With Vice President Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Senator Bernie Sanders and his supporters find themselves disappointed to see another failed “power grab” for the socialist senator. However, a particular political figure stayed in the race much longer than anyone polling as low as she was. Representative Tulsi Gabbard, although polling weak throughout the race for the Democratic Nomination, stayed in the race until March 19, with the majority of her race for president making waves as she faced off strongly against the Democratic establishment.
Representative Tulsi Gabbard represents the second District of Hawaii in the United States House of Representatives. According to her campaign website, “Tulsi brings real-world experience, strength and a vision for America. She is the first female combat veteran to ever run for president.” (1) Representative Gabbard’s combat experience made her a plausible candidate for the Democratic Party who could challenge Trump in swing states. However, her strong opposition to the Democratic establishment made her an unlikely challenger to win the Democratic nomination. Her high-profile rise to prominence made her a target from an unlikely, very popular Democratic individual: Hillary Clinton. In October of 2019, Clinton gave an interview where she discussed the ride of Tulsi Gabbard. According to USA Today, “Although Clinton didn't name Gabbard specifically, the comment was seemingly directed to the Hawaii Democrat, 'She's the favorite of the Russians, they have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far…'” (2) By insinuating that Gabbard was some kind of Russian asset, Hillary Clinton, a powerful figure in the Democratic field, dampened Gabbard’s chances to obtain the nomination for the Presidency.
The fall of Tulsi Gabbard can be traced to several key factors: non-traditional policy stances, an attacking mindset, and a race for the presidency that was quite soft on Donald Trump. Representative Gabbard was often criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike for her non-traditional approach to foreign and domestic policy. One of her most notable policy stances came in early 2017 when she met with Syrian President and (alleged) dictator Bashar Al-Assad. As Newsweek reports, “After meeting the Syrian leader on a quiet "fact-finding" mission in early 2017, his image in the U.S. as an alleged war criminal and human rights abuser followed Gabbard home and has been a frequent target of criticism for her.” (3) Many Americans, including her Democratic challengers, viewed Bashar Al-Assad to be a murderous dictator and many attempted to pressure Gabbard into denouncing him. Newsweek further reported, “Gabbard resisted further attempts to goad her into denouncing the Syrian president, who since 2011 has faced a rebel and jihadi uprising…” (4) Tulsi Gabbard's unique policies often made her a target of challengers like Kamala Harris. Harris attacking Gabbard became clear throughout several debates as Harris surged in the polls, and Gabbard continued polling in the low single digits.
So why then, did Tulsi stay in the race even past the point where she could plausibly win? Simple. Representative Tulsi Gabbard didn’t represent her own interests, she was representing a movement that was sick of polarizing politics and deep distrust in the establishment. Her movement, coupled with a strong showing from third party candidates in recent elections, bodes well for the end of the duopoly of American politics. Tulsi Gabbard, with her young age, might reappear in national elections soon enough. Her expertise in military and foreign policy makes her an excellent candidate for Secretary of State, and that would be a role she could serve faithfully and professionally.