The Administration

Trump’s outreach to progressive Tulsi Gabbard paves way for unity

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trump gabbard

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) emerged as a progressive icon this past election for her principled stand against corrupt former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

{mosads}In October, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard publicly called for more debates to be added to the primary debate schedule while serving as one of five DNC Vice Chairs. As a result of her dissent, the DNC disinvited her from attending the first Democratic Primary debate.

“It’s very dangerous when we have people in positions of leadership who use their power to try to quiet those who disagree with them,” Gabbard told the New York Times. “When I signed up to be vice chair of the D.N.C., no one told me I would be relinquishing my freedom of speech and checking it at the door.”

Gabbard eventually resigned from her position as DNC Chair after the South Carolina Democratic Primary in February 2016 to join the Bernie Sanders campaign as a surrogate, and was one of his most visible supporters on the campaign circuit. Her popularity has incited several Facebook groups in support of her to run for president in 2020, one of which has over 16,000 members, including Bernie Sanders’ wife, Jane Sanders.

Gabbard met with Donald Trump at Trump Tower on November 21. Though the purpose of the meeting has not been revealed, Gabbard noted on Twitter, “I did not meet with President-elect Trump seeking a job, nor did he offer me one.”  

“The New York Times” reporter Jeremy Peters hinted Gabbard was being considered to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Although that position has now been offered to longtime Trump critic South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Gabbard is also reportedly being considered for top jobs at the Defense Department or State Department.

In a statement regarding the meeting, which Congresswoman Gabbard cited was focused on foreign policy, she said:

“While the rules of political expediency would say I should have refused to meet with President-elect Trump, I never have and never will play politics with American and Syrian lives.”

Gabbard has repeatedly demonstrated she is more devoted to her principles than the political expediency and wealthy donors that most politicians tend to focus their careers on.

She added:

“Where I disagree with President-elect Trump on issues, I will not hesitate to express that disagreement. However, I believe we can disagree, even strongly, but still come together on issues that matter to the American people and affect their daily lives. We cannot allow continued divisiveness to destroy our country.”

Trump’s controversial Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon allegedly likes Gabbard because of she voted in favor of a Republican sponsored bill that requires refugees from Iraq and Syria receive FBI background checks, but Gabbard was one of 47 Democrats to vote for the bill.

As with gun control, another cited reason Bannon likes Gabbard, Gabbard has been attacked by some Democrats for her moderate position on gun control measures. But Gabbard has advocated for sensible gun control similar to the positions Bernie Sanders has taken.

“Tulsi is focused on building bipartisan solutions that can actually be passed into law, rather than using the issue as a partisan political football,” her website explains.

Gabbard’s consideration for from Donald Trump likely stems from her bipartisan, populist appeal.

The former Iraq War veteran is well liked by Republicans and Progressives, and is an opportunity for Trump to elevate the type of Democrats he wants to work with during his presidency. By providing a progressive populist like Tulsi Gabbard a role in his administration, it would put even more pressure for Democrats to cater to the Bernie Sanders progressive wing of their party moving forward.

In the aftershock of Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump, Democrats have been conflicted as to how to respond to a Donald Trump presidency moving forward, while they also failed to recoup majorities in both houses of congress.

Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Charles Schumer, and other top Democrats have signaled they are willing to work with Donald Trump, even if they must circumvent the Republican Majorities in Congress to do so.

The potential appointment of Tulsi Gabbard to a top Trump administration would facilitate that bipartisanship and hold Democrats more firmly to it. Though Gabbard serving in the Trump administration may irk establishment Democrats, the country and the Democratic Party will be much better off for it. 

Sainato is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian and the Huffington Post. Follow him on Twitter @msainat1.

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags Bernie Sanders Charles Schumer Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Hillary Clinton Tulsi Gabbard

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