Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has dropped out of the 2020 presidential race to endorse her ideological opposite, establishment darling Joe Biden. It’s political suicide – for her, and for the idea of a progressive Democrat.
Gabbard’s decision to bow out on Thursday may have made sense from an electoral perspective – with just two delegates from her native American Samoa, she wasn’t exactly a serious challenger to the much-more-popular Biden or even Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, whom she supported in the 2016 race.
Shut out of the primary debates by a Democratic Party establishment afraid she might do to the frontrunner what she had done to California Senator Kamala Harris, whose juggernaut campaign began taking on water after Gabbard exposed her heinous record live on stage, Gabbard had little hope of an eleventh-hour electoral rally.
But while swearing fealty to the presumed nominee may have scored her some points among her establishment critics, most had a clear ulterior motive, using her exit as further leverage to pressure Sanders to drop out.
Many were quite open about dancing on her grave.
At the same time, Gabbard’s erstwhile supporters feel betrayed, and justifiably so. A candidate who built her campaign on opposition to the business-as-usual Democratic policies of cloaking foreign military intervention in humanitarian jargon, Gabbard instead called for taking the trillions spent on the slaughter and plunder of hopelessly-outmatched Middle Eastern nations and using that money to rebuild the crumbling American homeland. It was a message that resonated across the partisan divide, even attracting some disillusioned 2016 Trump supporters who had voted for the president based on his promise to end the endless wars in Syria and Afghanistan, then watched in horror as he stepped up the bombing and tried to open another front in Iran.
For the young Hawaiian to throw her support behind Biden – a man with nearly a 50-year track record of supporting Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, Big Pharma and the rest of the ruling establishment “because he has a good heart” is spitting in the face of the hundreds of thousands of supporters who have contributed to her campaign, made phone calls on her behalf, packed town halls, and otherwise poured their precious time and money into supporting a long-shot candidate.
It’s no surprise they aren’t taking it well. How are voters supposed to trust any future “progressive” candidates after such turncoat maneuvers from not only Gabbard but Sanders, who in 2016 turned on a dime to stump for establishment pick Hillary Clinton after a coterie of unelected superdelegates declared her the winner following a primary process which leaked emails revealed beyond a shadow of a doubt to be rigged? Gabbard’s political seppuku should force progressive Democrats to come to terms with the fact that there is no room for reform within their party.
On the bright side, those same pundits who screamed themselves hoarse warning that Gabbard was working for Vladimir Putin to sow discord among the American electorate and swing the nation to Trump now have to quietly revise their apocalyptic visions. Will they admit the congresswoman is not the Russian wrecking ball they claimed she was, or will they carry the fantasy to the finish line and say Gabbard has infected Biden’s campaign with Russian ‘malign influence’?