It was announced this week that U.S. Representative from Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard was to meet with president-elect Donald Trump regarding several cabinet positions that have recently been under scrutiny from the public and many in the media.
Tulsi, a current member of the Hawaii National Guard, comes as a fresh face to many living in the mainland of America. But to Democrats across America, she seems to be something of an Icon. Her credentials range from successful tenures on the Hawaii House of Representatives, Honolulu City Council, and the U.S. House. During each of these time frames, she was a champion for causes that were immediate to her serving on U.S. House committees like Foreign Affairs. She also served as the Vice-Chair of the DNC prior to resigning to endorse Bernie Sanders.
But is there more to this young, ambitious woman than meets the eye? One would argue yes.
Gabbard previously was a strong opponent of equal rights for gay men and women. She went so far as to protest a bill that would advocate for civil unions in Hawaii. This fervent stance only shifted when she ran for the U.S. House.
Gabbard additionally is a Hindu. While i don't believe this has any real effect on her ability to govern effectively, she has been a vocal supporter of Narendra Modi the current Prime Minister of India. Modi is well recognized as having ultra-right wing views.
These puzzling stances lead many to question her validity as a democrat. Her stances are varied and seem opportunistic. Even this recent meeting with the president-elect conjures up many a thought on her noticeable political aspirations.
Regardless of what decisions are made, Gabbard will continue to have a vibrant political career. A thought though is that perhaps more time should be spent on reviewing her fundamental beliefs so that they are the constant of any endeavor she tackles. None the less, women everywhere should take note of her candidacy and tenures in public office.
The conservative movement in America is often lambasted for its lack of diversity. The media and ideological leaning members of the left conjure up imagery that contains only white men. But when we take a panoptic look at the conservative movement, we see that this mongering is flawed. In 2010, many conservative women ran for office. 3 women won governor elections that year. Furthermore, this proved how redoubtable these women were in their advocacy of issues and people rather than party.
But it was more than just women winning public office that reinvigorated many people across America. It was that, as time went on, these women displayed excellence in leadership and progress.
Take Mary Fallin- elected the first female governor of Oklahoma in 2010, she many times crossed party lines to work with her gubernatorial collegues in other states. This kind of servant leadership allotted her to become the Chair of the National Governors Association in 2013.
How about Susanna Martinez? Elected in New Mexico as the first Latina governor in America, her love for her heritage and her common sense principles have put her in the running for VP and cabinet considerations. In 2016, she was elected the Chair of the Republican Governors Association. Under her leadership, the RGA had its most successful fundraising and election year by brobdingnagian proportions since the 80's.
Then there is Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Former house representative for the state of Washington, her "no-nonsense" attitude rose her to minority leader. She won election to the U.S. House of Reps in 2005. She currently is the highest ranking Republican woman, chairing the Republican conference. This has allowed her to be a spokesperson for conservative ideas in the House.
It's because of the strong reforms of these women, which other women have gotten into politics. The desire to care for their family beyond the current generation and defend their freedoms run deep across America in our women.
It did for Nikki Haley, South Carolina's first female, Indian-American governor. Her parents immigrated here to provide their children with a brighter future. She took that hope and won an election to the state Assembly in a heavily bigoted district. From there she fought establishment regime and eventually ran for governor. Now in her 2nd term, she is set to take on the Vice-Chair position of the RGA.
Likewise, for Kristi Noem. Born into a ranching family in South Dakota, Noem fought for her community on several local boards and committees before running for her states House of Reps. After serving in her final year as Assistant Majority Leader, she ran for the U.S. House of Reps and won. After several year in Congress, she has made good on a campaign promise, and has announced she will not seek re-election in 2018. Instead she will mount a historic bid for governor of South Dakota.
Finally we see this spirit of justice and achieving the American dream prevalent in Amber Mariano. Amber won a historic election to Florida's House of Representatives at 21. She is the youngest female elected to public office in Florida. Inspired to become the first female president, she had her father as a role model (Commissioner). Now she outranks him.
So what do these inspiring conservative women show us?
First, that conservatism is an ideology that welcomes all individuals regardless of gender and ethnicity.
Secondly, when women succeed in politics it opens the doors for other women to achieve their hopes. By mentoring from a distance, they have the ability to inspire.
(This is not a political endorsement of President-elect Trump. Simply insight on how to view any being coming into the office of the POTUS.)
Xenophobic. Sexist. Nativist. These are all words that have defined the Trump presidential campaign.
Limited government. Tax cuts. Pro-Life. These are all words that were drowned out by the caterwaul the aforementioned words made.
Secondhand. Unworthy. Unforeseeable. These are all words that I've challenged myself to use when I dialogue about our president-elect.
For several months now, I have been toying with this idea of people being secondhand. This concept that even though something may appear to be used and produce a mephitic odor, it still has the opportunity to produce something positive.
As we journey into this new year it is clear America will need to watch its solecisms. We do need to unite behind the man many elected and work to ensure that he not necessarily pays for his past slanders and bigotry. NO, we need to instead recognize that he, like all of us, is secondhand in nature. We all start out striving to put good into the world. Some of us along the way get lost. But what matters the most is when we recognize our pre-loved state and seek the help and guidance we need in order to restore ourselves, our friend's faith in us, and our communities, we can make things good again.
There are many presentiment thoughts that I have about the future, but i also recognize that those have always been there; before and after every presidential election that I have voted in. 2008. 2012. 2016.
Let us abjure the ideal that our presidents are perfect and start coming to terms with the fact that they are secondhand. The pain and the sorrow will be far less if we do so. Anything that is second hand or broken still may have something productive left to give.