Thursday, June 6, 2019

Tulsi Gabbard: A Libertarian Assessment

Robert Wenzel with
Tulsi Gabbard
By Robert Wenzel

Among those in attendance in San Francisco, last weekend at the California Democratic Party Convention seeking the Democratic Party presidential nomination was Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. She has caught the eye of many libertarians for what appears to be her very strong anti-war position.

So I paid particular attention to her during the convention and later attended a private event put on by her campaign.

The good news about her convention speech was that she spent more time talking about her anti-war position than anything else. She warned about warmongering "neo-libs and neo-cons." She talked about the dangers of a new cold war and the potential for a nuclear catastrophe. She closed by asking conventioneers to help her "bend the arc of history away from war."

As far as the other points she made, well, she was good on calling for a crackdown on national intelligent agencies and an end to the war on drugs. Other than that, there wasn't much for a libertarian to cheer about. She said she was in favor of Medicare for all, reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act, a breakup of tech companies and a "green century."

That said, she seems very sincere about her anti-war position and it is her anti-war position and sincerity that seem to be what attracts her supporters.

I talked to a number at the convention who were wearing pro-Tulsi gear and there were three themes among them. There were veterans and others who were anti-war, others who took notice of her when she resigned her position in the Democratic Party committee in principle to support Bernie Sanders. And much to my surprise, there were also a number of supporters who had previously lived in her district in Hawaii and they just raved about her and said she could be always counted on.

They told stories of a volcano eruption where breathing masks were in short supply and she made sure enough were shipped in for all and that she would go up in a helicopter and report live via radio to residences about the direction  of lava flows, which they appreciated because they were required to leave the area and, of course, they were wondering about their own homes.

But anti-war supporter or former district constituent, across the board, they all singled out her sincerity.

That said, she is polling under 1% in the Democratic presidential polls and she didn't pick up any supporters at the convention. I thought her speech was too cerebral without proper imagery. Her speechwriter failed her.

Here is her speech, just listen to it, that convention hall was filled with over 5,000 people. You could hear a pin drop.

Compare the crowd at her speech to that of Cory Booker, a master orator, who spoke the next day when the crowd was down by 40%. It is a little difficult to tell, you can hear some more cheering, but by the end of his speech on the convention floor, you could tell he had that crowd totally cranked up.


So here is the thing, she is in the first two debates but she will have to do well enough to poll at 2% or higher to be in the third debate in September.

I don't know if she can do it. Her only real unique position is the anti-war position, which is important to libertarians but who else? It isn't getting her to 2% yet. The debate national TV audience will help her get better exposure so maybe it will lift her numbers, but on the lefty issues that she holds there is not anything to differentiate her from the pack.

I think her best shot is to differentiate herself on other issues besides war that won't tank her with the nutty left but help expand her base to catch the voters now supporting Joe Biden. My view is that Biden won't survive through the primaries, he will make too many mental flubs.

Gabbard can pick those voters up by being shrewd and positioning on topics such as Social Security that no one is talking about.

Social Security trustees themselves admit that, as things stand, in the future Social Security won't be able to guarantee full benefits for current retirees.

Social Security will be insolvent in only 16 years. The Trustees project that on a theoretical combined basis, the trust funds will run out by 2035. That means the program will be insolvent when today’s 51-year-olds reach the retirement age and today’s youngest retirees turn 78. At that point, all beneficiaries will face a 20 percent across-the-board benefit cut, which will grow to 25 percent over time.

This is the kind of issue that would resonate with a lot of primary voters, even the young if she positions the threat and solution correctly (Ahem, I have thoughts on a solution).  Tulsi could have this group all to herself since no one else is talking about it and I can't think of a more important issue for those dependent on SS checks.

There are other issues along this type that Tulsi could have all too herself. If she is smart.

I am making tiny inroads to try and get this point across so we shall see.

As it stands now, she is better on war than anyone else but pretty bad on everything else. But I don't know any of any other candidate better on any issues.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of and Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank and most recently Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. More about Wenzel here.


  1. War is the Health of the state. The number one role of the president is on foreign policy. All the domestic issues must pass through Congress.

  2. If, as President, the ONLY thing she accomplished was to end all our foreign engagements, occupations and "wars," then she'd be the greatest President in my life time, and probably in over 100 years. Think of how massively beneficial that would be for liberty at home, for the health of the economy, for the rehab of the global goodwill toward America, etc...

  3. The heck with AOC. We should be trying to turn Tulsi since she is already solid on foreign interventionism and marijuana legalization.