Gabbard makes correct call with ‘present’ vote

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.

29 Comments
  1. Steven McMacken December 20, 2019 5:28 am Reply

    Mr. Buley, you state that “Gabbard has never been one to fall in line with a particular view because it was the one of her political party.” First of all, it is not simply a “view,” as you so characterize it. The facts surrounding the case against President Trump are not open to interpretation. There was overwhelming evidence that the president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to discredit a political opponent. This is not only immoral, it is a violation of the Constitution of the United States and it is an impeachable offense.

    Strong convictions aside, Tulsa Gabbard shirked her duty as a representative of the Hawaiian people by not voting for impeachment.


  2. Steven McMacken December 20, 2019 7:05 am Reply

    “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
    — Desmond Tutu

    “Present.”
    —Tulsi Gabbard


  3. Kalola Kaunakakai December 20, 2019 7:09 am Reply

    Seriously? She says: “My vote today is a vote for much needed reconciliation and hope that together we can heal our country”. The impeachment vote was not about reconciliation of the country—it was about whether president abused his power and obstructed Congress. By failing to to hold the president accountable, she failed to represent us as her constituents who she never reached out to even ask. We in the second congressional district need a representative who will actually serve the district rather than his or her own self-interests.


  4. Darryl Perry December 20, 2019 8:34 am Reply

    It takes moral courage to stand up to Trump and his supporters who are an embarrassment to the framers and to everyone who stood strong for the Constitution’s patriotic principles. Tulsi should have honored her oath of office to defend and protect these ideals. She did neither, but instead voted “present,” which is a total abdication of her responsibilities as an elected official.

    The late Representative Elijah Cummings would have been very proud of those who took their oath of office seriously and voted to impeach. At times like this I often think of Civil War soldier Sullivan Ballou who wrote a letter to his wife Sarah explaining how much he loved her but his love for country tied him to the battle field to fight for this country and our Constitution. Sullivan died for his country a short time later at the first battle of Bullrun.

    His scarifies and others like him should always be at the forefront of our thoughts to remove a morally and ethically corrupt President who does not represent the best in Americans. And by not voting for impeachment, whether she believes it or not, Tulsi continues to encourage this kind of deviant behavior.

    Tulsi, you owe an apology to everyone who voted and supported you.


  5. kauaidoug December 20, 2019 9:12 am Reply

    No mention of the fact that Trump reached out the very next day to ask a foreign government to meddle in our elections!!! Bye Bye Tulsi


  6. Makani B. Howard December 20, 2019 9:47 am Reply

    She couldn’t vote either way because she didn’t want to hurt either side, the left or the right.

    She needs to take a stand.

    That’s what strong leadership is about!


  7. William Perri December 20, 2019 10:20 am Reply

    I totally disagree with Mr. Burley. Tulsi Gabbard is an opportunist and a “closet” Republican. She probably thinks that this will get her some government job within a Republican administration. As of now she has no where else to go.


  8. stacey December 20, 2019 11:54 am Reply

    As a teacher, I am often in the position of asking students for a response to a question. I tell the students the only bad response is no response. Or, when choosing between dodge ball or kick ball, if they don’t vote for something they can’t complain about the results. This is a quote attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, “In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best this is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing”.
    Thanks for the teachable moment, Tulsi.


  9. kauaiboy December 20, 2019 1:39 pm Reply

    Tulsi better hope that Trump wins in 2020 and that he decides she needs a plum job.

    Otherwise, her political career is over. Democratically, she is toast.


  10. Robin Clark December 20, 2019 2:09 pm Reply

    Former Senator Claire McCaskill said it best about Tulsi Gabbard’s non-vote: “That’s just stupid” and “What is the point.” If you believe Trump is guilty you vote to impeach. If you believe he is not guilty you don’t vote to impeach. But to state that he is guilty and not vote to impeach shows complete lack of moral character and is a disservice to those of us Gabbard purports to represent. Perhaps there is a reason she is referred to as “Tulski” in Washington circles.


  11. Pete Antonson December 20, 2019 3:34 pm Reply

    She deserves a “nonparticipation” trophy which will always be somehow unavailable!


  12. Not A December 20, 2019 3:56 pm Reply

    Not a leader. You can’t make a decision and just vote present is not what we need in this country.

    The SAD part is that when I requested her to help create a lunch break law for the state of Hawaii, she refused to help.

    I did so only after I wrote letters to county council on Kauai and Oahu and also state representatives and none replied but Gabbard.

    Her office wrote that it is state law and I should contact state officials but her office failed to look at the email addresses attached that included Achatz, Hirono, and at least half of the state politicians.

    This was in due part of an abusive act by a former employer to ensure that I did not receive a lunch break on multiple occasions while working over the 6 1/2 hour company policy. The abuser wrote that there is no federal or state lunch break law to justify his actions.

    HCRC is a lame duck worthless organization that is a waste of taxpayers monies. They actually sabotaged my claim and refused to subpoena time card evidence to validate or invalidate my claim.

    OSHA substantiated my claim as a retaliation and asked me if I wanted my job back at the location where the retaliation occurred. I said no and they closed the case.

    Gabbard is NOT A LEADER who makes tough choices. She cannot be in a leadership position because she will not support veterans.

    Respectfully,

    Veteran of the Army (active duty), Army reserves, and army national guard.


  13. HanaleiRed December 20, 2019 4:27 pm Reply

    I am behind Tulsi 100% She has been an awesome representative in Hawai`i, a wonderful representative in Congress (I lost count of all the bills she has introduced or sponsored which benefits us), and has served this country as a soldier, honorably.
    I trust her judgment, and applaud her for standing up to the obviously corrupt status quo.


  14. Chickenlady December 20, 2019 6:26 pm Reply

    Way to protect your future job as a contributor at Fox, Tulsi.


  15. harry oyama December 20, 2019 7:22 pm Reply

    All these out of control emotions of retribution and revenge are not responses that any civilized organization displays in order to properly govern its own political future, but rather a dangerous path to riots and self destruction of this nation.

    The intelligence agencies are fully aware that Russia and China will exploit this division among America’s main two party system and to make sure that public opinion remains divided and explosive so that the long predicted breakup of America takes place and we are no longer the beacon of democratic hope in this world.

    Tulsi Gabbard knows all too well how dangerous it is so did the most humane logical approach but not voting yes or not, but present. To stand in the middle ground where these two opposing views must meet to compromise and render a resolution that ensures this nation remains intact. Gabbard did the right thing and I support her actions.


  16. truth be known December 21, 2019 8:33 am Reply

    Obviously the people posting all the negative comments failed to read this part of Tulsi’s message that states “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.” While the majority of Democrats were hell-bent on impeachment which will have no chance of passing the Senate and thus becoming a waste of time and money, Tulsi is proposing censure which may actually have a credible chance of passing.


    1. Chickenlady December 21, 2019 2:32 pm Reply

      If Tulsi really believed that impeachment was wrong, she should have voted “no.” That she could not vote yay or nay (and explain it) says she does not belong in a leadership position.


  17. harry oyama December 21, 2019 10:02 am Reply

    Tulsi rub the salt in those brain-washed Democrats who talk so much about patriotism, yet the very agenda they are pushing for weakens the very foundation of this nation. Besides a vast majority of Democrats in Congress are morally corrupt and rotten to the core.

    Tulsi Gabbard is a welcomed addition to these “locked in step” beat of the war mongering Hillary Clinton’s grip on the DNC marching this country off the cliff into destruction.


    1. Pete Antonson December 21, 2019 2:03 pm Reply

      Wow, a trump supporter who is concerned about moral corruption; but, is still a trump supporter! What a perfect example of cognitive dissonance!


    2. Words December 21, 2019 2:36 pm Reply

      Does harry oyama speak for everyone or just those he hates?


  18. HanaleiRed December 21, 2019 10:47 am Reply

    In an emailed statement from her presidential campaign, Gabbard explained her vote and lambasted both parties. “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,” she wrote.

    “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.”


  19. hutch December 21, 2019 4:53 pm Reply

    I hope she runs as an independent and siphons off Democrat votes from the cast of clowns currently running. Trump winning again would be like the Road Runner defeating Wile-E. Pelosi yet again! Pelosi’s Acme Impeachment Scheme will hang around her neck for the rest of her sorry life.


    1. hitch December 22, 2019 12:55 pm Reply

      It’s good you have a dream


  20. Ginger Doll December 22, 2019 3:42 am Reply

    Does her thinking reflect her status as a war veteran?
    They don’t win and they done lose. But for 18 years they continue being “present” in Afghanistan.


  21. Mark Beeksma December 23, 2019 7:54 am Reply

    Great article Bill!
    While I have great respect for Tulsi, she misses the point on Donald Trump. The whole question of whether his phone call was appropriate hinges on the question of whether the Bidens were engaged in corruption that compromised the US.
    While partisans say the Bidens are innocent, no one is disputing the facts that prove they were engaged in corruption. Hunter Biden admitted that he received millions of dollars for his advice because he was a Biden. No one can make a case that Hunter had any expertise that would justify millions of dollars for his advice to an energy company in the Ukraine.
    Joe Biden bragged about forcing the Ukraine to protect Hunter’s corrupt company.
    The Democrats are living in a kind of parallel universe. Both Joe and Hunter have admitted to the facts that prove their corruption. Yet, when our President tries to expose this corruption, they impeach him.
    The Democrats could have made up any charges against Trump. It is quite telling that they decided to impeach him because he was talking about exposing admitted corruption by a Democratic VP. I guess that makes perfect sense. If Joe Biden’s level of corruption were exposed, it would not bode well for the Democrat party.
    Tulsi is a voice of reason. But she still needs to come to terms with the level of corruption in her own party.


    1. Pete Antonson December 23, 2019 2:29 pm Reply

      Mark, you have been misinformed. Hunter Biden did not receive “millions” and certainly didn’t admit to it. The video of Joe Biden being misconstrued as “bragging about protecting his son” actually has a context that has nothing to do with his son. To knowingly misconstrue these media items is simply more of the immoral dishonesty that the Republican Party now supports. The “cleverness” of trump’s dishonesty and how it “wins” is celebrated. This is the very immorality editorialized against by Christianity Today.


      1. Mark Beeksma December 24, 2019 8:30 am Reply

        Pete,
        Merry Christmas!
        Hunter received $83,333 per month for several years. This is millions. This has been made public because of a lawsuit he was involved in several years ago. The copies of the transaction have been shown publicly. You are the first person I have heard from that specifically denies it.
        The surrounding information about Joe calling off the dogs on the investigation of Hunter’s corrupt company is well known. Partisans make these blanket statements that Joe is innocent, but the facts speak for themselves.
        Regarding left-wing Christians attacking right-wing Christians, I believe that those invoke God’s name to criticize other Christians for not supporting abortion, etc. are clearly violating the 3rd Commandment.
        Aloha


        1. Pete Antonson December 25, 2019 10:44 pm Reply

          So Big Bird of Fox & Friends sits on the white couch and says Hunter Biden isn’t qualified to be a board member for an “energy company” and that does it for for Mark, he doesn’t bother finding out Hunter graduated Yale Law and Georgetown (#1 Intnl diplomat factory) and that he was Director of the company’s International Law Division or that he had years of running his own international lobbying compamy specializing in international legal issues or that large oil and gas compamies routinely pay their directors 500,000 a year, or that smelly Rush Limberger is the source of the increase grom 50k to 83k, no, Mark has other things to do with his time!
          Plus, I’m dead sure he sees nothing wrong with 4 trump kids in the White House (ka-ching ka-ching) along with Rudy’s boy making $90k for overseeing all tjose champian sports teams turning down WH invitations!


  22. WestsideResident December 26, 2019 10:56 pm Reply

    Reading the above, I’m convinced those on the left are mean, self righteous, and ignorant. Political cannibalism on display!


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