It has been decades since a bona fide antiwar candidate ran for US president; that is, a candidate who ‘felt’ peace in their bones rather than a political calculation to be exploited. By my reckoning, that last campaign would be Sen. George McGovern’s 1972 peace candidacy which came at the height of the Vietnam war. Post 911, there have been no comparable presidential peace candidates although an alternative on economic issues in 2016, Bernie was not considered a ‘peace’ candidate.
A WWII hero who knew the horror of war firsthand like Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hi), McGovern would be able to relate to how the DNC and its media toadies sabotaged Bernie’s campaign in 2016 as the Democratic party and media establishments thoroughly undermined his own peace candidacy back in the day – just as they are doing today against Gabbard.
McGovern would scarcely recognize the Democrats today as it scarcely recognizes itself as the same political party prior to the 2016 election. Since election of the Orange One, the Dems have morphed into an identity politics regime with no rhetorical deviation allowance and a stern authoritarian edge as personified by the Antifa mob who appear confused by their own propaganda making it is easy to lose sight of which side the fascists are on.
If there seemed to be little difference between the Democratic candidates at the debate in June, that is because there is little difference between them. As one MSNBC sycophant put it, “this is not an issues campaign. This is who is the bully who can beat the bully.” It is true that the DNC’s manufactured extravaganza, with its heavy hand in favor of those most simpatico to the party line, offered a series of semi-trivial ‘questions’ as if they represented the most urgent, the most pressing problems the country needs to address.
The two-night burlesque was awkward to watch as the party of quibbling dinosaurs unraveled before our eyes, approaching near total collapse just as the American Empire itself teeters between irrelevance and calamity. The upcoming 2020 election is enough to imbue any Pollyanna with a dread of the future.
As if the purity of the Democratic party is beyond reproach, the Dem establishment would prefer to avoid any mention of foreign policy because that is where there is near-unanimity with the Republicans as both are dominated by the deep state/neocons/illuminati. Every bobbing head on the stage in June acquiesced until Gabbard dared to speak up. Given the dominance of foreign policy as a daily preoccupation in the Oval Office, the topic was mostly an outlier other than the ever-present Iran. What the majority of candidates seem unable to grasp is that foreign policy dominates domestic policy including the People Programs. In case they had not noticed, American infrastructure continues to crumble as $4 billion a month is diverted to the war in Afghanistan and saving the poppy fields.
All of which brings us to Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Cal) whose star has shone brightly since the June debate as she portrayed herself “as the only black person on this stage, I would like to speak on the issue of race.” Initiating a premeditated skirmish with former vice president Joe Biden, Harris played the race card under the guise of her personal life experience. It seemed presumptuous at the time to claim to be black as if to infer that she had been raised as an Afro American with an inner city black experience or to imply that she had been emotionally scarred by busing. The public record does not bear out Harris’ self-assertions yet she would have us believe otherwise as she recounted to Biden “it’s personal and it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. I was that little girl.”
The truth is that Harris is the daughter of a reportedly Indo-Caribbean Jamaican father with Irish ancestors who was a Stanford University economics professor and a Tamil Indian mother who was a cancer research scientist; neither of which can be equated with being black Afro-Americans. Born in 1964 into an affluent family who lived in the Berkeley hills, Harris was bused for three years until her parents divorced when she and her mother moved to Canada where she attended private schools. Presumably Berkeley was not a hot-bed of racial strife or turbulence as her account of being ‘black’ came across as disingenuous, not unlike Barack Obama who was also a product of elite schools and mixed race parentage; neither with roots in the inner city urban experience.
Like many ambitious politicians, Harris can count the demographic vote within the Democratic Party as she regularly over-states her ethnicity in a thinly veiled attempt to identify with African Americans who are a potent voting bloc. She would have been more accurate to refer to herself as a woman of color, like mocha or latte but that would not have had the same political payback or brought her the bump in the polls.
Harris’ self-identity as ‘black,’ however, is in direct conflict with her record as California AG which indicates an insensitivity, even a hostility to the needs of Afro-American black community, especially as they process through the criminal justice system. Assuming that Harris believes she has black roots (just as I believe a morsel of Mary, Queen of Scots flows in my veins), it is questionable how a truly black Afro American state AG could consistently treat their own with such disdain, indifference and cruelty.
As attorney general it was her job as the state’s top legal officer to assure justice for all, not just to pursue convictions or increase incarcerations but to act as guardian of the legal rights of all California citizens. Harris’s hypocrisies on criminal justice issues are widespread as her record speaks for itself and belies her claim to have been a progressive prosecutor.
The product of a fawning MSM, Harris opposed body cameras, was responsible for a state lab scandal with tainted evidence, failed to endorse an effort to reduce certain felonies to misdemeanors, criminally pursued parents whose children were truant and then laughed about it, defended the state’s three strikes law including a last strike of life imprisonment and supported the death penalty after a judicial determination of its unconstitutionality.
On foreign policy issues and as a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees, she has easily identified herself as a lackey for Israel, otherwise known as the ‘power behind the throne’ directing American foreign policy in the Middle East since 911 that is now infecting local US politics with their anti-BDS campaign.
From the outset, Gabbard’s has been an underdog campaign, alternately ignored or harassed by the DNC as its agents dismiss her as ‘unelectable’ with the added frustration of notoriously unreliable ‘polls’ that have cleverly used their algorithms to deny her true standing. Routinely dealing with hostile, in-her-face MSM interviews from Morning Joe, Colbert, the View and others, their entrapment tricks presented an intense learning curve during her initial rollout as a cautious candidate. As Gabbard represents a new emerging political consciousness, she has more than earned her place on stage unlike any candidate since 1972. She has forthrightly looked the pro-war aficionados in the eye, and without flinching or a waiver in her voice, has spoken consistently and clearly for peace, for negotiation, for diplomacy and civility. In case you are too young to relate or haven’t seen it since 1972, Gabbard’s actions were once described as political courage and speaking truth to power.
At the first June debate, the most notable moment came when Gabbard clashed with Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Oh) who is aligned with the old-guard pro-war Democrats. Claiming his moment of fame as Chuck Todd gave Ryan a second shot to answer, Ryan expected to put the Aloha Girl in her place with a bright, shiny face but that did not happen. Gabbard had already come too far to allow the moment to slip away as she pushed back multiple times, not allowing Ryan the last word to justify ‘staying engaged’ in Afghanistan.
Having remained calm and poised during the first hour, Gabbard bided her time with an inner knowing that an opportunity would come and when it did, she seized the moment. After watching her, in a measured display of back-and-forth, she did not let Ryan off the hook. During the upcoming 2020 campaign, there is no other Democrat who would dare confront Trump on the issue of war where they themselves are severely compromised. There is no doubt that when confronted with his betrayal of a non-interventionist promise, his failure to end the wars in Syria and Afghanistan and his appalling rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, it is Gabbard alone, as a combat veteran, who could reduce the Orange One into a Blubbering Blob of Nothingness,
As she takes the stage this week full of the confidence that her message resonates with the American people and committed to distinguish herself, this debate is another opportunity to show what moral leadership is about and to display the depth and breadth, the maturity, the integrity and the heart it would take to be a true commander in chief.
As she takes the stage, all eyes will be on Tulsi as the establishment toadies lie in wait to bring her down, perhaps early in the proceedings. After her take-down of Ryan, she cannot be allowed to talk the peace talk or to challenge one of the party’s prominent shining stars. It may come as an overt attack or a personal query such as “Since you voted for HR 246, will you support sanctions against the BDS movement?” or “How does the Equality Act (HR 5) protect the rights of women in sports?”
I am certainly not suggesting that Tulsi is being set up or that the DNC would ever stoop so low as to sabotage one of their own candidates… would they?
Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist with Friends of the Earth and staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31