief Strategist, white nationalist Richard Spencer, and former KKK Imperial Wizard and white nationalist David Duke. She was also the first Democrat to meet with the president after his 2016 win, and was even under consideration for a position in his administration.
Gabbard’s admiration for various dictators has revealed her to be a genocide denier, war apologist, and Islamophobe.In January 2018, Gabbard met with Syrian war criminal and president Bashar al-Assad on a trip funded by the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS – Ohio). The organization’s leadership is linked to the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), which supports the Assad regime.
Gabbard has made frequent statements opposing U.S. involvement in “regime change” in Syria, and has questioned claims about Assad’s use of chemical warfare. In 2015, she tweeted her support for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy in Syria.
Gabbard has also turned a blind eye to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments and actions towards Muslims in his country, calling his leadership inspirational. Modi has been accused of inciting the 2002 Gujarat riots, which left one thousand people dead, including 800 Muslim.
In November 2015, Gabbard met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to discuss the threat of extremist groups and strengthen the U.S.-Egyptian military relationship. During the meeting, she praised Sisi’s courage and leadership in Egypt’s fight against the Islamist insurgency in the Sinai. Sisi has been widely accused of flagrant human rights abuses since taking office in 2013.
On the American front, Gabbard voted in favor of a bill in 2015 that called for greater restrictions on refugees from Syria and Iraq entering the United States. Before that, she introduced a bill that would have suspended the visa waiver program for countries with citizens that have joined Islamic extremist groups. Since 2014, she has been on an anti-Islam media tirade and, in typical Trump-style, criticized the Obama administration for avoiding the phrase “Islamic terrorism.”
Tulsi Gabbard presents herself as a viable, progressive, and refreshing alternative to the hardcore, conservative rhetoric of the current administration. In many ways, though, her policies are Trump’s policies.