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The decline of independent thought

What happened to independent thought in America?

The recent Democratic debates brought the expected sparring and little substantive content about how we might address the many serious challenges we face as a nation. It would appear that the only item the candidates can agree on is to condemn the current resident of the White House.

It is even more unfortunate that the only true independent voice, that of Tulsi Gabbard, is being drowned out by the vapid criticism and unsubstantiated accusations by the traditional DNC outlets, such as the New York Times and CNN. The vast majority of these commentators lack any in-depth knowledge of the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, and thus fail to grasp the disastrous consequences of the misguided wars we wage in those areas. They therefore also fail to appreciate Gabbard’s anti-war stance, and label her as “isolationist” and “pacifist.” One might even ask: Where is identity politics when we really need it? This is, after all, a female candidate and a woman of color. It would appear that not all diversities are created equal. Diversity of political and policy opinions is certainly not encouraged in the Democratic party and those who dare to criticize the party’s idols pay a heavy price. Strange state of affairs for a party that so emphasizes diversity and inclusion.

Gabbard is a war veteran. She is hardly a pacifist. Nor is she a draft evader, as some of our former commanders-in-chief were. She knows first-hand the consequences of the endless wars we are now engaged in, and the morally questionable alliances we make in the Middle East, which then come home to roost. (Recall that Osama bin Ladin had at one point been supported by the CIA when he was engaged in fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan). The U.S. also actively supports Saudi Arabia, which in turn funds many of the Sunni terrorist groups. Tulsi Gabbard is the only candidate who points out these uncomfortable facts.

Gabbard also is the only candidate who discusses the tremendous costs of these wars: human, economic, political, environmental and moral; costs which are bankrupting us both financially and morally, and at a time when our infrastructure is failing. But all of her valid criticisms of the established policies, often policies being promoted by both parties (regime change wars, the ‘war on drugs’), are eclipsed in a political climate where dissent is not tolerated.

More than anything, Gabbard has been guilty of the crime of apostasy. Whether it’s independent thought now, criticisms of President Barack Obama’s foreign policies, or her 2016 resignation as a vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee due to her desire to endorse Bernie Sanders, rather than the DNC’s favorite – Hillary Clinton.

Gabbard is attempting to address some of the deep flaws in how the Democrats have governed the nation, in particular, the hawkish foreign policy: perhaps the one point of agreement between the two parties. She dares to speak up and represents a dissenting voice among the Democrats when it comes to foreign policy. For this, she is marginalized, called a Russian asset, accused of collaborating with Putin and Assad and a range of other libelous accusations.

Despite the attacks, hundreds attend Congresswoman Gabbard’s town hall meetings across New Hampshire each night. Gabbard has the intellect, experience, knowledge and moral fortitude to be the next president and to effect real change in America. Not the type of change that brought us the first eight years of continuous wars under President Obama, but a change that would channel the trillions of dollars currently fueling the endless wars to repairs of our failing infrastructure and educational system, as well as to implementing ‘Medicare for All’ and developing sustainable technologies.

I urge my fellow Granite Staters to vote for Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard in the primary on Feb. 11. She is the only candidate that consistently draws support from Independents, Republicans, Democrats and everyone in-between, because she listens and speaks with all Americans. This country needs her as president.

Vince Chevalier is a resident of Nashua.

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