Why conservatives love Tulsi Gabbard so much

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There is a Democratic candidate running for president right now, and she is very liberal.


At a press conference where she stood next to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, this candidate made clear that she supports a Green New Deal. This candidate is also firmly pro-choice, has a 100 percent voting record with both Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, and has called for federal funding for abortions.


She called for “decriminalizing an individual’s choice to use whatever substances that are there,” which is a clever way of saying she wants to legalize the use of even hard drugs, calling the drug war a failure.


Calling health care “a right, not a privilege,” she was a cosponsor of the Medicare for All Act, and talks at length of her desire to provide universal, government-funded health care to everyone in America.


She is also very critical of the Trump administration’s foreign policy, saying that his trade confrontation with China is causing “ravaging and devastating effects,” the pullout of troops in Syria is leading to the wholesale slaughter of the Kurds, and the killing of Qasem Soleimani was an act of war and a violation of the Constitution.


She even endorsed Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in 2016.


You might think that these positions belong to somebody who sends conservatives shrieking for the hills like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.


But the positions don’t belong to Warren. They belong to a Democratic woman that conservatives love, respect and even admire. They belong to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.


It is a bit bewildering, when you think about it. Why is it that conservative pundits, writers and everyday voters say so many nice things about Gabbard, and seem to genuinely like her so much, when they revile people like Warren, when they have very similar positions on issues?


The answer is actually quite simple, and a tweet she sent out on Monday summarizes why in a nutshell.


After conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh announced on the air that he has been diagnosed with an advanced form of lung cancer, Gabbard tweeted warm wishes to him. “To Rush Limbaugh,” she began, “I and my family send our love and best wishes to you and your loved ones at this difficult moment in your life. May your hearts and minds be filled with and strengthened by God’s love.”


While much of liberal Twitter exploded with celebrations of his impending death, and expressed glee that he was going to suffer while shouting “good riddance,” Gabbard did the human thing.


Gabbard doesn’t treat us like we are the enemy. To her, conservatives are not idiots, knuckle-dragging primitives, or deplorables who aren’t evolved enough to understand how much smarter she is than us.


She believes virtually nothing that we do, yet she isn’t hostile about her disagreement, and treats us with warmth and friendship.


And beyond that, she has enough integrity and confidence to occasionally register her disagreement with icons of her own party, and stand up respectfully for a firmly held principle of hers against the ever-shifting party orthodoxy she is expected to bend the knee to.


For me, that is all that I ask. You don’t need to agree with me, or even see the world like I do, but if you can be honest and consistent with yourself while treating me like an intelligent and thoughtful human being who is your peer rather than your inferior, then I will like and respect you.


This basic approach, more than anything else, is the solution to the increasingly bitter and divided country that we live in today. As more anger, resentment and mistrust festers across this country, one simple change in mindset could disarm it all.


The world, and politics of every kind, could use a hell of a lot more Tulsi Gabbards.


Matthew Gagnon of Yarmouth is the chief executive officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a free market policy think tank based in Portland. A Hampden native, he previously served as a senior strategist for the Republican Governors Association in Washington, D.C.

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