A reader offers the following observations on Tulsi Gabbard, the crime of retroactive wrongthink, and liberal imperialism.
As someone who grew up deeply enmeshed in the Fox News Republican / “Christian conservative” milieu of the 90s/00s — and who then doubled down on the belief in war and American hegemony as a solution to the world’s problems as an explicit, self-described neocon in my mid-teens (I read Irving Kristol, Douglas Murray, Robert Kagan, etc.) — there are few (maybe no) things in contemporary American politics more disappointing to me than the lack of a principled anti-war left.
Imagine my dismay as I slowly realized over the course of Obama’s first term — as a newly-minted libertarian/anarchist, now strongly anti-war — that the idealistic, wimpy peacenik Left I had heard so much about and made fun of as a little Republican shit, didn’t really exist in America anymore, and that the anti-war protests I remembered from the Bush years were basically its last gasps of relevancy in the American political scene.
Everything since then (from Obama, etc.) has been lip-service to an inherited legacy they no longer deserve to be associated with.
Of the current crop of 2020 Dem candidates, it’s nice to hear Sanders speaking out against intervention in Venezuela (bringing up the history of American intervention in Latin America during the CNN town hall recently) or to speak out against America’s support of the Saudi regime’s war in Yemen. But can we really trust Sanders not to buckle if he were to become President, like Obama (and now Trump) before him?
And the one candidate who actually makes a less interventionist (not even completely non-interventionist) foreign policy a central plank of her campaign platform, Gabbard, faces either media criticism or blackout for those views (from the establishment Left) — or, perhaps even more crippling to her chances — absolute hatred and disavowal over anti-LGBT baggage from her past — such as her support for conversion therapy, and her calling civil union (not even gay marriage) advocates “homosexual extremists”.
Despite Gabbard’s views changing since then, it is telling that that cannot be forgiven (despite her totally reasonable excuse that she grew up in a very socially conservative household and, several steps further, was the daughter of a loony family values-type activist father). Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton style warmongering is not even something that needs to be forgiven or given much thought at all; in fact, liberal interventionism is now the default, respectable position of the Democratic mainstream.
Anyway. It’s a real shame. And it makes me sad.
Maybe something unexpected will happen once the debates start, and war will end up becoming a central question of the race as a whole (similar to how Trump essentially forced the topic of illegal immigration into center focus for the 2016 Republican primaries, which then forced the other candidates to either differentiate themselves from Trump’s anti-immigrant positions, or become more Trump-like themselves on that issue). I’m not going to hold my breath though.