Early Life and Career
Tulsi Gabbard was born on April 12, 1981, in Leloaloa, American Samoa. She is of Samoan and European ancestry, and grew up in Hawaii. Gabbard was home-schooled through high school and was raised in a family that practiced the Hare Krishna faith.
At the age of 21, Gabbard became the youngest person ever elected to the Hawaii State Legislature. She served in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 2002 to 2004, and then again from 2006 to 2012. During her time in the legislature, she served as Vice Chair of the House Committee on Economic Development and Business Concerns, and Chair of the House Committee on Water, Land, and Ocean Resources.
In 2012, Gabbard was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district. She was the first Hindu member of Congress, and also the first Samoan-American and the first female combat veteran to serve in the U.S. Congress.
Political Career and Ideology
Tulsi Gabbard is a member of the Democratic Party and has been described as a progressive and a populist. She has been known for her stances on issues such as opposition to foreign military intervention, support for criminal justice reform, and advocating for environmental protection.
Gabbard has also been vocal about her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and her support for Medicare for All. In 2019, she introduced the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act, which aims to transition the U.S. to 100% clean energy by 2035.
Gabbard has been critical of her own party at times, particularly in regards to its foreign policy positions. She has been a vocal opponent of regime change wars and has called for an end to U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
Despite her progressive stances, Gabbard has faced criticism from some on the left for her past positions on social issues, particularly her opposition to same-sex marriage. However, she has since apologized for those positions and has been a vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights.
Controversies and Criticisms
Tulsi Gabbard has been the subject of several controversies and criticisms throughout her political career. One of the most prominent controversies was her meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2017. Gabbard faced criticism for meeting with a leader accused of war crimes and for seemingly legitimizing his regime.
Gabbard has also been criticized for her past anti-LGBTQ positions, particularly her work with her father’s anti-gay organization, The Alliance for Traditional Marriage. She has since apologized for those positions and has been a vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights.
Her past work for her father’s anti-gay organization and her anti-interventionist foreign policy positions have also raised questions about her association with far-right and white nationalist groups.
Additionally, Gabbard has faced criticism for her positions on Hindu nationalism and her ties to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been accused of promoting a Hindu nationalist agenda.
Gabbard’s decision to vote “present” on the impeachment of President Donald Trump in 2019 also drew criticism from both Democrats and Republicans.
Presidential Campaign and Endorsements
In January 2019, Tulsi Gabbard announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2020 election. Her campaign focused on issues such as ending regime change wars, addressing climate change, and criminal justice reform.
Despite gaining a loyal following and performing well in some early polls, Gabbard’s campaign failed to gain significant traction. She did not win any primaries or caucuses and ultimately suspended her campaign in March 2020, endorsing Joe Biden for President.
Gabbard’s endorsement of Biden was met with mixed reactions, with some of her supporters expressing disappointment and others appreciating her willingness to put party unity above her personal ambitions.
During her campaign, Gabbard received endorsements from some high-profile figures, including former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and comedian Joe Rogan. However, she also faced criticism from some Democrats and progressives for her foreign policy positions and her past controversial stances on social issues.
Current Activities and Future Plans
Since suspending her presidential campaign in 2020, Tulsi Gabbard has largely stayed out of the public eye. She has made occasional media appearances and has continued to be active on social media, where she has a large following.
In December 2020, Gabbard introduced the Protect Women’s Sports Act, a bill aimed at prohibiting transgender girls and women from participating in female sports. The bill has been criticized by LGBTQ advocates as discriminatory and unnecessary.
Gabbard has also expressed support for efforts to combat human trafficking and has been working on legislation aimed at addressing the issue.
As for her future plans, Gabbard has not announced whether she intends to run for public office again. She has hinted at the possibility of running for governor of Hawaii or for a Senate seat, but has not made any definitive statements.