Tulsi Gabbard is the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump in the general election because she appeals to Independents, Libertarians, Greens and even Trump supporters more than any of the other Democratic candidates.
Here are some excerpts from a recent article about Tulsi Gabbard...
We’re now in the middle of the third and fourth Democratic primary debates—guaranteed blockbuster ratings bonanzas, where pundits of all stripes are temporarily required to give a shit about people like Steve Bullock, Seth Moulton, and John Delaney: hollow suits and campaign-cash sinkholes with exactly zero chance of winning a single delegate.
Gabbard manages to stand out among the grim procession of Michael Bennets. Between consistent anti-war messaging, willingness to buck the party line, and a mildly hypnotic presence, she’s amassed a hardened core of dedicated supporters.
Before last month’s first-round debate, few predicted that she’d walk away with one of the night’s most-discussed performances. After fact-checking Human Ball of Clay Tim Ryan and decisively condemning the American forever-war, she earned a maxed-out contribution from Jack Dorsey and emerged as the most-Googled candidate of the moment.
I had spent that night ensconced in a crowd that came ready to believe, scoping out her supporters at a pro-Tulsi debate watch party. Coordinated by “New Yorkers for Tulsi,” a small cohort of grassroots volunteers, the event drew about a hundred people to The Craic, a cozy Irish bar in Williamsburg. “We just work in parallel with the campaign,” one organizer told me, explaining that the group had gotten together to plan and register the event with Gabbard’s campaign after spending a day with the candidate at a private donor event in early June.
Indeed, I had found the watch party through Gabbard’s official campaign website, which promoted it alongside dozens of others under a “supporter events” tab—but it was also advertised on PresidentTulsiGabbard.org, a portal for “an interconnected group of individuals who seek to actively enlist, encourage and motivate a groundswell of uniquely skilled, self-motivated grassroots activists and organizers” in support of the Hawaii congresswoman. The website is run by California-based activist James Roguski, who helped coordinate the watch party, and who says he speaks with organizers from New Yorkers for Tulsi on a near-daily basis.
Back in Brooklyn, an hour before the June 26 debate, The Craic was humming with giddy anticipation. An organizer dispensed plastic leis, a relaxed selection of tropical button-ups peppered the crowd, and a pack of guests huddled around a corner tray of fruit kebabs—later complimented by roving pans of Hawaiian pizza—as a stream of arrivals stocked the room. Seated in the middle of the bar, a young man laughed with his friends while clutching a ukulele and sporting a white hat with a familiar slogan: “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.”
The guy in the MAGA hat, who asked that I call him “Sam,” told me he was unlikely to vote for any Democrat in 2020, but that he’d come out with a friend who was “obsessed” with Gabbard. I mentioned that I was surprised to find a MAGA hat at a Democratic debate party, and a middle- aged man from Long Island laughed at the sentiment. “I think you’ll find a lot of invisible MAGA hats here,” he said, adding that he was a Trump supporter as well.
Almost everyone I talked to who had come for the watch party described themselves as either a current or a disaffected Trump supporter, and over the course of the night I encountered about as many “invisible MAGA hats” as I did plastic leis. An attendee and self-proclaimed Trump supporter named Kyrie tried to distill Gabbard’s appeal: “She has the most common sense out of most of [the Democrats].”
His friend Chris Ewald, one of the event’s organizers, took a stab. “She’s the strongest anti-war candidate on display,” he said, a “TULSI 2020” shirt leering from behind the lapel of a loose-fitting blazer. “She’s the most vocal candidate speaking against interventionist wars.”
Anti-interventionism has been at the heart of Gabbard’s campaign since day one. An Iraq war veteran, she has long highlighted the human and economic costs of America’s imperial adventures. She was a frequent critic of Obama’s foreign policy, calling on the president to scale back drone use and expedite the withdrawal from Afghanistan as early as her first congressional campaign. “We cannot separate foreign policy from domestic policy,” she said on Fox News more recently, “because we’ve seen how, since 9/11 alone, we’ve spent trillions of dollars on these wasteful regime change wars. That would end under a President Gabbard.”
Listen to Tulsi Gabbard talk about war, and you will hear about wasteful government spending. You will hear about post-traumatic stress disorder, the VA’s failures, and the tolls extracted from the bodies of American soldiers. You will hear about the cost of our bombs, and how they help to sow the seeds of terrorism around the world.
To be fair, I encountered at least one former Bernie supporter among the Trumpian majority. An aging anti- money-laundering compliance officer, he talked to me about Chomsky and socialist internationalism, positioning himself to the left of America’s fledgling progressive movement.
It’s true that Gabbard has found well-intentioned support from some on the left. Weekend at Bernie’s-style candidate Mike Gravel, for example—whose teenage campaign-runners have pushed proposals to decriminalize sex work and cut military spending in half, among others—named her alongside Bernie as one of the Democratic contenders most likely to earn his eventual endorsement. And James Roguski, the grassroots Gabbard organizer... told me he’d done similar work promoting Bernie in 2016. But her most visible support has decidedly come from the other direction. Her debate performance won accolades from... Tucker Carlson, Mike Cernovich, Jack Posobiec, and Paul Joseph Watson, and she dominated a post-debate Drudge Report poll by a 3-to-1 margin (with some help from trolls on 4chan and Reddit), speaking to Breitbart about it almost immediately afterwards.
During the debate, someone on /pol/—4chan’s “Politically Incorrect” discussion board... commented that “Tulsi Gabbard is the only person on that stage with a soul.”
Departing the debate party, I ran into “Sam” outside the bar—the lonely MAGA hat in a sea of invisible comrades. This time he was with his “Tulsi-obsessed” buddy, a stocky young man in a Lacoste polo who asked to go by “Tom.”
When asked if he used to be a Trump supporter, he told me,“I was, but now I’m on the fence, the big beautiful fence. . . . If its Trump vs. Tulsi, I’m voting Tulsi. If its Trump vs. any of these other whack jobs, I’m voting Trump.”
Tom expressed hope that Gabbard would come around to his perspective on issues like border security— he wants a wall—and “free speech on the internet”—he and Sam agree that platforms like Facebook and Twitter are silencing “mostly conservative voices”—but was largely impressed by what he described as Gabbard’s “tactical silence,” interpreting her unwillingness to engage certain issues as a wink to his corner. “Everyone else has in some way or another done some kind of pandering,” he said of the Democratic field. She’s not going to get wrapped up in identity politics.”
In conversation, the New Yorkers for Tulsi organizers framed themselves as independent progressives; egalitarians, wary of party dogma, who saw Gabbard’s right-wing appeal as a boon for her chances against Trump. Later, one of them remarked to me that they’d been surprised by the significant pro-Trump turnout at their party.
New Yorkers for Tulsi is holding another debate watch party tonight, this time at Tara Rose in Manhattan. She’s likely to make progressive overtures, and to position herself as the lone pacifist on stage. It is true that the Democratic Party is depressingly thin on marginally palpable foreign policy positions, and that, with the DNC’s blackballing of Mike Gravel, she will likely be the most anti-war candidate on display this evening.
Many thanks to Evan Malmgren for his recent article in the Baffler.