Guest column Eva Hudlicka: What happened to independent thought in America?

  • Tulsi Gabbard participates in the recent Democratic debate. AP

Published: 11/29/2019 6:40:27 PM

The last Democratic debate brought the expected sparring and little substantive content about how we might address the many serious challenges we face as a nation. It would appear that the only item the candidates can agree on is to condemn the orange man currently occupying the White House.

It is even more unfortunate that the only truly independent voice, that of Tulsi Gabbard, is being drowned out by the drivel being spewed out by the traditional Democratic National Committee outlets (like the New York Times and CNN). Intellectual luminaries and foreign policy experts such as Times’ Maureen Dowd, Gail Collins and Bianca Vivion Brooks variously suggested that she return to “the Fox news nation” (Dowd), that her “best talent is tearing down other candidates” (Collins) and that she is “robotic, uninspiring” (Brooks).

Sadly, this reflects the reaction of a large majority of Democrats who know little or nothing about Gabbard’s progressive policies, and who prefer to obsess about substitute problems while the nation burns. One might even ask, where is identity politics when we really need it? This is, after all, a female candidate and a woman of color.

Uniformly, the left-leaning talking heads condemn Gabbard for her appearance on Fox news, while at the same time lamenting the political divisions in America.

It is particularly puzzling when a candidate who expresses the desire to “build the coalition around the country and bring people together” (Harris) chooses to lambast Gabbard for attempting to bridge the deepest political divide in America by speaking to Fox news audiences as a Democrat. But you can’t have it both ways. If we wish to bridge the gaps and reduce the hate speech on both sides of the political spectrum, someone must reach out to the other side.

Gabbard is clearly a Democrat, a progressive Democrat. Her policies embody all of the values that Democrats hold dear. In addition, she is the only candidate who sees the astronomical costs of the endless wars we wage, and, in her words, misguided “regime change attempts,” which are bankrupting us both financially and morally.

But all of her valid criticisms of the established policies, often policies being promoted by both parties (regime change wars, the “war on drugs”), are eclipsed in a political climate where dissent is not tolerated.

More than anything, Gabbard has been guilty of the crime of apostasy. Whether it’s independent thought now, criticisms of President Obama’s foreign policies, or her 2016 resignation as a vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee due to her desire to endorse Bernie Sanders, rather than the DNC’s favorite Hillary Clinton. (Might there, perhaps, be a connection between Hillary’s recent accusations of Gabbard being a Russian asset and Gabbard’s earlier support for Bernie?)

Tulsi Gabbard is not attacking the Democratic Party. Rather, she is attempting to address some of the deep flaws in how the Democrats have governed the nation, in particular, the hawkish foreign policy — perhaps the one point of agreement between Democratic and Republican administrations. She dares to speak up and represents a dissenting voice among the Democrats when it comes to foreign policy. For this, she is marginalized, called a Russian asset, accused of collaborating with Putin and Assad and a range of other libelous accusations.

Dissent is not tolerated in the Democratic Party and those who dare to criticize the party’s idols pay a heavy price. Strange state of affairs for a party that so emphasizes diversity and inclusion. It would appear that not all diversities are created equal. Diversity of political and policy opinions is certainly not encouraged.

It is truly unfortunate, for our country and for the world, that Tulsi’s ranking in the primaries reflects the persistent efforts by mainstream media to discredit her and her candidacy. This, of course, is not new. We only have to go back to 2016 and see what the main stream media did to Bernie’s campaign to see how ideas that don’t conform to the DNC mantras and threaten the status quo are handled by the main stream media.

Sadly, her current standing also reflects the fact that critical, independent, informed thought in America is becoming extinct.

Gabbard has the intellect, experience, knowledge and moral fortitude to be the next president and to effect real change in America. Not the type of change that brought us the first eight years of continuous wars ever under President Obama, but a change that would channel the trillions of dollars currently fueling the endless wars to repairs of our failing infrastructure and educational system, as well as to implementing a Medicare for All program and developing sustainable technologies.

Eva Hudlicka is a Democrat who lives in Amherst.

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