Tulsi’s “present” votes on the two articles of impeachment against Trump were principled votes made as a protest against the hyper-partisanship that pervades the current Legislative and Executive branches of the US government, as well as politics in America in general.
Regardless of whether one agrees with the Tulsi’s votes, I think the votes were sincere and worthy of respect. All the more so because they have probably hurt her chances for the Democratic nomination for President. Tulsi has been an underdog from the moment she entered the race and it has been an uphill struggle, both from the standpoint of finances and public exposure/name recognition.
On top of that, Tulsi has had to deal with smear campaigns propagated by Hillary, Kamala, the DNC, and the media.
While Tulsi’s votes may come in handy should she become the Democratic nominee and especially if she becomes President, they are going to be a weight around her neck over the next few months. Here are some examples of what I mean…
“That’s just stupid! What is the point? I don’t know what this woman is accomplishing by that. I guess getting attention? We’re talking about her and really we shouldn’t spend any time talking about her. It’s not, frankly, relevant to anything.” — Claire McCaskill, former US Senator from Missouri
“Not sure how [Gabbard] can defend a ‘present’ vote on impeachment. One of the most consequential votes in any politician’s career and you can’t make a call one way or another? Why even be there, collecting a taxpayer-funded paycheck?” — Garrett Haake, MSNBC reporter
“She apparently can’t decide whether the president has shaken down the president of another country for his own political purposes. She hasn’t been able to decide whether that’s okay or not.” — Mazie Hirono, US Senator from Hawaii
“It makes her look indecisive and in some ways very weak. I don’t think that this helps her presidential aspirations at all.” — Basil Smike Jr., Democratic strategist
“What she did was literally show up and do nothing. I think this is a signal that she will not be a Democrat in the long term.” — Michael Starr Hopkins, contributor to The Hill
“Voting ‘present’ on the most consequential vote in our recent history — and probably in future history — seems like a very bad political decision at a minimum.” — Pramila Jayapal, US Representative from Washington
The votes makes “literally zip, zero, zilch sense” for either her congressional district or Democratic presidential primary aspirations. It was meant to be “disruptive.” “It’s absolutely purposeful to sow confusion and chaos.” — Jon Reinish, political strategist
“Because she’s running for president of the United States, I think if [Wednesday] was a test for who could be a good commander in chief, she got an F-plus. … Tulsi Gabbard stands the same chance of winning the Democratic nomination as I do of winning the NFL MVP. I mean, that ain’t happening. Her endgame is to be a famous Fox News commentator and go on there and bash Democrats all day. She speaks more harshly about Hillary Clinton than Bashar al Assad and Donald Trump.” — Bakari Sellers, former South Carolina state legislator
Gabbard’s vote was “about as pathetic as calling in sick.” — Philippe Reines, former adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
“I’m like, ‘Who has the hell voted — who’d do that?’ And then, of course, it quickly became apparent it was her. It’s totally unacceptable. … The biggest vote that the House took this year, obviously one of the biggest votes in our nation’s history, and half of the state of Hawaii was left voiceless because, in my opinion, it was a political stunt.” — Kai Kehele, State Senator from Hawaii
It is likely that Tulsi foresaw this inevitable heat as she was contemplating casting her votes. It is likely that none of what is being said is causing her too much angst or making her regret her votes. If anything, I suspect she is thinking it merely confirms her views about how poisonous the political climate has grown. Indeed, why does politics have to always be a zero sum game? Either you are with me or you are against me? There can be no middle ground?
As Tulsi said of her votes, “It was an active protest against the terrible fallout of this zero-sum mindset that the two opposing political parties have trapped America in.” For that reason alone, the votes may well have been worth it.
The challenge now will be for Tulsi and her supporters to find ways to turn this new-found notoriety into her advantage. As ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd noted, the ‘present’ vote’ was “about the worst decision you can make in this important moment in history. How does she run in the Democratic primary after this?”
Of course, the other challenge will be to prepare well for the onslaught that will come at her from every direction at the next debate, assuming she qualifies for it and decides to attend.
Ahhh, but victory will be all that much sweeter when it comes.