Although Tulsi Gabbard endorsed Joe Biden in the 2020 election, she recently departed the Democratic Party and encouraged other Democrats to do the same.
In her first speech since leaving the Democratic Party, Gabbard explained that decision in her keynote address at the Center of the American Experiment’s Fall Briefing Saturday night.
The former U.S. representative from Hawaii said she left the Democratic Party because its priorities are more about partisan politics and not about the good of the American people and the country. She said the Joe Biden she endorsed is nothing like the Joe Biden she’s seen in the White House. He has failed in his promise to unite the American people, she said.
“One of the main reasons I left the Democratic Party is because the Democrat Party is the party that is against freedom,” she said. “It is the party that is trying to take away our rights. They are ultimately hostile towards religion and faith and spirituality. It is the party that is hostile towards the rule of law.”
Gabbard said she was “very honest” about why she left the party. She said she wanted there to be “no ambiguity about the problems in today’s Democrat Party and the threats those problems pose to the country and our freedoms.”
She said the problems with today’s Democratic Party are indicative of the dangerous threat the country faces, and not everyone in the country recognizes “how insane things are getting.”
“To a certain number of folks in the country and to a certain number of folks in Washington, it’s just another day,” she said.
Gabbard decided to step down as a state rep in Hawaii to volunteer to deploy to the war in Iraq. She served in a medical unit, and said the deployment changed her worldview. Upon returning, she decided she had to do something constructive with that experience.
“I couldn’t return to my old life … I was informed by reality [and] informed by the cost and consequences I was confronted with every day with my brothers and sisters who were in uniform who were either injured or killed in that war … the direct consequences of the military industrial complex and the exploitation of taxpayer dollars being wasted and ultimately going and launching a regime change war that undermined our national security at great costs to taxpayers and our military,” she said.
She ultimately decided to run for U.S. Congress.
Within six months of being sworn into Congress, Gabbard said President Barack Obama announced he planned to go to war in Syria.
After attending security briefings, Gabbard concluded, much like the war in Iraq, the Obama administration was looking to launch the country into another war with no clear objective and no exit strategy.
She said because it “would end up being another quagmire with no way out, costing us more lives and more taxpayer dollars,” she decided to publicly come out against the president’s decision. After she published an op-ed explaining why she could not support a war in Syria, Gabbard said she got a call from the White House. She did not identify from whom the call came.
“How dare you,” said the person on the other end of the call. “You’re a Democrat. How dare you go out against your own president. You’re from Hawaii, the president’s home state.”
Gabbard said she had been deployed twice. “I’ve seen empty boots with a rifle muzzle stuck down in them with the dog tags hanging off them. And they had the audacity to tell me ‘how dare I?’” she said.
She said the White House’s response to her op-ed was “very telling.”
“To me it was one of those peeking behind the curtain moments, a moment where you see what really matters to them. It’s not the seriousness and the cost and consequences of going and starting another war; it’s ‘how dare you stand against someone in our own party, the leader of your own party.’ They cared more about partisanship and politics than what is best for the American people and our county,” she said.
“That was the beginning of the end for me,” she said, “because they knew I wasn’t going to be someone who would just fall in line. They couldn’t make threats that might work with other people. Because once you’ve been in a place where death is staring you in the face every day, what somebody in the White House thinks about me or what they have to say to me … give me a break.”
She recalled a sign at the north gate of a camp in Iraq that read “Is today the day?” She said those moments stuck with her because they always brought into focus what was most important and that everyone has a “limited amount of time in this life.”
“Whether it’s in Iraq in a war zone on the other side of the world or it’s here in our home, in our communities, we have to make the most of the time that we have and make sure the most important things are the most important things,” she said.
She said those who are paying attention to the damage of partisan politics are disheartened and sickened by the daily chaos.
“Our democracy was stolen in 2020 because 50 senior intelligence officials and the FBI intentionally chose to withhold information from the American voter — the contents of that laptop — because they knew that it would be very likely if people knew what was there, they would not have voted for Joe Biden,” Gabbard said.
“It’s up to us to keep this kind of thing from happening again by continuing to speak about it, to shine a light on it and to hold leaders accountable so they cannot continue to steal our democracy and undermine the institutions that are foundational to our country,” she said.
Gabbard said she now considers herself an independent.
Sheila Qualls is an award-winning journalist and former civilian editor of an Army newspaper. Prior to joining Alpha News, she was a Christian Marriage and Family columnist at Patheos.com and a personal coach. Her work has been published in The Upper Room, the MOPS blog, Grown and Flown, and The Christian Post. She speaks nationally on issues involving faith and family.