Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), the outspoken, independent thinker from Hawaii running for the loftiest perch in the land, has just said “no” to taking the next Democratic presidential primary debate stage. This signals either a surrender or a strategic end-run around the field. Yes, we’ve been down this road before. It is the same sentiment she expressed prior to the last debate; although she threatened to boycott the circus, she did qualify, show up, and rebuke the other candidates and the Democratic Party.
Gabbard has been Public Enemy #1 in those circles since. Instead of playing into the cemented narrative, Tulsi, who has not so far reached the conditions imposed for participation in the next round, is not wasting her time.
The Most Repetitive Show on Earth
As the sixth platform for national domination looms, Gabbard tweeted a different plan, saying:
“For a number of reasons, I have decided not to attend the December 19th ‘debate’ — regardless of whether or not there are qualifying polls. I instead choose to spend that precious time directly meeting with and hearing from the people of New Hampshire and South Carolina.”
Whether her bold decision is based on not quite reaching the necessary baseline requirements, or because she has had enough of the game playing, Tulsi seems indifferent to striving for inclusion. And we all know Gabbard is not one to tread water in the shallow end of the pool when a good, strong crawl will cover more territory.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has upped the ante for primetime pandering by requiring candidates to have a minimum of 4% support in selected national polls and 6% in two state polls of the early primary states Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Nevada. The deadline for polling qualification is Dec. 12 at the witching hour of 11:59 p.m. in the Eastern time zone. How dramatic for what is likely to be a boring rehash of Trump-bashing, held a scant week later.
Although Tulsi has the sheer donor numbers needed – the support of at least 200,000 unique donors – her national polling numbers haven’t yet reached the threshold. Those on the survey leaderboard are Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), former Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, billionaire Tom Steyer, and businessman Andrew Yang.
A Diverse or One-Note Race?
Tulsi has been tilting at the DNC and its primary prerequisites since the get-go, claiming the surveyors they used weren’t “accurate” enough, or that the venues were biased. Gabbard’s campaign released a statement in August, which said:
“Many of the uncertified polls, including those conducted by highly reputable organizations such as The Economist and the Boston Globe, are ranked by Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight as more accurate than some DNC ‘certified’ polls.”
The DNC was insistent that its criteria for inclusion have been fair and balanced. Just ask the committee’s spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa, who responded:
“This has been the most inclusive debate process with more women and candidates of color participating in more debates than billionaires. We are proud of this historic and diverse field with 20 candidates participating in the first two debates and at least 10 candidates in each debate after that.”
What’s ironic is that no people of color – because of the strident stipulations imposed – will be at the Dec. 19 debate hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico at the Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. PBS is set to broadcast the debate, and most likely, fewer people will watch the event than Gabbard can reach by holding town halls or meet and greets. Perhaps she’s on to something, after all.
Read more from Sarah Cowgill.