It's easy to like Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Her calm delivery and non-elitist persona is a sharp contrast to her fellow 2020 candidates, especially when on the debate stage. While others like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Beto O'Rourke loudly compete for who can be the most extreme, she presents herself as a moderate alternative.
Gabbard is less well-known than other, decidedly controversial Democrats. Throughout the campaign, her abysmal poll numbers have hovered around the 2% mark. But while she is not a legitimate election threat, she has gained the admiration of a portion of voters on the right. Her recent tussle with Hillary Clinton, where she defended herself against the claim of being a "Russian asset," only increased Gabbard's popularity. Republicans, eternally frustrated with Hillary, are eager to defend her. Many Democrats, aware that Clinton's comments in no way help their 2020 chances, have done the same.
As personalities go, Gabbard appeals to a vast majority. But in terms of policy, she is as radical as the rest of the Democratic presidential hopefuls.
While she does support Second Amendment rights, Gabbard is a vocal proponent of banning assault-style weapons. As a co-sponsor of H.R. 5087, introduced in the House last year, she is publicly acknowledging her belief that removing certain weapons would be a fruitful and productive step in the fight against gun violence.
But as David French noted at National Review at the time the bill was introduced: "We know it would burden the self-defense rights of law-abiding Americans without meaningfully addressing the problems it’s purportedly designed to address. We know it wouldn’t affect overall gun death rates. We don’t have evidence it would prevent mass shootings." With her stance on assault weapons, Gabbard blends in seamlessly with other leftists and their ideas concerning gun control.
Gabbard may seem more down to earth than Sanders, but when it comes to funding higher education, she is fully on board with his ultra-left plan. Sanders' College for All Act, introduced in 2017, is a liberal's dream. Removing tuition and fees from undergraduate public higher education would be a big price tag for both the federal and state governments. According to Sanders, the bill would involve the following:
"This legislation would provide $47 billion per year to states to eliminate undergraduate tuition and fees at public colleges and universities. Today, total tuition at public colleges and universities amounts to about $70 billion per year. Under the College for All Act, the federal government would cover 67% of this cost, while the states would be responsible for the remaining 33% of the cost. In addition, colleges and universities must reduce their reliance on low-paid adjunct faculty."
With a full one-third of the responsibility on states and restrictions on the hiring of faculty, the proposed legislation is a bloated, big-government nightmare. Still, many Democrats, including Gabbard, support it without reservation.
One of the most disturbing aspects of Gabbard's platform is her attitude toward abortion. In a September appearance on The Rubin Report, Tulsi announced her personal, "more libertarian" position on the issue stating, "I think there should be some restrictions, though."
This would be an encouraging departure from her fellow Democrats if Gabbard allowed her private views to inform her public ones. But unfortunately, she does not. As she states in the interview, "I don’t believe that I should be telling anybody else the kinds of decisions that they should make for themselves or their family and therefore a woman should have the right to choose and I will stand up and fight to protect her right to do so." This varies in no way whatsoever from the other Democratic candidates who refuse to publicly protect life in the womb. Gabbard holds a 100% score from NARAL, having voted against a 20-week abortion ban in 2017 and against the idea of legally protected fetal personhood in 2018. In all the ways that she could make a difference for the unborn, she fails entirely.
Along with these leftist positions, Gabbard also wants to do away with the Electoral College, shut down current nuclear power plants, drastically reduce our defense budget, and look into possible reparations.
A conservative, Tulsi Gabbard most certainly is not.
Gabbard's affable demeanor and recent battle with Hillary Clinton have won her some fans. However, once you look past temperament and adversaries, the substance of her beliefs is just as misguided as the rest of the Democratic pack.
Conservatives may be tempted to defend Tulsi against well-established and corrupt foes, but while doing so, they must remember that the enemy of your enemy is definitely not your friend.
Kimberly Ross (@SouthernKeeks) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog and a columnist at Arc Digital.