Lately, I have been seeing many tweets attributing positions to candidates who have evolved from those viewpoints. I get it; they don't seem as good as the candidate of YOUR choice. But how can you expect me to come over to your way of thinking if you won't even be honest about another person's viewpoint. As people, we are in the unenviable position of being able to destroy another person by shedding them in the wrong light.
Lyndon Baines Johnson ruined the life and career of undoubtedly one of the best liberals that ever lived, Leland Olds. He did this by creating a smear campaign contrived from spurious, unfounded, and manufactured claims of his connections to Communism from decades before. He did this to appease the large oil company executives in the state of Texas. He had the gall to stop and say to Olds as he was leaving one day, "I hope you don't take this personally, it is just politics." It ranks as one of the most awful and unfair beat-downs I have ever read about.
"Don't beat up people on issues they don't hold anymore"
Take President Barack Obama. When he was running for U.S. Senate, he said that marriage was "between a man and a woman." He said that he did not believe gay marriage was a civil right. Clearly, he had eventually evolved from that position, and no one would ever accuse him of being a homophobe now.
Now, I know that people have reasons to not like her, but to attack Tulsi Gabbard based on positions she held years ago is patently unfair, especially as young as she was.
(Full disclosure: I am not endorsing, and will not endorse, a candidate for President until at least shortly before I vote in the Arizona primary in 2020. I believe in FULLY vetting candidates and hearing all sides before making a decision. I do not latch myself onto one person whom I do not know personally without fully completing my research. There are only two people I personally know that I would work for in any political campaign, and they are both not involved in politics at the moment.)
Here is just one example of what I am finding on Twitter recently:
Tulsi Gabbard is running for President.— Rachel R. Gonzalez (@RachelRGonzalez) January 12, 2019
Here is what you need to know:
Steve Bannon loves her
David Duke loves her
She has defended and met with Assad.
She sided with Putin over Obama regarding Syria.
Later in this post, Gonzalez says this:
My name is Rachel Gonzalez and I am a Generation Zer.— Rachel R. Gonzalez (@RachelRGonzalez) January 12, 2019
I had friends who supported Hillary. I had friends who supported Bernie.
This thread has nothing to do with who Tulsi Gabbard supported in 2016.
It has everything to do with vetting potential nominees.
Let's look at her claims one by one.
- What does it matter that someone on the right "loves" a Democratic candidate? There are plenty of conservatives or independents who would love to have the Obama years back now. That doesn't mean that they would actually vote for him.
- Just because you once or twice called gay people "homosexual extremists" does not make you a homophobe if you have evolved on the issue. We are products of our environment. If we grew up in an environment where homophobia was prevalent - especially in organized religion, it is easy to fall into the trap of agreeing with their viewpoints. Part of evolving involves being willing to listen to those you have previously offended.
- What evidence do you have that she is or ever was Islamaphobic? Or is it because she is Hindu that you automatically make that assumption?
- She was pro-life, but again, she has evolved on that issue.
- She never defended Assad. She met with Asaad, and based upon her own thinking after having gathered all of the evidence, decided that we should not be in Syria - a position that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren agree with, by the way .
- She did not "side" with Putin, she made a judgment based upon the information presented. Just because you believe something that someone from another country believes does not mean you side with them. I may agree with Macron that we need to do more to combat Global Warming, but that doesn't mean that I "side" with him.
Rising Above the Fray
Now, if this is truly about vetting candidates for 2020, I am all for that. But, it needs to be done fairly. Attack politics may work, but we need to rise above it. It is not who we as liberals are. Otherwise, we cannot truly call ourselves "liberals."
What Is a Liberal?
What is the definition of liberal? According to the Oxford Dictionary, it is: "Willing to respect or accept behavior or opinions different from one's own; open to new ideas."
As liberals, we are constantly open to evolve. Conservatives, by definition, are not. They strive to keep things the same or to follow long eons-old viewpoints that are steadfastly held with the help of uncompromising religiosity.
But if someone is not coming from an honest place, we need to stop listening to that person; unless they evolve.
Check back later for a post about "The Five Steps of Evolving" which should be out later this week.