An Open Letter to Tulsi Gabbard’s Fans

2019 07 07 Gabbard interview bw

Hey. How’s it going? I know you’re probably not having the cheeriest of days. Heck, all you have to do is take a look outside: the rain began to fall an hour ago, just as most of us were making our way home from work or school. It feels like it has rained every day this summer—not necessarily for the full day, but for long enough to disrupt those summery vibes, to squash the insouciance that is characteristic of the season. Summer is supposed to be joyous, you see, not all dour and gloomy and solemn, like . . . like politics.

Eh, that’s probably the one subject you are desperate to avoid. You probably haven’t even looked at your phone in a couple of hours, have you? Not since the most predictable news in ages finally broke, not since your hope for a miracle was dashed: aye, it appears that the Democratic Party will not invite Tulsi Gabbard to the next presidential debate, or to any other debates in advance of next year’s general election. That doesn’t mean that you can’t vote for her, of course, but it does mean she stands no conceivable chance of winning her party’s presidential nod. She may elect to journey on in her political conquest, but from this day forth, any work that she performs to that end—and any work that we perform to that end—will be labored in the spirit of principle alone, in the dogged and indefatigable commitment to doing what is right, the results be damned.

Ugh, these are pessimistic times. “Ah, what an unkind hour is guilty of this lamentable chance.” I know you’re unhappy. I know you’re feeling down. I know you want to drink, to try you damnedest to ablate the blade that’s pressing down upon you. Please don’t drink, though: if you drink, then you might do something stupid, like write down your thoughts and publish them on the Internet. Leave both of those activities—drinking and posting thoughts on the Internet—to me, a notorious imbecile with nothing to lose. Maybe I can guide you through some of the toxicity that is flowing through your heart tonight, through the putrescence that is flowing underneath each door that you slam shut against a world of injustice. My words may not amount to a hill of beans, but if I write them down, then at least I’ll look like an idiot and you won’t.

All right, I’m gonna pour my drink. Let’s get to work.

Did you fall in love with Tulsi Gabbard’s campaign? It’s okay to admit it. It doesn’t mean that you were in love with her; all it means is that you loved her message, that you loved her audacity, that you loved her dignified delight in dismantling the suffocating structure of the Democratic Party. All day, every day, the corporate media beseeches us to believe that the Democrats exude philosophy and virtue, that the Democrats are the harbinger of twenty-first century enlightenment, that theirs is a cause of pacifistic . . . mother of God, I can’t even finish this. I just can’t bring myself to dress my words up in their gaudy gossamer, not after all I’ve written in contempt of their organization.

You know the drill: the Democrats supposedly represent peace and love and tolerance and justice, yet their proffered candidates legislate consistently on behalf of the arms industry, the health care insurance agencies, the financial elite, and the privatization of prisons. The contrast is recognizable enough when it is described in writing, as it has been here, but it takes on a very different potency when it is addressed on international television by one of the members of the Democratic Party. At that level, it becomes frighteningly surreal, and the pusillanimous reluctance of others to discuss it, let alone confront it, is unforgivable in the eyes and mind of any thoughtful observer. When you see Tulsi Gabbard strip her opponents naked, you really see her strip the Democratic Party naked. That’s unacceptable to the party’s institutional structure and executive apparatus, and because she would not stop, she had to be silenced. That is why she will not appear in the next debate, and why she will be persona non grata in any future presidential contest.

If this was your first time witnessing and basking in the glory of intraparty carnage, then I envy you, for I cannot look upon such a righteous spectacle with fresh eyes. No, my first time watching such a glorious conflagration was in 2011, when Ron Paul, then a contender for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, happily humiliated each of his competitors by proving, night after night, just how bizarrely unwilling they were to embrace their supposed political creed. For those who don’t recall that ridiculous time in our political history, the country was divided straight down the middle over how much of a role the government should have in our personal lives. According to the intellectual authorities of the day, President Obama represented the government’s extending reach, while his Republican challengers proposed a retreating grasp. That conceptual framework strikes us an improbable hilarity today, but then again, is it really so much more bizarre than the current claim that Joe Biden or Kamala Harris represents a fundamental ideological alternative to President Trump?

Of course not. The distinction is as frivolous today as it was then, if not even more so. Ron Paul was not the only presidential candidate with the intellectual firepower to see through the charade, but he was the only one with the moral fiber to acknowledge it, over and over again, regardless of how often the Republican Party told him that he was signing his own political death warrant in the process. Nevertheless, he persisted, and it was ineffably satisfying to watch him ridicule Rick Perry, an arch-conservative, for raising taxes, though not nearly as delicious as it was to see him take Newt Gingrich to task for demanding military action against Iran after he had dodged the draft in Vietnam. That kind of elementary hypocrisy should be unforgivable in the eyes of voters, but all too many conservatives in 2011 and 2012 were swept up by the media’s manufactured hysteria, and so, they were willing to forsake principles and values in favor of that elusive, nebulous notion of “electability”.

Fast-forward to the year 2019, and Tulsi Gabbard was bushwhacking her candidates with a similar degree of effortlessness. You recall as well as I do how handily she made mincemeat of Tim Ryan, a right-wing militarist who doesn’t even know which organization he pretends to oppose. That was a cathartic and rewarding moment for all of us who understand that a mainstream Democrat would be at least as imperialistic as Trump, but it is extremely dangerous for the Democratic Party, whose financial and cultural viability depends on our ignorance of its startling likeness to the Republican Party. While there may be some ideological differences between the two parties, there is absolutely no remarkable difference on their approach to war: the imperialism of the United States continues, regardless of which party possesses the administrative reins.

Tulsi Gabbard is the exception to the rule, just as Ron Paul was his own exception not so long ago. Gabbard draws our attention to the absurdity of American foreign policy, not just because it is so obscenely immoral, but because it is unfathomably costly, too: as Gabbard has mentioned at many a campaign rally, the United States spends more than $48 billion in Afghanistan each year, yet we are somehow incapable of financing universal healthcare at the cost of $65 billion annually? With the exception of Marianne Williamson, she is the only presidential candidate who has been willing even to discuss American foreign policy: if all the evidence you had was what the candidates said at the debates, then you would have to assume that none of the other contenders was even aware of the crises taking place in Venezuela and Syria.

Alas, all too many Americans receive their political information only from corporate sources, such as MSNBC and CNN, both of whom have broadcasted debates hitherto. When a potential voter is exposed to Tim Ryan’s embarrassing ignorance (at best) or his malicious perfidy (more likely), it suddenly becomes that much harder to convince the voter that those who think like Ryan are right for the job of president. That is why the Democratic Party, and their partners in interactive media, had to put in preternatural effort to ensure that Gabbard did not reach a wide audience: they gave her as few questions as they could during the first debate, one of which was a veiled assault on her record, but when she made the most of her opportunity by humiliating Ryan, the Democratic Party enlisted Google to ensure that people could not access her campaign website—though only, the technological giant would later declare, for a few hours.

These latter methods, slander and suppression, are crude, even primitive, and surprisingly easy to be understood. By contrast, the Republican Party was much more sophisticated in its subtle assault on Ron Paul, working quietly with the media to ensure that he received minimal coverage. It was much easier to restrict the flow of information back then; obviously, the Internet was ubiquitous in 2012, but mainstream sources had yet to come under sustained assault by Donald Trump. Tulsi Gabbard has resisted a more modern crusade, one defined by its blatancy—possibly unavoidable, as the media has become so much more homogenous in recent years. Her short-lived candidacy, which was, through no fault of her own, incapable of withstanding such a mighty intercorporate conspiracy, will be a fascinating case study in the years to come, as the political parties work to ensure that no legitimate challenger to their omnipotent throne is ever given more than a second to breathe.

None of this is especially revelatory to you, of course: you’re thoughtful enough to have declined the media’s saccharine propaganda and to have taken a resilient interest in Gabbard. Unfortunately, your intellectual integrity is unheard-of among the buffoons who are currently prancing about on Twitter, throwing their own childish version of the #TulsiDidntQualifyParty. Even if these people have a natural concurrence with the Democratic Party’s imperialist agenda, which they don’t, still, it is strange to see them celebrating the demise of one of their own. As I noted in my interview with Gabbard, the Left professes to be all about diversity, empowerment, and inclusion, yet now it expresses a sadistic, gluttonous pleasure in the fall of a Hindu woman of Samoan descent who serves in the Armed Forces, and whose domestic program is far more left-wing than Joe Biden’s or Kamala Harris’s? Something tells me that, if it were Elizabeth Warren who were forced out of the third debate, and if it were the Trumpeters who were reveling in her failure by posting GIFs of girls falling down the stairs, then the liberals would be quick to levy accusations of misogyny.

Then again, Gabbard was expected to adhere to the Democrats’ rules without ever benefiting from their protection. Not once did they include her in their self-aggrandizing compliments about their own diversity, nor did their gushing jingoism extend to her Army-issued boots. We could talk all day and night about the hypocrisy of the modern Democratic Party, but never was the contrast any more striking, any more undeniable, than in the Kafkaesque treatment of Tulsi Gabbard. Joe Biden was given all the time in the world to defend his abysmal record on civil rights, but Gabbard was crucified because of a homophobic video released by her father when she was twelve years old. It didn’t matter how far each blow reached below the belt: the Democratic Party actively facilitated the cannibalism of one of their own because they couldn’t decline checks from Haliburton and Boeing, merchants of death whose business models don’t exactly coincide with the Democrats’ pledges to keep our children safe.

Man . . . and I thought it was frustrating, watching the supposedly freedom-loving Republicans refuse to acknowledge Ron Paul’s existence. You know, I understand why a conservative wouldn’t like Paul: there is, after all, a difference between conservatism and libertarianism, and you could make a reasonable argument against some of Paul’s domestic policies. But a progressive cannot make a reasonable argument against Gabbard: even if you buy into the agitprop that demonizes Syria, Russia, and Turkey, you cannot argue as a progressive that the only solution is warfare. That is inherently untenable within any thoughtful progressive framework, yet somehow, it became a deal-breaker to the same people who scream, “Anyone but Trump!”

I don’t want to drag this on forever, so let’s end with a discussion of why we came to support Gabbard in the first place. If she was, in fact, your first political love, then you probably supported her because you thought she would be the next President of the United States. I didn’t. When she embarked upon the campaign trail—earlier than any other candidate, if I recall—I saw that she was making enemies of powerful people, that she was willing to address the foundational problems in this country of ours, that she wanted to speak to us as adults. Accordingly, I knew that she was going to face incredible opposition, that the tyrants in finance and in the media would sick their bulldogs on her, that she would be undermined every single day. I knew her campaign had been sabotaged by her own party before she even boarded the plane out of Hawaii.

And that is exactly why I’ve been supporting her. I don’t believe in the repulsive dogma of realpolitik, and I won’t support a war criminal like Joe Biden—or an aspiring war criminal, like Cory Booker—simply because there is a D after his name. I supported Ron Paul even though everybody told me, literally everybody told me, that he stood no chance of winning. All of them were right, of course, though not for the reasons they cited: he stood no chance because he was up against forces that cannot be beat at their own game. That wasn’t the point, of course: the point of his presidential campaign was to raise awareness, to dispense the all-important red pill to as many people as were willing to accept the bitter medicine. I didn’t know that at the time: back then, I really thought that Ron Paul would win, and my heartbreak as he failed to triumph even in a single primary—with the ultimate exception of the U.S. Virgin Islands—scarred me. It’s a big reason why I couldn’t get animated for the showdown in 2016: I was still hurting, however subtly, four years later.

The only benefit to that wound is that I understood what Tulsi Gabbard was up against this time around. I didn’t allow myself to quaff on the intoxicating poison of the American Dream, on the dishonest promise of what America is, but what is, in fact, only what America ought to be. If you were not as cynical as I was at the start of this campaign, if you still believed in the possibility of American democracy . . . if you still believed in miracles, then I’m truly sorry. I still remember that Iowa caucus in 2012, how Paul was leading for much of the night . . . and then he wasn’t. For real, my brothers and sisters: I wish I could give you a hug right now. I know it sucks. I know it hurts.

The Democratic Party knows you’re hurting, too. Those tyrants in charge, they see the stuff you post, the smiles as you pose for a picture with a respectable woman, the love you have for her . . . yeah, they see it all, and they believe in it, too. That’s why they cut her off at the knees today, with so much time remaining until the general election: they’re counting on you to get through your grief, to overcome your pain, to forget about how much you supported her, and believed in her, and loved her. They want you to forget all of that, to betray your own heart, and to support one of the sadistic myrmidons who are lining up to do the Party’s bidding, to accept the grotesque terms of their endearment, to embrace their masters’ damning benediction.

Don’t do it. Don’t forsake your values to appease the most repulsive among you. Don’t allow yourself to lap up the blood of Tulsi Gabbard and to say that it’s delicious. Don’t disgrace her legacy. Don’t disgrace yourself. Join me in voting for her in the primary, just to show the donkeys, the jackals, that we will not be soothed by their mendacious words, nor will we be beguiled by their prostitutes, gussied up in the cheapest of fabrics. No, we won’t take it. In the general election, we will vote, all right, but not for the Democratic Party’s so-called nominee. For whom will you vote? For the Green Party candidate? For the Libertarian Party candidate? For Tulsi? Personally, I plan to vote for Julian Assange—ineligible, for he is not an American, though he may soon be imprisoned as an American. You vote as you will, but I would make only one request: don’t vote in any way that you wouldn’t vote tonight.

God, I need another drink.

Keep your head up.


–Dack Rouleau

3 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Tulsi Gabbard’s Fans”

  1. Um, Dack, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. She’s still got a shot at the October debate, especially if she concentrates on the early primary states and gets a couple decent local polls out of them. Then we’ll just have to see what she wants to do after that. Go back home and protect her House seat? Keep on running and hope for a New Hampshire upset (in a primary state, where organization might not be as important as in Iowa)? It’s wait and see, but Tulsi’s made it clear she’s not dropping out just yet.


    1. In the article, I encourage people to vote for her anyway, but you know as well as I do that she’s appeared in her last debate: the DNC now has a reason not to include her in future polling, which was already an issue. I’d like to see her go 3rd party.


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