Tulsi Gabbard’s Dark Side Transition Now Complete With Scheduled CPAC Appearance
This year’s predictably terrible Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) kicks off Thursday in Orlando, Florida. The featured speakers include Imaginary-President-For-Life Donald Trump, as well as such conservative luminaries as Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, GOP Senator Ted Cruz, and former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
Yep, CPAC organizer Matt Schlapp just confirmed Gabbard’s appearance at the event. She’s scheduled to speak at the annual Ronald Reagan dinner. I can’t say I’m surprised, but I kind of imagined they’d get Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema first.
You'll notice Schlapp describes Gabbard as a 2020 presidential candidate, but doesn’t use the dreaded “D” word for “Democrat.” Gabbard ran as a Democrat and even endorsed Joe Biden for president. She also praised literal socialist Bernie Sanders’s "lifelong fight for justice, healthcare, and equality for all Americans.” The American Conservative Union foundation, which heads up CPAC, gives Gabbard a lifetime voting record of just 7.63 out of 100. ACU considers her strongest issue to be national security, and her weakest issues taxes and human dignity. We’re pretty sure Gabbard's an asshole, but it’s less clear she’s actually conservative, although there’s a lot of overlap.
Gabbard has advocated for breaking up “too-big-to-fail” banks, like a common Elizabeth Warren. In 2019, she introduced the Wall Street Banker Accountability for Misconduct Act. She supported free community college for all Americans and proposed making all four-year college tuition free for students whose annual family income was $125,000 or less. She would’ve funded this with a new tax on trading stocks and bonds. She shivved Kamala Harris during the Democratic debates when she hammered the former prosecutor for apparently being ... tough on crime.
Some of Gabbard's other positions from the distant past of 2019 include banning fracking and mandating an end to the use of fossil fuels for electricity by 2050, banning assault weapons and requiring universal background checks. She co-sponsored such bills while in Congress. She co-sponsored Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s Medicare For All bill in the House.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez receives death threats for similar positions, but Gabbard receives a CPAC invite. Yes, Gabbard really, really, really hates Hillary Clinton and really, really, really seems to dig brutal dictators. Maybe that’s what passes for actual policy in the smoldering ruins of a party that literally had no platform in 2020 other than slavish support for Donald Trump.
Matt Schlapp doesn’t even consider himself a “conservative” anymore. During an appearance on Steve Bannon’s “War Room,” Schlapp said he doesn't use the term "conservative movement," choosing instead to say "American movement." He added, "We’re no longer conservatives. We’re Americans who love our founding.”
“America First” is basically a code word for white nationalism. It doesn’t matter to CPAC audiences that Gabbard has held — and perhaps still holds — economic policy positions to the left of Joe Biden and certainly Joe Manchin. She’s also loudly denounced the Democratic Party’s so-called “racialization” of politics and society, while unironically appearing on Tucker Carlson’s white power hour as an honored guest. She’s jumped on the anti-critical race theory bandwagon and demanded Democrats stop “dividing Americans by the color of our skin.” She also opposes vaccine mandates.
Gabbard's also fine with the the right wing's growing embrace of pro-Putin policies. She dismisses the imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine because she doesn’t consider Ukraine an actual democracy, and has been spreading some of the same arguments to that effect we've been hearing from Tucker.
\u2026the head of the opposition political party which came in 2nd place in the election, and arrested and jailed its leaders (exactly what Putin has been accused of doing)\u2014all with the support of U.S.— Tulsi Gabbard \ud83c\udf3a (@Tulsi Gabbard \ud83c\udf3a) 1645266367
The “warmonger” insult is now popular among the MAGA GOP. It’s among Trump’s go-to insults for Rep. Liz Cheney, who admittedly has historically been pretty supportive of military intervention and world-building.
Tulsi Gabbard might’ve promoted progressive policies in the past, but she’s a full-fledged MAGA culture warrior now. She’s a perfect fit for CPAC. Can we now stop calling her a Democrat?
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."