Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org
There are several reasons why the progressive Tulsi Gabbard stands an extraordinarily good likelihood of repeating the extraordinary achievement of the progressive Abraham Lincoln.
The electoral defeat of a liberal Hillary Clinton in 2016, and the widespread recognition of the fact that a progressive Bernie Sanders as the Democratic candidate would have stood a far higher probability of beating Donald Trump than Clinton did, combines with an equally widespread recognition that the Democratic Party’s corrupted leadership by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton brought enormous harm to the Democratic Party by actually cheating the stronger and more progressive candidate Sanders out of the Party’s nomination, so that competition has already begun within the Democratic Party, to determine whom the Party should nominate in 2020 to run against President Donald Trump. There is no longer an incumbent (such as Obama), nor his chosen successor (such as was the former Secretary of State, Clinton), to dominate the Democratic field in 2020 (as was the case in 2016); and yet even Sanders himself — who in 2016 was more preferred to become President than was any other of the twenty major-Party candidates — would likely be too old for some of his 2016 voters to support again in 2020. Many Democratic voters will be looking for “new blood” — a progressive like Sanders, but one whose remaining life-expectancy will extend well beyond two terms as the U.S. President.
Clinton is simply out of the running because of her failure and because of the clear harms that she has already done to the Party (losing across-the-board: Presidency, Senate, House, governorships, and state houses); and yet Sanders is still considered as a possibility, although he would be 79 years old in 2020 and is therefore unlikely to be chosen. The field is wide open this time around, not at all like it was in 2016.
Attention thus has begun to be focused upon the young progressive who nominated Sanders at the Democratic National Convention on 26 July 2016: U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. One of the chief arguments that are presented against her as being a Presidential candidate in 2020 (if she won’t already by that time have become a U.S. Senator) is that she is “only” a member of the large U.S. House of Representatives, and not a member of the far smaller, and yet more powerful, U.S. Senate — nor is she a state governor (which post, along with that of being a Senator, have traditionally been the two preferred springboards into the White House). But her being “only” a Representative is not actually a disqualifier.
There were two U.S. Representatives who ran for the White House and who won, and one of those two was possibly the greatest U.S. President ever: the progressive Abraham Lincoln in 1860. (The other was James Garfield, 20 years later.) Also like Lincoln, who staked out and led a stunningly courageous progressive political position on the central political issue of his time, Tulsi Gabbard has staked out and led a stunningly courageous progressive political position on what is perhaps the central political issue of our time.
This young progressive might therefore repeat what Lincoln did.
Abraham Lincoln went from being one of Illinois’ Representatives in Congress, directly to becoming (according to historians in our time) tied with the progressive Franklin Delano Roosevelt as having been the greatest American President.
The progressive Illinois Representative Lincoln became a U.S. President because he displayed the extraordinarily rare moral courage, as a U.S. Presidential candidate, to condemn the most evil conservative tradition in his time, slavery, that had been cursing this country for decades, ever since America’s founding in the Constitution of 1787 — the nation’s founding document that accepted slavery, and that thus granted slave-owners an additional three-fifths or 60% of representation in Congress, for each and every slave that they owned; or, as wikipedia describes the net impact of the Constitution’s Three-Fifths Clause, “The effect was to give the southern states a third more seats in Congress and a third more electoral votes than if slaves had been ignored, but fewer than if slaves and free persons had been counted equally, allowing the slaveholder interests [the slave-owners] to largely dominate the government of the United States until 1861.” Lincoln broke the stranglehold that the slaveholding Southern aristocracy (and their backers amongst the northern aristocrats) had held, during the nation’s early decades, over the U.S. government. Lincoln broke the dictatorship of the slave-owners (and of their northern bankers and slave-merchants — after all, those suppliers to the slave-market had benefited considerably from the added clout that the Three-Fifths Clause was providing to their customers, and which had helped continue and even expand the slaving tradition: the buying of slaves, from those slavers).
The progressive Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard similarly displays extraordinarily rare moral courage, hers being to condemn the most evil conservative tradition of our time: she condemns the U.S. military-industrial complex’s decades-long stranglehold, ever since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, over the U.S. government — the dictatorship that the weapons-corporations such as Lockheed Martin have over the U.S. federal government after the Cold War had ended on the Russian side, in 1991, and after Russia’s communism had ended and its Warsaw Pact military alliance to defend against America’s NATO alliance, also both ended in 1991, on Russia’s side, but the Cold War did not really end on America’s side. The Cold War continues, even today, on the American side, because of the stranglehold of the U.S. military-industrial complex over our government, which expands (instead of ends) its anti-Russian military alliance, NATO, even after that alliance’s very reason-for-being — the communist threat — had ceased a full quarter-century ago.
As Gabbard has courageously expressed this matter, regarding specifically the very hot issue of America’s participation in the war in Syria, when speaking on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, on 8 December 2016:
Ms. GABBARD. Mr. Speaker, under U.S. law, it is illegal for you or me or any American to provide any type of assistance to al Qaeda, ISIS, or other terrorist groups. If we broke this law, we would be thrown in jail. Yet the U.S. Government has been violating this law for years, directly and indirectly supporting allies and partners of groups like al Qaeda and ISIS with money, weapons, intelligence, and other support in their fight to overthrow the Syrian Government.
A recent New York Times article confirmed that “rebel groups” supported by the U.S. “have entered into battlefield alliances with the affiliate of al Qaeda in Syria, formerly known as Al Nusra.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that rebel grounds are “doubling down on their alliance” with al Qaeda. This alliance has rendered the phrase “moderate rebels” meaningless. We must stop this madness. We must stop arming terrorists.
I am introducing the Stop Arming Terrorists Act today to prohibit taxpayer dollars from being used to support terrorists.
She would refocus our military against jihadists, instead of against Russians.
Rather than asserting such a hateful conservative lie as “Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe,” Gabbard was saying that jihadists in all countries (and implicitly thereby, the aristocracies, such as the Sauds, that fund them) are that. (But, of course, America’s military-industrial complex sells lots more weapons if nuclear war is the goal than if killing terrorists is the goal — so, they can’t support a candidate such as Gabbard, who prefers to defend the American people, instead of to sell weapons.) And not only was she asserting that Russia’s ally Syria was defending itself against the jihadists, as the U.S. itself is, but she was asserting that our country, the United States, has actually been supporting those jihadists because they’re trying to overthrow Syria’s anti-jihadist government, which is supported by Russia. She was interviewed hostilely by both the liberal newsmedia and the conservative newsmedia — both Democrats and Republicans — and was condemned especially by the Democratic Party’s leadership — for her leading this anti-aristocratic position, and for her displaying this moral courage, even in the face of the aristocracy who buy ‘electoral’ wins, such as seats in Congress, and ultimately buy even America’s Presidencies, the people who occupy the U.S. White House.
(As regards Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s famous assertion that “Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe,” the only sense in which that statement is even conceivably realistic is that the settlement at the end of the Soviet Union in 1991 was for the U.S. and Russia to have a balanced level of mutual-deterrence nuclear forces: the concept of maintaining Mutually Assured Destruction, or “MAD,” which had prevented another world war, was to continue, to the mutual benefits of both sides, and of the entire world. But that is very different from continued mutual hostility and a nuclear-arms race, such as the neoconservatives (all the way from John McCain to Hillary Clinton) want. After the end of the Soviet Union, that costly arms-race wasn’t supposed to continue. George Herbert Walker Bush and his agents all assured Mikhail Gorbachev that the Cold War would be over if communism ended and the Warsaw Pact ended. The U.S. aristocracy just doesn’t want to fulfill its side of that bargain — they lied; they want conquest.)
As I look at the viewer-comments that are posted on all of those videos of Gabbard presenting this position — a position which is rejected by all of the U.S. Establishment — I get the impression that her position wins such broad public support, that Representative Gabbard would, if she becomes the Democratic Party’s nominee for President in 2020, sweep the White House and the Senate and the House, and become, as Abraham Lincoln was in the 1860s, a President who would, temporarily, conquer America’s aristocracy, which this time owns the giant ‘defense’ oligopoly firms, instead of owns the most slaves.
Here, for example, was a typical statement from Lincoln — the first and only progressive Republican President (the only one, because his Party got taken over by the U.S. aristocracy immediately after he was shot dead in 1865); it’s dated 3 December 1861:
Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital, producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and that few avoid labor themselves, and, with their capital, hire or buy another few to labor for them. A large majority belong to neither class — neither work for others, nor have others working for them. In most of the southern States, a majority of the whole people of all colors are neither slaves nor masters; while in the northern a large majority are neither hirers nor hired. Men with their families — wives, sons, and daughters — work for themselves, on their farms, in their houses, and in their shops, taking the whole product to themselves, and asking no favors of capital on the one hand, nor of hired laborers or slaves on the other. It is not forgotten that a considerable number of persons mingle their own labor with capital — that is, they labor with their own hands, and also buy or hire others to labor for them; but this is only a mixed, and not a distinct class. No principle stated is disturbed by the existence of this mixed class.
Again: as has already been said, there is not, of necessity, any such thing as the free hired laborer being fixed to that condition for life. Many independent men everywhere in these States, a few years back in their lives, were hired laborers. The prudent, penniless beginner in the world, labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself; then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This is the just, and generous, and prosperous system, which opens the way to all — gives hope to all, and consequent energy, and progress, and improvement of condition to all. No [Page 53] men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty — none less inclined to take, or touch, aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which, if surrendered, will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they, and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them, till all of liberty shall be lost.
Here was a typical statement from Gabbard, this one condemning the then Democratic President Barack Obama’s hyper-conservative (or extremely pro-aristocracy) proposed TPP commercial treaty with Pacific-Rim countries:
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: ITC’s Report Confirms TPP is A Bad Deal for the American People
May 20, 2016 Press Release
Washington, DC—Today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, released the following statement after the International Trade Commission (ITC) released a report on the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s (TPP) projected impact on the U.S. economy:
“The International Trade Commission report confirms what we have known all along—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement is a bad deal for the American people. We’ve heard from TPP proponents how the TPP will boost our economy, help American workers, and set the standards for global trade. The ITC’s report tells us the opposite is true. In exchange for just 0.15 percent boost in GDP by 2032, the TPP would decimate American manufacturing capacity, increase our trade deficit, ship American jobs overseas, and result in losses to 16 of the 25 U.S. economic sectors. These estimates don’t even account for the damaging effects of currency manipulation, which is not addressed in the deal, environmental impacts, and the agreement’s deeply flawed Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) process that empowers foreign corporations to supersede our sovereignty and domestic rule of law. This report further proves that the TPP is worse than we thought, and will benefit Wall Street banks and multinational corporations on the backs of hard-working Americans and our economy.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard strongly opposed “fast-track” Trade Promotion Authority when it came before the House last year and has continued to speak out against the TPP. Earlier this year, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, Rosa DeLauro and other lawmakers released a joint op-ed on why the American people deserve better than the TPP.
Gabbard’s anti-TPP position, and her anti anti-Russia position, happen actually to be intimately connected, because a major motivation for Obama’s geostrategy behind all three of his mega-‘trade’ deals — TPP, TTIP, and TISA, all three of which were greatly facilitated by Congress’s passage of “Fast Track” — had also been designing it so as to exclude both Russia and China (as well as the other BRICS countries) from belonging to any of these proposed huge trading-blocs. TPP, TTIP, and TISA, were thus intended actually as huge collective acts of “trade war.” For example: “TISA involves 51 countries, including every advanced economy except the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa).” The U.S. aristocracy are like a giant boa-constrictor, with an unlimited appetite for conquest, and they cannot succeed without their alliances with the aristocracies of other nations. Gabbard repeatedly has said that she wants to do everything she can to help “ending our country’s interventionist regime-change war policies.” A progressive believes that being more aggressive isn’t necessarily being stronger, but can (and often does) cause a nation to become weaker, and less prosperous — even if not for its aristocrats, who thrive by invading other lands.
Both Lincoln and Gabbard are Representatives (and, in Lincoln’s case, subsequently a President) who courageously waged ideological battle for the public, against the aristocracy — they were/are progressives. The main difference between them is that the aristocracy today wages its warfare against the public differently than it did in 1860. Whereas nowadays it derives the biggest source of its power from selling weaponry and energy and disease-care products and financial services (including to U.S. soldiers), in Lincoln’s time it was selling slaves and the products of slaves. So, today’s government has been designed for the ‘defense’ firms, whereas until 1860 it was designed for the slaving firms.
Though the times have changed, the basic ideological struggle remains basically the same as it always has been: the aristocracy versus the public. And, like Representative Abraham Lincoln did in the 1850s, Representative Tulsi Gabbard in our time has been making very clear, by her courageous actions and statements, on which side of the ideological divide she stands. It’s the same side that Sanders himself stood on: the progressive side. He would be terrific — in her Cabinet, or in her White House: like William H. Seward was, to Abraham Lincoln.
PS: Anyone who doubts the moral courage, the highest form of patriotism, that has been demonstrated by this devoted public servant, should consider that, on 14 March 2016, when the viciousness of Barack Obama’s treachery to replace the secular Russia-allied Syrian government by a jihadist Saudi-controlled government was being hidden by all of the U.S. press and was being supported by the entire U.S. aristocracy, Gabbard was the only Democrat, and was joined by only two courageous Republicans (Amash and Massie), voting in the U.S. House of Representatives against the pro-jihadist “BILL TITLE: Expressing the sense of the Congress condemning the gross violations of international law amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Government of Syria, its allies, and other parties to the conflict in Syria” (also called “Condemning Violations of Law by the Government of Syria”), which one-sided condemnation (against only Syrian government forces) pretended that jihadists, whom Barack Obama called ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria, represented American values, and represented these values more than did the existing non-sectarian government of Syria. Gabbard had the guts, as a rare decent Democrat, to vote there against the then-U.S. President, Obama, who was of her own Democratic Party — the President who wanted Congress’s support for his escalating war against Russia, on the battlefields of Syria, based all on lies. No other House Democrat joined her in voting against this condemnation. A measure like this can, if passed (and the vote in this case was 392 to 3), subsequently be cited by a President who is seeking congressional authorization to go to war. So: it’s a step toward war — a war on the side of jihadists, against an ally of Russia. In 2014, 98% of Congress had voted for a measure which would almost certainly have led to war against Russia. A President Hillary Clinton might have taken that bait, but the actual President, Obama, did not. In Congress, both Parties want war against any ally of Russia. Naturally, that could lead to a war against Russia. Russia’s patience with U.S. (and NATO) aggression has a limit. Perhaps Gabbard will wake Americans up to how dangerous America’s aggression can turn out to be. If she has the courage to do that, then would anything be able to block her from becoming President? And considering what happened to Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, it would require a lot of physical courage, too. Who else but she would be up to the challenge?
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.