Why I Support Tulsi Gabbard as a Libertarian

Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

I’m not a voting man. I think that voting is ultimately ineffectual and a massive waste of time. Go plug in your support for a candidate and expect change. Even though Russia rigged it. Or Ted Cruz rigged it, whatever the story is this time. Voting is a joke, so I don’t really support anyone politically that way. Rather, I prefer to support through the most pragmatic means possible. How is this person going to shift the political discourse? How is the candidate I’m supporting going to re-shape politics? Answering these questions leads me to support Tulsi Gabbard as the ideal 2020 candidate, even as a libertarian.

The Overton Window

To understand my political support of Gabbard, you’re going to need to understand a political concept we call the Overton Window. The concept of the Overton Window was introduced by Joseph P. Overton in the 1990s. At the time, he was working for conservative think tank Mackinac Center of Public Policy at the time.

Overton developed the Overton Window to describe to donors the range of what is politically acceptable. On his donor brochure, Overton created a slider to indicate the actual aims of the think tank based on what is achievable. To this date, the Overton Window serves as a very useful political heuristic.

We can see the Overton Window’s shift throughout history. For example, it was once acceptable to own slaves in the United States. Now it obviously isn’t. Moreover, we see the Overton window shifting today in a progressive direction primarily. Democrats wouldn’t dare to support the Medicare for all policies that they do today 8 years ago. However, politics changes over time.

The Overton Window is the sum of the acceptable political discourse in society. The way Gabbard shifts it is primarily why I support her.

Another Crappy Politician?

There are plenty of objections to supporting Tulsi Gabbard. First is her socialist policies. She worked with the Bernie Sanders campaign, and Bernie is probably as far from libertarian as one can get. Her platform supports medicare for all, free college, and many other socialist policies that libertarians should never stand for.

In addition, she may not be as anti-war as she seems. Her voting record indicates that she has been in favor of more military spending. She has identified as a “hawk on terrorism”. Yet, she’s against foreign regime change, which makes her anti-terrorism position stand in stark contrast to that of the neocons.

However, she has still managed to draw praise from Ron Paul. And she is in favor of auditing the Federal Reserve, which is a pretty solid position.

Libertarians Should Support Tulsi Gabbard

When it gets down to it, my support for Tulsi Gabbard isn’t based on how she would do as president. Sure, the aforementioned political record is problematic, but it’s only problematic if she is actually elected to the presidency, and there’s no way that’s happening. She is polling extremely low among Democrats. Therefore, supporting her doesn’t lead to the implementation of her policies.

Many libertarians are calling out the wave of libertarian support for Gabbard. They see it as a sacrifice of principles and view “pragmatics” as a weak excuse. Alas, this thinking is shallow. I don’t think the world would be a better place if Gabbard is in the oval office. I do think the world is a better place when she’s on the debate stage, talking about non-interventionism and the problems of our abusive criminal justice system.

Gabbard Shifting the Window

Clearly, Americans like what Tulsi is saying. They’re hungry for an anti-war message. In politics today, both the Republicans and Democrats are parties of war. As I mentioned before, she isn’t the perfect anti-war candidate, but that’s not what matters. When she’s on the debate stage, she’s only talking about why regime change is bad, and people are interested. I support Gabbard because she’s shifting the Overton window in an anti-war direction.

As I discussed with Jeff Deist, what we need is politicians taking bold yet tangible positions. This especially includes the bold anti-war position. These radical stances can resonate with people, and while they may not get politicians elected, they shift public discourse.

In summary, I’m not throwing my support behind Gabbard because she would be a good president. That would be ridiculous; after all, she won’t be president. But her candidacy certainly has a positive effect on public discourse.


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