By Contributing Writer Abigail Field
It may delight readers who longingly wish to return to early 1950s America that at least one aspect of the time has reared its head. One might remember more likely, from vague recollections of middle school than personal experience, the Second Red Scare, and, of course, McCarthyism. McCarthyism refers to the practice of making accusations of treason or subversion without regard for evidence, often as it relates to Russia specifically. Now I’m not referring to the debacle with President Trump, Ukraine, Russian interference, etc, as there is ample evidence of collusion and the like, and so therefore McCarthyism would not apply.
Nay, instead I am referring to the incredibly bizarre smears against veteran, Congresswoman, and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard. More bizarre still are the people from whom the smears are oozing.
Gabbard is a democrat who supports a national healthcare insurance program, a Green New Deal (though insisting that the vague language in the legislation be amended), prison reform, marijuana legalization, is on the House LGBT equality caucus, attended and protested against the Dakota Access Pipline, and is pro-choice. Most notably, however, is her commitment against endless regime change wars that both siphon money away from things like healthcare, as well as causing the deaths of not just US citizens but the civilians and soldiers of other countries. Because of her stances, one would think smears against her would be from those on the right. Instead, the smears come from her fellow politicians and writers on the left.
It all really started during the 2016 election. Gabbard was vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, and she was highly critical of chairwoman Debbie Waserman Schultz’s decision to hold just 6 debates during the primaries that election cycle, compared to the 26 held in 2008 and 15 in 2004. Gabbard was vocal about her dissatisfaction, and as a result, she was disinvited to subsequent debates. She said the DNC had an unhealthy atmosphere where one had to “check [one’s] free speech at the door”.
Soon after, WikiLeaks leaked emails where Gabbard had privately accused Wasserman Schultz of violating the DNC’s duty of neutrality by favoring Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. That February, Gabbard resigned as vice chair of the DNC in order to endorse Sanders.
Unsurprisingly, the DNC is not terribly fond of now-presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, and without the knowledge of the context writ above, the “muh Russia” smears kind of sound like they’re coming out of nowhere. It all started to heat up again when the New York Times wrote an article condemning Gabbard for having right wing supporters (is it not the goal that we bring people from the right over to the more left side of the aisle? “War = bad” is a fairly non-partisan issue) as well as being an “Assad apologist”, which is a long debunked and tired smear that stems from the childish idea that we should never try to work with the people we are fighting in order to stop the fighting and killing.
The most bizarre claim, however, by the NYT is that Gabbard is somehow a Russian asset. Similarly, naught but a few hours before the most recent democratic debates were to take place, CNN analyst Bakari Sellers called her a “puppet for the Russian government” on air, without any evidence to back such a heinous claim up.
And then, in a turn of events that we all honestly should have predicted considering the way that the 2016 DNC debacle went, lizard-in-human-skin herself, Hillary Clinton, weighed in on the “muh Tulsi is a Russian asset” debate. “I’m not making any predictions,” quoth Clinton in a bid to stay relevant, “but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She’s the favorite of the Russians.”
Gabbard was quick to respond to Clinton, calling her the “queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party”, and implying that it’s clear that Clinton has been behind the smears, who Gabbard opposed in 2016.
Sanders soon weighed in, saying how Gabbard has “put her life on the line to defend this country” and that while people can disagree on issues, it’s outrageous to suggest she is a foreign asset.
It really is outrageous. Beyond the complete lack of evidence that Gabbard has foreign ties, it is outright impossible. She is on the Armed Services Committee and therefore is thoroughly vetted and checked periodically so that she, out of every democrat on the debate stage, literally could not be a foreign asset.
They did this to Sanders, as well as to Jill Stein when she too dared to break away from the establishment thought and political approach. Gabbard differs from her fellow candidates in really one area: her commitment to a non-interventionist foreign policy. And if the DNC is putting so much effort into silencing someone because that person is vehemently anti-war, then we all need to take a serious look at who war benefits and why they would destroy a person’s reputation just to continue these wars.