U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is catching some heat for her “present” vote on President Donald Trump’s impeachment. She shouldn’t be, because this should have not have surprised anyone.
Gabbard has never been one to fall in line with a particular view because it was the one of her political party. She’s never been one to agree with someone because it was expected of her or because it was the popular thing to do. She is one who has strong convictions and, good or bad for her career, stands by them.
As the Associated Press pointed out: “Gabbard has defined her quixotic presidential bid with atypical positions. A military veteran still serving as an Army National Guard officer, she has blasted U.S. foreign policy and its bent to military intervention while also defending Trump and his cozy relationship with Russia. She used the Democratic presidential debate stage to aggressively attack California Sen. Kamala Harris. And she got into a caustic public back-and-forth with Hillary Clinton, the 2016 nominee.”
So, being the only one to vote “present” comes with the territory.
Gabbard comes across as knowledgeable, well-spoken and respected. She does not rattle. She does not back down. It’s how she earned her post in the House of Representatives. It’s how she has managed to stay in the game in her bid for the White House.
Here is what she said, in a statement she released Thursday. We are publishing her entire statement because we believe everyone should read it:
Throughout my life, whether through serving in the military or in Congress, I’ve always worked to do what is in the best interests of our country. Not what’s best for me politically or what’s best for my political party. I have always put our country first. One may not always agree with my decision, but everyone should know that I will always do what I believe to be right for the country that I love.
After doing my due diligence in reviewing the 658-page impeachment report, I came to the conclusion that I could not in good conscience vote either yes or no.
I am standing in the center and have decided to vote Present. I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing.
I also could not in good conscience vote for impeachment because removal of a sitting President must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country. When I cast my vote in support of the impeachment inquiry nearly three months ago, I said that in order to maintain the integrity of this solemn undertaking, it must not be a partisan endeavor. Tragically, that’s what it has been.
On the one side — The president’s defenders insist that he has done nothing wrong. They agree with the absurd proclamation that his conduct was “perfect.” They have abdicated their responsibility to exercise legitimate oversight, and instead blindly do the bidding of their party’s leader.
On the other side — The president’s opponents insist that if we do not impeach, our country will collapse into dictatorship. All but explicitly, they accuse him of treason. Such extreme rhetoric was never conducive to an impartial, fact-finding process.
The Founders of our country made clear their concerns about impeachment being a purely partisan exercise. In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton warned against any impeachment that would merely “connect itself with the pre-existing factions,” and “enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other.” In such cases, he said, “there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”
Donald Trump has violated public trust. Congress must be unequivocal in denouncing the president’s misconduct and stand up for the American people and our democracy. To this end, I have introduced a censure resolution that will send a strong message to this president and future presidents that their abuses of power will not go unchecked, while leaving the question of removing Trump from office to the voters to decide.
I am confident that the American people will decide to deliver a resounding rebuke of President Trump’s innumerable improprieties and abuses. And they will express that judgment at the ballot box. That is the way real and lasting change has always occurred in this great country: through the forcefully expressed will of the people.
A house divided cannot stand. And today we are divided. Fragmentation and polarity are ripping our country apart. This breaks my heart, and breaks the hearts of all patriotic Americans, whether we are Democrats, Republicans, or Independents.
So today, I come before you to make a stand for the center, to appeal to all of you to bridge our differences and stand up for the American people.
My vote today is a vote for much needed reconciliation and hope that together we can heal our country. Let’s work side-by-side, seeking common ground, to usher in a bright future for the American people and our nation.
She is calling on the country’s leaders “to bridge our differences” and “stand up for the American people.” She speaks of healing, working side-by-side and seeking common ground.
These are the words we should support. They are not divisive, angry words.
Of course, not everyone agrees with Gabbard. She quickly fell under attack. In a press release from Common Cause Hawaii, Executive Director Sandy Ma wrote that Gabbard “has shamed herself with her ‘present’ vote.”
“Rather than serve the people of Hawaii who elected her, Rep. Gabbard seems to be courting certain mainland voters and sensationalistic media attention for her flailing presidential campaign,” Ma said in the release.
Gabbard’s words are strong. They make sense. They are logical, reasonable, without emotion and without the usual political rancor. Her ‘present’ vote was the right one, and her words should be heeded.