As many as twenty candidates have either announced or are expected to run in the 2020 presidential race. But only one seems to be looking at the big picture and thinking holistically. Her spirit of Aloha, which as a native Hawaiian she is known to start her conversations with, has the underpinnings of common-sense fiscal prudence, respect for the sovereignty of other nations, and urgency for focusing on investment in our future. That is Tulsi Gabbard, a 4th term US Congresswoman from Hawai’i.
Like any concerned citizen, I am anxious about some intractable problems we face. Gun violence and illegal immigration are the two issues at the top of my list. My expectation from our leaders is to not lose sight of important issues that we face as a country – guaranteeing the strength of our individual voices as citizens in our democracy, our civil liberties, the vibrancy of our local communities, and the environment. Election after election we have witnessed issues of pressing importance being marginalized by the candidates. This cavalier attitude insults the intelligence of an engaged voter like me.
The influence of special interests on our political process is very evident. In six years of her successful legislative tenure in Congress, Tulsi has built a reputation of a reformer, especially in highlighting the influence of special interests, lobbyists, and drawing our collective attention to the need for campaign finance reform. Tulsi raised her voice against “dark money” (corporate donations) so that the wealthy do not silence the ordinary citizens in our democracy. In refusing to accept money from big businesses and Political Action Committees (PAC) Tulsi is spearheading a grassroots movement. She wants our democracy to be about us and our interests.
As a standard bearer of change in our politics, Tulsi has not been afraid of going against special interests within her own party. She has been leading a charge to make the Democratic National Committee (DNC) more open, transparent, and inclusive. In 2016, Tulsi endorsed Bernie Sanders and stepped down as the vice-chair of DNC. She highlighted Hillary Clinton’s interventionist stance against Iraq, Libya, and Syria and called out her military mindset that was costly for our nation. She was also instrumental in bringing the era of superdelegates to an end within the DNC.
In 2015, Tulsi lent her voice to a community in need when California’s Department of Education attempted to re-write its curriculum framework. Suggested changes in California textbooks would have peddled an outdated Eurocentric overview of India and Indians with Marxist-inspired and colonial bias to middle schoolers. Tulsi supported a fair, accurate and equitable representation of Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, along with the contributions of Indian-American communities as a whole. She strongly urged the California State Board of Education to take all necessary steps and address the concerns of the Indian-American community. In doing so, she was the only Congressperson and federally elected legislator who proudly came in support of the community. There is a clear trend emerging. Whether it is a community in need of equity in education in California or native-Americans in the Dakotas wanting to preserve their water and environment, Tulsi is willing to fight for them.
The narrative that Tulsi is building for strengthening the American fabric is different. She has chosen to bring us psychologically together to reinvent America. She is very clear about the most important structural change needed. Tulsi wants our support in reducing the influence of the military-industrial complex that has directly contributed trillions of dollars to our national debt. In the age of rapidly declining trust in most major institutions, including the government, Tulsi with her “service before self”’stance is the only candidate capable of restoring it
Speaking of her unshakeable sense of integrity, she refused to hold on to a much-coveted position in the party when she saw irregularities inside the DNC. She has courageously served the country during two tours to Middle-East. In standing by her faith, she has supported the Indian-American community across the country that needed help. Holding on to a strong sense of ethics, she has taken the bold decision to not allow big-money to influence her. With a strong sense of morality, she fought the DNC to reduce the influence of super delegates, and called out the private prison industry on how it ultimately undermines liberty and justice.
In 2020, we have a candidate who shares the values of our community, stands up for what is right, and works hard everyday fighting for real issues – stopping senseless and costly wars to build our infrastructure, invest in our education system, preserve our environment, while taking care of our veterans.
Rajeev Singh is a Tri-Valley Tulsi Gabbard supporter and a recent transplant from Florida. He is an activist who regularly engages community, interfaith, and elected leaders on a range of issues to support freedom, equality, and justice. Rajeev is an unaffiliated voter.