If you asked every conservative and pro-liberty individual in the US what their most important political issues were, you might find that their top concerns involved endless foreign entanglements, domestic surveillance, socialism, gun control, and immigration. Though President Trump has kept a few of his promises – which is a claim that most politicians can’t make – he has also continued the endless foreign wars, domestic surveillance, and implemented more gun control than Obama did. It is also clear that the southern border wall will never be built and millions of illegals continue to roam the US. Trump generally supports socialist policies nearly as much as the Democrats. On the five biggest conservative issues, Trump has largely failed to deliver. At some point, exasperated conservatives may consider supporting a candidate who they believe could satisfy even one or two of their most important concerns.
Enter: A combat veteran who opposes war
Many of the most passionate activists who oppose endless wars, world policing, endangering US soldiers, and regime change policies are US military veterans. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is an army medic who has been in combat in the middle east and she continues to serve in the Hawaii national guard to this day. Having seen firsthand the pointless and perpetual wars that every president and nearly every politician forces the US military to engage in, Gabbard has grown to become one of the most vocal anti-war activists in DC along with Senator Rand Paul. Among the anti-war legislation that she’s sponsored are HR 608, which would stop the insane practice of arming terrorists with US military resources and HR 411, which would automatically begin impeachment proceedings in the event that a president engaged in a war without congressional declaration, as per the Constitution. This seems like a no-brainer and a constitutional bill, but every president goes to war without congressional approval, they just call it a ‘battle’ or ‘mission’ instead of a ‘war’. Though it would be impossible to know for certain whether Tulsi would bring the troops home and stop trying to police/influence every nation on Earth, we know for certain that Trump is fine with the status quo. In fact, one of Trump’s first acts as president was attacking Syria with 59 missiles in order to punish Syrian President Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons against Syrians. Shortly afterward, President Trump’s own Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis admitted that Assad could not possibly have committed the attack. The Hawaii congresswoman is a veteran and is not an establishment politician (both parties’ establishments hate Gabbard).
Reining in domestic surveillance
President Trump has seemingly done nothing to stymie the perpetual increase in government surveillance over Americans, to my knowledge. In fact, Trump calls himself a ‘law & order’ politician and seems to support strengthening law enforcement’s ability to spy on, steal from, and punish Americans. When asked about domestic surveillance in an interview, Trump said that he “errs on the side of security” – not liberty or privacy. Donald Trump recently sent a letter to Congress requesting that the permanently reauthorize the NSA’s domestic surveillance program that is scheduled to expire in December, according to the NY Times.
Conversely, Gabbard has been a loud critic of domestic surveillance since being elected to Congress. She has supported numerous bills which would protect Americans from US government spying. Gabbard worked with liberty caucus members to defeat the Patriot Act spying expansion. As advancing technology and growing government bring cyber-security to the forefront of political debate, we will all want someone in the White House standing up for us and against the surveillance agencies who have massive spying powers that we aren’t even allowed to know about. To date, Gabbard seems to be the only presidential candidate who plans to drop the charges against (or pardon) Assange and Snowden.
Famously exclaiming during his State of the Union speech last year that “America will never be a socialist nation”, President Trump may have secured the support of some naive conservatives. However, the facts show that Trump is roughly within 5 percentage points of the last 4 presidents on the communism-anarchism political spectrum. The Trump administration continues to tax and spend 4 and 5 trillion dollars each year, respectively. Those figures both increase each year, as they always have and always will. The 80+ federal welfare programs (HUD, TANF, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) continue to proliferate and the budgets for each continues to rise. The other definition for socialism involves government control of the economy. In this regard, Trump is again barely better than Obama was. While Trump has cut taxes (though the tax cuts for individuals is temporary and the tax code remains complicated and over 70,000 pages long) he still seems to believe that the entire US economy ought to be controlled by DC. Trump identifies as a capitalist, but is still the moderate socialist Yankee he’s always been. Trump’s budget request was a record $4.75 trillion. The federal government only takes in $3.6 trillion each year, creating a trillion-dollar budget deficit. That is not fiscal conservatism.
To her credit, Gabbard admits that she supports socialist taxes and welfare programs. Under a Gabbard administration, taxes might increase, but she also might deregulate the FDA enough to actually cut pharmaceutical costs for Americans enough to offset the minor tax increases. Considering that Gabbard would reverse Trump’s terribly damaging and anti-capitalist tariffs, one could argue that neither is more socialist than the other. It’s a toss-up.
Gabbard supports gun control and Trump supports gun rights. Or does he? Obama passed no gun control laws during his 8 years a president. In his first 2 years, Trump has already passed one major gun control law (without congress), Trump said that we should “Take the guns first and worry about due process later” in regards to red flag laws, and implied that he would like to pass a third major blow to gun rights.
Gabbard seems to be a moderate Democrat on guns. Her website and her votes imply that she’s not intent on letting everyone keep their AR-15s. At least she has principles and at least she’s honest about them.
All of that being said, the actual policies that Gabbard would support and potentially pass as President might result in gun owners gaining massive ground. Former New Hampshire State Representative Dan Hynes explained in a Facebook post that “The #1 criticism I hear about Tulsi from liberty minded independents is that she is bad on guns. Tulsi wants to end the war on drugs and decriminalize marijuana. Under federal law, you cannot own or possess a gun if you use marijuana, even for medical use, or in states where it is allowed. Decriminalizing marijuana would instantly allow millions of Americans to lawfully exercise their right to possess a firearm. Since more people would be able to possess a gun under Tulsi than under Trump, does that make Tulsi a better candidate for 2A rights? Tulsi does, unfortunately, support banning so-called assault rifles, but Trump did ban more of my guns than Obama.”
President Trump was elected by conservatives largely because he promised to enforce immigration laws, repeal DACA, and build a physical wall on the southern border. As of this writing, Trump has accomplished none of those goals, and he has deported fewer illegals than Obama did. Gabbard also seems to agree with Trump on the moderation of the H1B Visa program. A President Gabbard might actually have similar immigration policies to Trump! Read more about her immigration platform here.
Bonus issue: Foreign trade
While writing this article, Fox Business reported that a Trump Tweet caused the stock market to tumble. The Republican president announced that he has added a new tariff of 10% on $300 billion of Chinese imports, and that it will begin on September 1st. This is in addition to the 25% tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods. The first tariff had a terrible effect on the US, and the new one will likely hurt as well. Far be it from me to claim expertise in international trade, but I am not a fan of Trump’s policy on the matter. I rarely ever discuss any type of foreign policy, which includes trade. Gabbard seems to oppose multilateral, complex, and corrupt trade deals. She says on her site that she supports American workers. Take from that what you will. Again, we know what we’re getting from Trump, and it’s not good. Do you support more of the same or do you want to try something that might be better and probably can’t be worse? If you’re not part of the 36% of Americans who believe that the US is on the right track, you should consider electing people who want to take a different course.
Bonus issue: Principle
Even conservatives who love Trump admit that he seems to have no principles. He said that he supports gun rights, and then came out in support of ‘taking the guns first’ after talking to Diane Feinstein. He said he doesn’t support socialism, but he’s done nothing much to change our increasingly socialist policies. The wall has not been started, foreign wars continue to proliferate, and not much has changed since Obama was president. Trump does not seem to have solid principles.
Tulsi Gabbard recognized years ago that the DNC was corrupt and did not allow her to express her principled beliefs. She resigned as vice-chair in 2016 to endorse Bernie Sanders, who was ultimately crushed by the DNC due to their anointing of Hillary Clinton as their nominee – primary voters be damned. It takes a certain type of person to resign as vice-chair of the largest political party in the US just to stand for what you believe in. Such an act demonstrates principle.
If you are pro-freedom conservative, libertarian, or independent, you could make a pretty strong case for supporting Tulsi Gabbard over Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. If you are one of the millions of Americans who consider perpetual Orwellian wars to be the most serious issue, Tulsi is your candidate. If you find yourself worrying about domestic surveillance by the NSA (or fine folks like Comey, Clapper, Holder, Lynch, and the like), Tulsi is your candidate. If you want a president who supports the decriminalization of drugs like marijuana and ending the trillion-dollar waste called the ‘war on drugs’, Tulsi is your candidate. If you are hesitant to trust her, you need only to see how much the Democratic and Republican establishments hate her. Being that she is hated by the DNC, NSA, military industrial complex, corrupt politicians and their cronies, and authoritarians of all sorts for opposing their perpetual attacks on privacy and peace, Gabbard may actually be a president for the people. Trump is the status quo. Tulsi is different.