In a world in which identity politics and partisan views seem to define and divide Americans, former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has broken all the rules, much to the delight of the enthusiastic crowd at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
The 2020 presidential hopeful received a warm welcome and earned a standing ovation for her keynote speech, in which she supported the John Durham investigation into “Clinton corruption,” denounced the “political elite” and warned against political “tribalism.”
After calling for a moment of silence to “send our prayers” for the safety and well-being of the citizens of Ukraine, Gabbard acknowledged that there were going to be “some strong thoughts” about her inclusion by Conservative Union head Matt Schlapp in the CPAC lineup.
“I’ve gotta say, when Matt and I first spoke on the phone about me coming here, we both had a similar reaction to each other saying, ‘yeah, there’s gonna probably be some strong thoughts that people are going to share with both of us,” Gabbard said, adding that as soon as her engagement was announced, “the blue checkmarks started lining up.”
“And then I started seeing the things coming out from so-called conservatives, mostly directed at Matt, and saying, ‘How dare you? don’t you know she’s a Democrat? Cancel her, disinvite her or lock the doors, don’t let her in,” she continued.
And she wasn’t wrong.
Outspoken Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers just about blew a gasket, calling on Schlapp to “cancel” her.
— Wendy Rogers (@WendyRogersAZ) February 21, 2022
But it is precisely Gabbard’s stance against the knee-jerk cancel culture that has endeared her to many Republicans. Gabbard has appeared on both Joe Rogan’s podcast and Fox News more often than on liberal mainstream media lately, and her common-sense approach to issues that are important to all Americans has gained her a large Red following.
“This kind of tribalism,” Gabbard said, “is dangerous and it’s emblematic of an erosion of a spiritual foundation in this country. It’s emblematic of this lack of recognition that we’re all God’s children, that we are one nation under God, and knowing that inspires us.”
And if that wasn’t enough to convince the naysayers of her intent, Gabbard’s defense of free speech and attack on the “power elite” may have won over many of her critics.
“They think free speech is something that should only be left to those who agree with them,” Gabbard said.
“The latest strategy and tactic that they’re using is to try to undermine our free speech by taking it upon themselves to say they’ve got the responsibility to protect us from so-called misinformation,” she stated. “So basically, they’re saying that they are going to protect us from that which they claim is not true.”
Her allegation that U.S. government leaders are “working with their mouthpieces — the mainstream media and Big Tech — doing exactly what our founders rejected” certainly resonated with the crowd, as did her observation that smear tactics rather than open debate has become the norm.
“I’m sure you’ve all heard them before,” Gabbard said. “I have. Like today. Russian asset. White Supremacist. Bigot. Racist. Extremist. Traitor.”
“But what’s even more dangerous than this threat of being canceled is the federal government wielding its power and might to punish those who dare to question or disagree with them and their policies,” she stated, citing the recent Department of Homeland Security bulletin, ominously entitled “Summary of Terrorism Threat to the U.S. Homeland,” which reads, “The proliferation of false or misleading narratives which sow discord or undermine public trust in US government institutions.”
“Basically,” Gabbard stated, “what they’re telling us is you are an enemy of the state if you dare to oppose or even question the president, his administration, or his policies. Shut up, step back, fall in line, or we’re coming for you.”
It was just this kind of thinking, according to Gabbard, that gave Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the justification for resorting to “genuinely authoritarian and tyrannical means to suppress a peaceful mass protest against the power elite.”
Instead, Gabbard invited the attendees to join her for a moment in “an alternate universe.”
“One where our leaders actually took their oath of office to the Constitution seriously,” she envisioned, adding, “If we were living in this world, they would shut down secret FISA courts and stop three letter agencies like the NSA, FBI and CIA from illegally spying on Americans.”
“The would denounce the Attorney General of the United States for his disgraceful attacks on American parents, like those in Loudoun Country and across the country,” she stated.
She then blew the roof off CPAC, stating that in this ideal world, “our leaders would haul James Clapper before a judge to answer for his lies to Congress about how the government is collecting information. And they would support the Durham investigation and Clinton corruption in 2016…”
And that was it for that sentence. The thunderous applause made it impossible for Gabbard to finish it.
Yes, the blue checkmarks are lining up, but to express their praise for Gabbard, who spoke what many average Americans from both sides of the political spectrum are feeling.
.@TulsiGabbard giving a phenomenal speech at @CPAC we can respect each other “in that spirit of Aloha,” she said. She is right. We are all Americans and our freedom comes from God. pic.twitter.com/A7nGFJ4u61
— Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) February 26, 2022
What Tulsi Gabbard going to CPAC shows is just how huge the conservative tent can become. Meanwhile, Democrats require proof of pronouns, privilege, and vaccination for entry.
— David Marcus (@BlueBoxDave) February 21, 2022
— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) February 26, 2022
In her closing remarks, Gabbard was optimistic.
“As we look forward,” she said, “we can take heart in knowing that our path will be lit by the fire of freedom that burns brightly in the hearts of Americans in every community.”
The standing ovation as she exited the stage said it all: From your lips to God’s ears, Tulsi.
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