Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and 2020 presidential hopeful wants to see an end to regime change wars.
At a meet and greet at Central Park Coffee Company in Mt. Pleasant on Wednesday, April 17, Gabbard said that until regime change wars are ended, the U.S. will not have the resources to bring about health care reform, address climate change, invest in education and rebuild crumbling infrastructure.
“For me as a soldier in the Army National Guard ... I’ve seen firsthand the cost of war,” Gabbard said, who is currently serving as a major in the Army National Guard and has been deployed to the Middle East twice. “We are at a greater risk for nuclear catastrophe now than ever before.
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” Gabbard continued. “We’ve got to bring about change to walk us back from this nuclear abyss (and) work toward reducing and getting rid of these nuclear weapons, rather than using taxpayer dollars to build more, making us less safe.”
Gabbard said that “nuclear catastrophe” was very evident in her home state of Hawaii last year when over a million people received a text alert that read, “Missile incoming. Seek shelter immediately. This is not a drill.”
Gabbard said there was no shelter to seek. There were no nuclear bunkers built. College students sprinted across college campuses in an attempt to find a concrete building where they could hide. One report read that a father lowered his seven-year-old daughter into a manhole hoping it would keep her safe, Gabbard said.
“This alert turned out to be false, but we reacted the way we did because we know this threat is real and poses an existential threat to all of us,” Gabbard said.
Ending regime change wars would free up “trillions” of dollars to be put toward health care, immigration reform agriculture and climate change, Gabbard said.
A “vast majority” of families in the U.S. are one health care crisis away from “total economic loss,” Gabbard said. Gabbard said it is time to say no to big insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies who are “making money off the backs of sick people.”
“We are not going to accept this any more and stand together to pass legislation like Medicare for all that makes sure every single one of us in this country, regardless of how much or how little money we have in our pockets, in that time of great need, can get the care we need,” Gabbard said.
Moving on to immigration reform, Gabbard recognized the arrest of 32 men in Mt. Pleasant by Immigration and Customs Enforcement almost a year ago.
“You recently had some issues here with families being torn apart,” Gabbard said. “This is an issue that continues to be politicized in Washington, standing in the way of real solutions.”
Within agriculture, Gabbard said Congress continues to pass bills that support, subsidize and incentivizes large, multinational agribusinesses that harm farmers, communities and the environment. She said it is necessary to support rural farmers and those who are furthering sustainable agriculture.
Similarly, Gabbard said climate change is threatening the future of the planet.
“We understand the kinds of big changes and adjustments that need to be made, yet every year we give between $25 billion and $30 billion in subsidies to big oil companies. We have to change the priorities in this country so we are investing in our people and our planet and our future,” Gabbard said.
Gabbard said there are communities in the U.S. making “tremendous progress” to wean themselves off their dependence on fossil fuels and investing instead in clean, renewable energy.
Susan Hult, of Swedesburg, joined the crowd at Central Park on Wednesday because she was interested in what Gabbard had to say.
“I’m keeping an open mind. I’ve just heard really good things about her,” Hult said.
Jami Telgren, of Mt. Pleasant, said she thinks Gabbard is “sensible.”
“She has a way of speaking that’s relatable,” Telgren said.
Linda Wells, of Mt. Pleasant, came out to the meet and greet in support of Gabbard. Wells said she would be happy if Gabbard got the Democratic nomination.
“She’s intelligent. She talks to people with dignity. We need to bring that back to the White House,” Wells said.
Jeff Fager, chair of the Henry County Democrats, said Gabbard is one of a large number of bright and capable Democratic candidates to enter the presidential race.
“There’s about 290 days until our caucuses,” Fager said. “There’s lots of time to sort through all these folks.”