With the realization that Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard will not be invited to the third round of Democratic debates in September, many took to social media to celebrate. With #TulsiDidntQualifyParty trending and the qualification deadline looming, I found myself befuddled and even a little amused; the DNC has shown, once again, that it is beholden to political elites and will block anyone who may upset the status quo.
I feel I must first qualify this by pointing out that I most likely would not vote for Congresswoman Gabbard and I certainly would not vote for any other Democrat. I also have no plans to vote for the President (didn’t vote for him the first time, don’t plan to the second time). This is one of the perks of being a third-party voter; I can watch our evil stepsisters slug it out and make fools of themselves while we quietly and happily court the disenfranchised.
Congresswoman Gabbard is fascinating to Libertarians, however. Many publications have focused on the unusual affinity that Libertarians have for the Democrat from Hawaii, pointing out that she would be the best option, if voters are dissatisfied with the LP’s nominee in 2020. Gabbard has shown herself to be committed to peace and ending our policy of foreign intervention, civil liberties, criminal justice reform and ending the War on Drugs. But Gabbard loses Libertarians with Medicare for All, “free” college, gun control, minimum wage hikes, and the general Democratic domestic platform. Foreign policy alone is not enough, but it is a fantastic start, and some believe that she could come to Libertarianism with the right nudge.
Bearing that in mind, Congresswoman Gabbard has shown herself to be brilliant, fiercely dedicated, and willingly critical of her fellow candidates, more so than the rest of the field. And this seems to be the problem for the DNC. During the second round of Democratic debates, Gabbard made an incredible impression on the public as she picked apart Senator Kamala Harris’ record as California’s Attorney General. This exchange led Gabbard to be the most googled of the candidates following the debate and brought out an unbecoming display of petulance from Harris during the post-debate wrap-up.
For those that have not yet repressed the cataclysmic election of 2016, they will remember that the DNC was accused of stonewalling Senator Bernie Sanders as he ran against Hillary Clinton. Emails released by Wikileaks showed a measure of contempt by the DNC for Sanders and a 2016 lawsuit alleged that the National Committee supported Clinton from the beginning and manipulated the primary process to ensure her victory. One now wonders if the Democrats have been working on a less fraudulent scheme by utilizing the large field and ever-inane rules of public debates to stymy the most capable debater of the bunch.
As a third-party voter, I am no stranger to the mindless rules of televised debates that prevent established parties from participating. One thing that Democrats and Republicans seem to agree on at every level of government is the need to prevent the public from being exposed to new perspectives and ideas. While Gabbard seems to be saying much of the same things as the rest of the Democratic field, she has also distinguished herself and exposed the weakness of the “top tier,” to quote Senator Harris.
Democracy, particularly within a Republic, must always be predicated on transparency. Without such, we fall prey to a sort of decentralized monarchy, perpetuated by a kind of hereditary right granted by our major parties. It is not merely the shadows of corruption and partiality that should bother the voters, but the cowardly nature of party politics itself.
The Democrats have not yet learned that the strongest candidate is not merely the most popular, but the one who has walked through fire and remains standing. Gabbard may not win, but her presence on the campaign trail has and will continue to ignite a blaze around the other candidates. Honest competition will always yield the best results.
The decision to withdraw one’s candidacy must be the candidate’s alone and not brought about by manipulation or coercion. To Senator Harris’ supporters, as well as to the rest of the field who may delight in Congresswoman Gabbard’s snub from the debates, you are not celebrating democracy; you are celebrating the feckless perversion of it.