In a video posted on Twitter on October 11, frequent Fox News guest and former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced that she was leaving the Democratic Party. Gabbard’s talking points were right out of the MAGA playbook when she slammed Democrats as “an elitist cabal of warmongers driven by cowardly wokeness” and declared, “The Democrats of today are hostile to people of faith and spirituality. They demonize the police and protect criminals at the expense of law-abiding Americans. The Democrats of today believe in open borders and weaponize the national security state to go after political opponents.”
Gabbard has gone from praising Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in 2016 and running for president as a Democrat in 2020 to endorsing far-right “Stop the Steal” conspiracy theorist Kari Lake in Arizona’s 2022 gubernatorial race. Right-wing media, following Gabbard’s October 11 announcement, were quick to paint the former Hawaii congresswoman as an example of someone Democrats have alienated.
But one conservative who isn’t the least bit impressed with Gabbard’s defection from the Democratic Party is Never Trumper and Daily Beast opinion columnist Matt Lewis. In a biting October 20 column, Lewis is vehemently critic of Gabbard and slams her announcement as a cheap political stunt designed to promote “her new role as celebrity influencer.”
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“To the degree that ‘wokeness’ is the 2022 update of ‘political correctness meets identity politics,’” Lewis argues, “Dems have been trafficking in that for decades…. So, why did Tulsi decide to break up with the Democrats, and why now? Gabbard may want to take a page from ex-Democrat Ronald Reagan, who famously said, ‘I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the party left me.’ But the two are hardly analogous.”
Lewis continues, “I struggle to find any coherence in Gabbard’s political philosophy or strategy, but as a lifelong conservative, one possible answer may be that the Republican Party has left us. It has become the kind of MAGA party that is attractive to people like Lake, a former Obama voter; Donald Trump, a former Clinton supporter; Kanye ‘George Bush doesn't care about Black people’ West; Dr. Mehmet Oz of ‘Oprah’ fame; and now, the ex-Bernie-booster Tulsi Gabbard.”
The conservative columnist goes on to describe Gabbard’s defection from the Democratic Party as an example of former President Donald Trump’s toxic influence.
“In these reactionary times,” Lewis explains, “ambitious right-wing newbies just have to make the right enemies, and they are parlaying their fame into taking over not just the GOP, but the conservative movement…. A common thread among the MAGA upstarts is that they are opportunistic and attention-starved. Politics, once dreary and boring to the general public, is now a gateway to widespread attention, and the far right has by far the lowest barrier to entry. In this regard, Gabbard is merely the latest celebrity brand to hop on the conservative entertainment wing’s wagon in pursuit of even more clout.”
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Lewis continues, “Seen in that light, Gabbard’s conversion, seemingly timed to coincide with the launch of a new podcast, is less confusing…. Tulsi didn’t have to pay her dues or show her conservative credentials — all she had to do is slam her own party. Instant MAGA stardom!.... Welcome aboard, Tulsi. You’ll fit right in!”