There are many polarizing people in the world of politics, and one member of the US House of Representatives that certainly fits that description is Tulsi Gabbard. Gabbard has been a member of the United States Army since 2003, joining after becoming a state representative in Hawaii. In 2013, Gabbard made her way to Washington D.C. after becoming the Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd District until 2021.
Since then, Gabbard has been one of the more well-known politicians thanks to a decently long run at the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. In 2022, though, Gabbard changed her political affiliation, dropping the (D) from her name and serving as an independent. As a result, she’s changed some of her policies and is seen as a bit of a controversial figure. Let’s look at five of her policies that have created a lot of responses from both sides.
In 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine and it sparked a worldwide response. In the United States, just about everyone on the left side of the aisle was in favor of sanctioning Russia and supporting Ukraine in any way possible. Even a vast majority of those on the right agreed, but there were still some politicians like Gabbard that didn’t really want to take the side of Ukraine during the war.
Gabbard has even been to Russia during the conflict, seemingly showing support for Vladimir Putin. “This war and suffering could have easily been avoided if Biden Admin/NATO had simply acknowledged Russia’s legitimate security concerns regarding Ukraine’s becoming a member of NATO,” Gabbard tweeted. “Which would mean US/NATO forces right on Russia’s border.” Instantly, many called her a Putin sympathizer, rubbing both sides of the aisle the wrong way.
There have been plenty of politicians that have changed their opinion on the LGBT community since the 1990s, but not many have continued to go back and forth the way that Gabbard has in the past couple of decades, though. Early on in her career, Gabbard was vehemently against gay marriage being legally recognized and even protested against it.
It wasn’t until the early 2010s that Gabbard changed her stance, and even became a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus in Congress. Ever since then, though, Gabbard has shown both support and opposition to the LGBT community. In 2022, she supported the controversial Parental Rights Bill in Florida, leading many to believe she never truly changed her opinion.
Throughout her time as a Democrat, Gabbard frequently voted with the Republicans many times when it came to immigration. As a Congresswoman, Gabbard supported increased vetting of refugees from Middle Eastern countries and was in favor of beefing up the security on the US-Mexico border.
When the idea of a large border wall was introduced, Gabbard was in favor. “What’s at the heart of this is we have Democrats and Republicans, frankly, in Congress who are failing at their most basic and foremost responsibility,” Gabbard said. “Which is to ensure the safety, security, and freedom of the American people, and that starts with securing our border.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Tulsi Gabbard was in favor of a vaccine being developed to help combat the spread of the virus. However, she was not too happy with who was able to get the vaccine. After first responders were given top priority, Gabbard said that it should have been elderly people first.
“They’re recommending 100 million ‘essential workers’ (i.e. healthy people working at liquor stores or phone companies) can get the vaccine before our grandparents,” Gabbard said. With that, she refused her vaccine until elderly people got theirs. It’s unclear if she ever received the vaccine, and has slammed vaccine mandates in the United States.
Gabbard has sided with Republicans on a lot of things over the past few years, but she has remained incredibly left-leaning when it comes to the legalization of drugs. Gabbard has been adamant about the legalization of recreational marijuana and also wanted to put an end to cash bail and private prisons.
Gabbard even went more extreme than many Democrats on the issue, saying that all drugs should be legalized and regulated. Gabbard pointed to the country of Portugal, which has decriminalized all drugs. In the first 18 years of Portugal’s program, the country saw near-eradication of overdose deaths and HIV cases (from injection), while the arrests for drug-related offenses were reduced to less than ⅓ of what they were.