Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) — the first Hindu member of the U.S. House of Representatives — is known for standing for principles over party loyalty. A quality lacking in most of her colleagues.
The former Army veteran who spent 12 months in Iraq serving as specialist with a 29th Support Battalion medical company, is a native of Leloaloa, American Samoa. At age three, however, Gabbard’s family moved to Hawaii. According to rumors, Gabbard could be under consideration for a post at the Defense Department, State Department, or United Nations.
During a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump in New York City, Gabbard told the public in a statement, the two discussed foreign policy, a subject which often puts Gabbard and her party at odds.
“President-elect Trump asked me to meet with him about our current policies regarding Syria, our fight against terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria], as well as other foreign policy challenges we face,” Gabbard said.
Concerned that calls for further involvement in Syria would deafen the voices of libertarian-leaning politicians such as herself, Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY), and Justin Amash (R-MI), she claimed she embraced the opportunity to “meet with the President-elect now before the drumbeats of war that neocons have been beating drag us into an escalation of the war to overthrow the Syrian government.”
So far, Gabbard told reporters, the President Barack Obama-led involvement with the Syrian conflict cost “hundreds of thousands of lives and forced millions of refugees to flee their homes in search of safety for themselves and their families.” But while meeting with Trump, Gabbard continued, she felt the “frank and positive” conversation the two had gave her an opportunity to discuss her concerns associated with the escalation of U.S. intervention abroad. She reassured the President-elect that a no-fly zone would be both a major loss to the United States and the Syrian people. “It would lead to more death and suffering, exacerbate the refugee crisis, strengthen ISIS and al Qaeda, and bring us into a direct conflict with Russia which could result in a nuclear war,” she concluded.
In an interview, Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told the press Gabbard and the President-elect have “a lot of common ground,” a statement that makes sense, considering Gabbard’s stance against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy and her split from the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Up until February 28, 2016, Gabbard served as the vice-chair of the DNC, when she resigned in order to endorse then-candidate Sanders for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. In order to personally push for his nomination, she did the right thing and resigned her post. The opposite of what then-chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz allegedly did. When WikiLeaks revealed Schultz had been involved, along with other DNC staffers, in inappropriately backing Clinton in the primary campaigns, Schultz resigned.
In the past, Gabbard voiced strong opposition to President Obama’s Syria policy, claiming he refuses to attack al Qaeda in the region — the group responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the twin towers — while condemning Russia for doing what she perceives as the right thing.
To many libertarians, Gabbard’s comments and strong anti-interventionist positions seem to echo those of conservatives of the Old Right, a group that encompassed Garet Garrett, Albert Jay Nock, H. L. Mencken, Robert Taft, John T. Flynn, and Frank Chodorov, among others.
The Old Right, whose activities and liberty-oriented ideas influenced an entire generation between the 1930’s and 1950’s, were mostly characterized by their distrust in centralized power. While they were fervently against the New Deal, they were also adamantly opposed to U. S. participation in the Cold War, despite their strong opposition to the ideals of communism.
If Gabbard should be placed under any category, it should be that of politicians like the ones who opposed entanglements with foreign powers such as Taft. While her domestic positioning leans progressive, it’s her passionate defense of restraint abroad that brought her closer to President-elect Trump, and for that, Old Right-leaning conservatives — and libertarians — should cheer.