Beto O’Rourke Says He’s Running a Positive Campaign

Beto O’Rourke, who came strikingly close to ousting Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, only to lose the Senate race by slightly more than 2 points — and with it his congressional seat — isn’t discouraged.

He’s running for president, announcing a bid for the Democratic nomination in 2020 Thursday, March 14.

Last November, O’Rourke proved that a Democrat — or at least one named Beto O’Rourke — could be competitive in deep-red Texas. The moment O’Rourke lost to Cruz, his supporters (and not just those in Texas) were already calling on him to run for office again. He ran the closest Senate race in Texas since 1978, earning him national political celebrity.

He broke fundraising records and outperformed polling. His campaign landed him onstage with Willie Nelson and on a couch with Oprah Winfrey. He has been compared to Barack Obama and Abraham Lincoln. He’s been consistently polling among some of the biggest 2020 names in the Democratic field in early surveys.

Important to understanding Beto O’Rourke’s success is that it’s based in ideas. Unlike other rising stars in the Democratic Party, like Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Bernie Sanders, who got on the map because of a nerd fight over concrete policy proposals — O’Rourke has made waves for simply stating that a Democrat with liberal values could win in Texas.

Andrew Yang Running for President, Explains a Universal Basic Income

The first Democratic presidential debate in June is likely to feature a lot of familiar faces: Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, maybe Joe Biden or Beto O’Rourke if they decide to run.

It’s also likely to feature someone even few political junkies had heard of until very recently: Andrew Yang.

Yang, a startup veteran and founder of the nonprofit Venture for America who has never run for elected office before, has made a $12,000-per-year basic income for all American adults the centerpiece of his campaign. He averages 0 to 1 percent in public opinion polls, but as of this writing, he’s surged on prediction markets, with bettors giving him slightly worse odds than Warren, Booker, and Klobuchar, and better odds than Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, or Julián Castro.

Some of that momentum can be traced to his appearance on comedian Joe Rogan’s wildly popular podcast (the above YouTube clip of his appearance has more than 2 million views). Small donations started to stream in. As of Monday morning, Yang had exceeded 65,000 donors, thus clearing a threshold the Democratic National Committee has set for eligibility in the first two debates.

His campaign manager, Zach Graumann, told the Daily Beast that the campaign had already obtained at least 200 donors per state in at least 20 states, clearing another DNC threshold. “Everything is up and to the right since the Joe Rogan podcast. That was the key. That was the moment,” Graumann told the Beast’s Sam Stein and Will Sommer.

Mass popularity on interview podcasts — Yang has also appeared on Sam Harris’s show, Freakonomics, and Vox’s Ezra Klein Show — is not a traditional path to a successful campaign. Nor are appearances on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program the norm in a Democratic primary. But a lot can happen when an unexpected person does well in a debate. It builds name recognition and can help candidates who are strikingly different from the rest of their field (like Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders) stand out.

And successful or not, Yang is a fascinating cultural phenomenon. He blends a traditionally left-wing platform (a mass expansion of the safety net and a big new value-added tax, or VAT, to pay for it) with massive appeal to the young, predominantly male, and, in their unique way, socially conservative audiences of people like Joe Rogan and Sam Harris. This meme, showing an angry, MAGA hat-wearing Trump supporter transforming into a blissful, basic income-enjoying Yang backer, is a good illustration of how this type of Reddit/4chan denizen Yang backer thinks Yang’s message will penetrate on the right:

Indeed, Yang is already winning the 2020 meme wars by a wide margin, and on the strangest accounts:

For instance, I have seen this video compilation of pro-Yang memes set to Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality” and now you have to as well:

4chan is a particularly prominent hotbed for the Yang Gang, which can cause some problems given the site’s popularity among some white nationalists; one backer posted an innocuous tweet from Yang about the opioid crisis with the caption “Andrew Yang cares about white people.”

Yang, of course, totally rejects support from white nationalists. But the mainstream Yangsters? He’s a fan. “If you excise any racist white nationalist, bigotry leanings, I find the whole thing hysterical,” Yang told me in a phone call, audibly laughing. “You know what I mean? Imagine seeing your face on dragons and whatnot. The whole thing is funny.”

“I wish I could just jump up and down about how funny it is, but obviously there’s an element of it that’s intertwined with some terrible beliefs,” he continued. “Anyone who spends, like, five seconds looking into me or my background or my beliefs or my platform would be like, ‘This guy is the least white nationalist dude ever.’”

Message received! So what does Yang stand for — and what does his online success mean for the 2020 race going forward?

Meet Andrew Yang

Yang, 44 and the son of Taiwanese immigrants, worked as a corporate lawyer (“for five unhappy months,” he told Klein) after Brown and Columbia Law, before going into startups. His first one was called Stargiving and aimed to “raise money for celebrity-affiliated nonprofits,” Yang writes in his book Smart People Should Build Things, a kind of unofficial manifesto for his nonprofit Venture for America, which places recent grads of elite schools in startups in cities like Detroit and Baltimore. “It was extraordinarily difficult. My company failed spectacularly, but I recovered,” he writes.

“I went to work for a mobile software company, Crisp Wireless, and then a health care software company, MMF Systems, over the next five years, eventually becoming the CEO of a test-prep company, Manhattan GMAT, in 2006,” he continues.

Manhattan GMAT is now known as Manhattan Prep, and has expanded from offering prep for the GMAT (the standard business school admissions test) to offering GRE and LSAT prep as well. A few years after Yang took over, the test prep giant Kaplan (owned by the then-named Washington Post Company) bought Manhattan Prep.

In 2011, Yang started Venture for America (VFA), an effort to try to prevent elite colleges and universities from funneling graduates toward safe options (like jobs in finance, management consulting, or big law) by enlisting teams of fellows to move to cities across America and work for local startups.

As detailed in a 2013 New York Times profile, the group offers recent graduates a five-week boot camp on entrepreneurship, and then sets them up with startup jobs at companies that “must be less than 10 years old and employ less than 100 people. Starting salaries are $33,000 to $38,000.” The target fellows are people from selective schools who could easily be making six figures at other jobs straight out of college.

The profile, by Hannah Seligson, paints VFA as a darling of wealthy startup founders like Tony Hsieh of Zappos (based in Las Vegas, a VFA city) and Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans (based in Detroit, another VFA city). And if you read Smart People Should Build Things, that cultural milieu shines through. It’s not the work of a radical socialist firebrand. It speaks the language of startup founders and TED talk speakers, and directly targets an audience of fellow elite college grads in service of trying to make economic growth in the US more evenly spread geographically, and to improve the allocation of talent from elite institutions.

“We’re using educational attainment as an imperfect proxy for ‘smart’ and talking about people who get tracked, sorted, and aggregated throughout their adolescence into various universities and courses of studies,” he writes in the introduction. And, unsurprisingly given the name “Venture for America,” the book largely equates creating value in overlooked parts of the US with starting businesses there. Examples Yang touts include Kickboard, a VFA partner company “that provides a software application to help teachers track student performance,” and ShapeUp, which “helps individuals promote health and wellness through social networking and goal measurement.”

“People and companies around the country are solving real problems right now,” Yang concludes, and those kinds of firms are what he means.

The Freedom Dividend: Yang’s universal basic income plan

The centerpiece of Yang’s campaign is his call for a universal basic income (UBI) that he calls the Freedom Dividend (he told Klein, in a bit of characteristic bluntness, that he calls it that because it “tests better” as a term than “universal basic income”).

The Freedom Dividend, outlined in Yang’s second book The War on Normal People, is a $1,000-per-month (or $12,000-per-year) check mailed to every adult American age 18 to 64, no strings attached. It’s a pure universal basic income, with no phaseouts for top earners or work requirements. For Americans currently benefiting from cash or cash-like programs like Social Security Disability Insurance, food stamps, or Section 8 housing assistance, Yang would offer a choice between the existing welfare state and the Freedom Dividend, in hopes that no one would be left worse off.

Yang, like many entrepreneurs who have become attracted to UBI, embraces the policy as a way to cope with automation. “Truck driving alone is the most common job in twenty-nine states with 3.5 million drivers — 94 percent of them male — and an additional 12 million workers supporting them in truck stops and motels across the country,” his website proclaims. “What happens when the trucks start to drive themselves?”

“Humanity First” is among the Yang campaign’s most prominent slogans, and he frames his main financing mechanism for the Freedom Dividend — a 10 percent VAT — as a way to prevent big companies like Amazon and Google from “funnel[ling] hundreds of billions in earnings overseas. VAT makes it impossible for them to benefit from the American people and infrastructure without paying their fair share.” It would, he claims, “capture the value generated by automation in a way that income taxes would not.”

This is a strange claim. VATs are basically sales taxes levied at each stage of production (when a lumber company sells wood to a paper mill, when the paper mill sells paper to Dunder Mifflin, when Dunder Mifflin sells paper to you), and as such, economists generally believe that consumers bear most or all of the cost of increased VAT rates. Recent empirical studies confirm this: While decreases in VATs are often captured by businesses that pocket the money as increased profit, businesses are savvy about passing on increased VAT rates to their consumers.

Corporations would probably bear some of the burden — for one thing, VATs would reduce the value of corporate profits by making all the stuff profits can buy more expensive — but it’s mostly a consumption tax.

And Yang understands this. In his interview with Klein, he justifies the regressive nature of the tax by noting that the highly progressive nature of the Freedom Dividend offsets it. He concedes we’d need to implement a policy for seniors on fixed incomes, who’d see their purchasing power fall substantially.

Besides the VAT, Yang would finance the Freedom Dividend with savings from other welfare programs that beneficiaries opt out of; reduced costs of social maladies like crime, incarceration, and health conditions because of reduced poverty; and economic growth, citing a Roosevelt Institute estimate that a basic income, especially if not accompanied with tax increases, would substantially increase GDP by boosting consumption.

The rest of Yang’s platform

His agenda doesn’t stop there — the Yang 2020 policy page is a smorgasbord of ideas from the mainstream Democratic (Medicare-for-all, paid family leave, legal marijuana) to the Extremely Andrew Yang ($100 vouchers for all Americans to donate to nonprofits, an American Journalism Fellows program to revive local news, an American Mall Act to find new uses for shuttered shopping malls, geoengineering to fight global warming, hiring a White House psychologist to “monitor the mental health of employees serving in the executive branch”).

A bunch fall into the category of “more popular among liberal political bloggers than most politicians,” like reviving earmarks to make bills easier to pass, or automatic filing of income taxes.

Then the platform veers into stranger territory (thanks to Jeremiah Johnson, host of The Neoliberal Podcast and a Yang skeptic, for flagging these to me). Yang calls for a 15 to 20 percent reduction in the federal workforce, saying he will “hire a management consulting firm to identify areas of inefficiency in the federal workforce.”

That’s an odd pitch, especially to Democratic primary voters. Under Barack Obama, the federal workforce fell to its smallest level as a share of the total workforce since FDR. Fewer people work for the federal government now than did under Ronald Reagan, even though the population has grown by some 100 million people since then. The low pay of the civil service has led to traditional federal government jobs being supplanted by private contractors, who are typically paid substantially more for similar work. And in any case, causing massive layoffs at an institution that employs 2 million Americans hardly seems compatible with a “humanity first” approach.

When pushed on this, Yang retreated somewhat. “ I’m not arguing that too many people work for the federal government writ large,” he told me. “We should hire many thousands of people for public works projects and making our infrastructure more sustainable and resilient, but that does not mean you would not also want to scrutinize the organization that you currently have.” He definitely does think the government could use some streamlining in existing departments, and some additional automation.

He adds, “One of the proposals I have that I think would be a huge win is something suggested by one of your colleagues: to move several agencies out of DC, because Washington is a very expensive area with lots of traffic and development. … The costs would be lower and the jobs and energy would be higher, and the culture of the departments would shift to be closer to the needs of the people.”

Yang also wants to establish a news and information ombudsman at the Federal Communications Commission to fight fake news, with the power to impose “penalties for persistent and destructive misstatements that undermine public discourse.” You don’t have to be a First Amendment absolutist to see how that could go wrong, but Yang thinks the risks of overreach are manageable. “The real problem is that no one can agree on anything and there are foreign actors laughing their asses off while they’re tampering with our democracy because no one can tell fact from fiction,” he says.

And then there’s the Legion of Builders and Destroyers, the real name of Yang’s signature infrastructure proposal. He proposes siphoning off:

10% of the military budget — approximately $60 billion per year —to a new domestic infrastructure force called the Legion of Builders and Destroyers. The Legion would be tasked with keeping our country strong by making sure our bridges, roads, power grid, levies, dams, and infrastructure are up-to-date, sound and secure. It would also be able to clear derelict buildings and structures that cause urban blight in many of our communities and respond to natural disasters. … The Commander of the Legion would have the ability to overrule local regulations and ordinances to ensure that projects are started and completed promptly and effectively.

You may be thinking you read that incorrectly, but you did not. I asked him how far this power would extend — could the Commander of the Legion decide to build a freeway through downtown Manhattan whether or not residents liked it?

“Obviously, there would still be a need for some kind of consensus and agreement. You wouldn’t have some autocrat making decisions that would end up doing something that would be inefficient or negative for a given community at a high level,” he explained. “But we have to face facts that the US has gotten terrible at building things because everyone’s gotten their hands tied with bureaucratic processes that have gone overboard in many cases.”

“I’m glad you like the name because who wouldn’t want to join the Legion of Builders and Destroyers?” he adds.

The Yang Meme Gang

If I had never heard of Andrew Yang before and you asked me, “Who is the natural base for a candidate running on establishing a Legion of Builders and Destroyers?” I would say, “Obviously, memelords on Reddit and 4chan.” And the prophecy has been fulfilled.

“Over the past few weeks, Yang has been the topic of frequent positive 4Chan threads, normally a stronghold for Donald Trump’s most racist supporters,” the Daily Beast’s Stein and Sommer write. “Yang’s UBI proposal has been especially appealing to 4Chan users who embrace the shiftless ‘NEET’ lifestyle (‘Not in Education, Employment, or Training’) and would rather play video games all day than have jobs. 4Chan posters have admiringly started to call Yang’s Freedom Dividend proposal ‘NEETbux.’”

Indeed, a cursory look at /pol/, 4chan’s political discussion forum, reveals several Yang threads, including this one making Paul Bunyan-esque claims about Yang, infused with a big dose of Orientalist stereotyping (“Yang is said to have 215+ IQ, such intelligence on Earth has only existed deep in Tibetan monasteries & Area 51”).

But not all pro-Yang 4chan posters are benign NEETbux fans. My Verge colleague Russell Brandom notes that some white nationalists have deluded themselves into believing that Yang is on their side; one backer posted an innocuous tweet from Yang about the opioid crisis with the caption, “Andrew Yang cares about white people.” At least one prominent alt-righter with a big platform — Richard Spencer — has voiced sympathy for Yang’s campaign.

Yang completely rejected any support from white nationalists like Spencer in a statement to Brandom:

I denounce and disavow hatred, bigotry, racism, white nationalism, anti-Semitism and the alt-right in all its many forms. Full stop. For anyone with this agenda, we do not want your support. We do not want your votes. You are not welcome in this campaign.”

So far, Yang’s remarkable online following has gotten him on track to participate in televised debates. But as Brandom notes, the perception of support from some of the internet’s most noxious quarters risks damaging the campaign’s reputation, and doing so unfairly. There are plenty of valid reasons — his inexperience in government, some of his more out-there platform items — to not back him, but a fear that he’s associated with the alt-right is not among them.

To build the Yang Gang going forward, Yang will have to find a way to harness the enthusiasm for him on sites like Reddit without its worst elements tarring unfairly him by association.

But his mere candidacy, and presence on a debate stage, matters. In a super-crowded field, candidates need signature ideas that stand out. That’s why Julián Castro is trying to become the pro-reparations candidate, why Pete Buttigieg wants to be the court-packing candidate, and why Jay Inslee wants to be the climate candidate.

And Yang’s signature idea is arguably the boldest and most surprising of the bunch. That could help Yang break out from the pack — and it could help UBI become an even more mainstream idea.

Originally posted – https://www.vox.com/2019/3/11/18256198/andrew-yang-gang-presidential-policies-universal-basic-income-joe-rogan

Bernie Sanders is a Front Runner For President… So Far

Sen. Bernie Sanders caught the establishment Democratic Party off guard three years ago; few anticipated the strength of his candidacy and message.

Things have changed. Sanders announced on Tuesday he is running for president again — but this time, he’s not the underdog. This time, he is a frontrunner who, despite coming in second in 2016, has fundamentally altered the Democratic Party.

Sanders, now 77 years old, is the most popular senator among constituents in America and consistently ranks among the top potential 2020 candidates in early polls. That said, he’s joining a packed field, including progressive firebrands like Sens. Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Kamala Harris (CA), and possibly Sherrod Brown (OH). Prominent Democrats such as Joe Biden are also expected to jump into the race.

Sanders, in an email to supporters on Tuesday, laid out a vision featuring a number of his longstanding policy priorities including free college and Medicare-for-all. “I’m running for president because a great nation is judged not by how many billionaires and nuclear weapons it has, but by how it treats the most vulnerable — the elderly, the children, our veterans, the sick and the poor,” the email reads.

As part of the message, Sanders is calling on 1 million supporters to sign on to his campaign and demonstrate the impact of grassroots backing — a key component of his 2016 presidential campaign that he intends to build on this cycle.

“We’re gonna win,” he said in an interview with CBS’s This Morning. “We are gonna also launch what I think is unprecedented in modern American history, and that is a grassroots movement to lay the groundwork for transforming the economic and political life of this country. That’s what’s different.”

Sanders, now a well-established contender, faces a fresh challenge during his second presidential run.

Cory Booker 2020 White House race

Our 4th in the series of Democrats announcing they are running for president — next up is Cory Booker.

Calling for a sense of common purpose, Sen. Cory Booker on Friday morning declared his candidacy for president.

The high-profile Democrat from New Jersey announced his White House run with a new website and a tweet featuring a two-minute-long campaign launch video, as well as an email to supporters.

“I believe that we can build a country where no one is forgotten, no one is left behind; where parents can put food on the table; where there are good-paying jobs with good benefits in every neighborhood,” Booker said in the video.

The former mayor of Newark, known for his oratory skills, added that he envisions a country “where our criminal justice system keeps us safe, instead of shuffling more children into cages and coffins; where we see the faces of our leaders on television and feel pride, not shame.”

Booker’s entry into the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination race was widely expected. His jam-packed December visit to New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House, had the look and the feel of a presidential campaign trip. Aides confirmed that in recent weeks, Booker’s been hiring staffers for his emerging campaign.

Unlike some of his rivals for the nomination, Booker skipped setting up an exploratory committee as a first step toward running for the White House. Campaign aides said that next weekend (Feb. 8-9) Booker will visit Iowa – the state that holds the first-in-the-nation caucuses – and then head straight to South Carolina (Feb. 10-11) – which holds the first southern contest. They added that Booker – who turns 50 in April – will return to New Hampshire over President’s Day weekend.

Booker joins a growing field of candidates including Sen. Kamala Harris of California; former San Antonio mayor and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; and former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have set up presidential exploratory committees, as has Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

Booker’s announcement came less than two weeks after Harris jumped into the race on Martin Luther King Day, followed by a massive rally in her hometown of Oakland, Calif., days later. The two senators, both African-American, are expected to battle for the influential black vote in the Democratic primaries.

In his video, Booker told the story of his parents’ struggle to move their family into a predominantly white neighborhood with great public schools. He also highlighted how as an adult, he moved into Newark’s Central Ward, a low-income inner-city neighborhood where he continues to live.

“Together, we will channel our common pain back into our common purpose,” Booker said at the end of the video announcement. “Together, America, we will rise.”

His campaign highlighted that Booker – like many of his primary rivals – would reject contributions from corporate political action committees (PACs) and federal lobbyists. They added that Booker also opposed the use of super PACs to help his campaign or those of his rivals.

Booker, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, last summer and fall was one of the Democrats leading the push against the confirmation of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. He raised eyebrows and was widely mocked by Republicans for comparing himself to Spartacus, the Thracian gladiator and rebel slave who led a rebellion against the Roman Empire.

Booker was ridiculed by Republicans after threatening to defy the Senate rules and release what he thought were confidential documents concerning Kavanaugh’s past.

“This is about the closest I’ll probably ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment,” he said at the time.

Reacting to his announcement Friday, the Republican National Committee blasted him as a “self-promoter” who’s out of touch with most Americans.

“Cory Booker is a political opportunist who left Newark ridden with crime and an ‘emblem of poverty.’ Even the liberal base thinks he’s a disingenuous self-promoter, and his embrace of policies like higher taxes, single-payer health care, and government-guaranteed jobs make him totally out-of-touch with most Americans,” RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens said.

Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire.

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/cory-booker-jumps-into-2020-white-house-race

 

 

Sen. Amy Klobuchar is Running for President

In her 12 years as Minnesota’s senator, Amy Klobuchar has built a reputation as a quick-witted, hardworking, pragmatist: the “senator next door.”

Now Klobuchar is running for president, officially announcing a 2020 bid for the Democratic Party nomination Sunday, February 10. There are reasons to consider her a serious contender.

Klobuchar is popular with voters. At 58, she’s on her third term in the Senate — elections she’s won by landslide margins. She won reelection in 2018 by a whopping 26 points over Republican opponent Jim Newberger, including in 43 counties that President Donald Trump won in 2016.

She’s good at retail politics — a skill that’s served many candidates well in early caucus and primary states. She visits all 87 Minnesota counties every year, a fact she is quick to tell reporters. And she can fundraise; she famously once got her ex-boyfriend to donate $17,000 to her campaign.

But she also faces challenges. On the issues that that the Democratic Party’s base are prioritizing — Medicare-for-all, tuition-free college, a $15 minimum wage — Klobuchar is notably quiet. While other 2020 hopefuls like Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have made a point to sign on to major progressive legislation around health care and inequality, Klobuchar hasn’t. She’s earned a reputation as a moderate and has made a career of keeping out of the fights that will likely dominate the 2020 Democratic primary.

She’s also made headlines recently for her alleged mistreatment of staff — something that’s dogged her for years. In 2018 Politico used staff turnover data to include her on a list of “worst bosses in Congress.” Last week HuffPost and Buzzfeed quoted anonymous staffers describing her harsh and “erratic behavior,” like late-night emails berating them over small mistakes or misunderstandings. In one email, Klobuchar threatened to fire a staffer and included several colleagues on the chain. According to a HuffPost report, three operatives have withdrawn their names from the running to be her campaign manager because of her past treatment of staff.

Elizabeth Warren Forms an Exploratory Committee

Here is the 2nd post for a Democrat forming an exploratory committee for a possible presidential run.

Elizabeth Warren 

 

PS – I am in no way endorsing or agreeing with her views or comments in this video by sharing it.

Tulsi Gabbard Is Running for President, Who is She?

When Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) was first elected to Congress in 2012 amid an ocean of positive press, the Iraq War veteran seemed like a sure-thing for a 2020 presidential run. But after she announced her intent to run on Friday, Gabbard didn’t get the marquee treatment her early supporters would have predicted.

That’s because the one-time progressive star has alienated many of her early supporters over her conservative stances on Islam and foreign wars.

Gabbard initially excited the left because she was an outspoken economic progressive and a veteran who objected to American intervention abroad. She was also the first Hindu member of Congress. Nancy Pelosi called her an “emerging star”; MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow predicted that “she is on the fast track to being very famous.”

But in the following years, Gabbard staked out foreign policy positions that shocked her allies. She joined Republicans in demanding that Barack Obama use the term “radical Islam.” She was the member of Congress most willing to advocate for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. She dubbed herself a “hawk” on terrorism. Reporters documented worrying ties to anti-LGBTQ groups — including one run by her father — and anti-Muslim Hindu nationalists.

Gabbard has defenses of these positions, some more persuasive than others. She seems to have sincerely changed her mind on LGBTQ issues, defends her position on terrorism and as a necessary response to the serious threat from jihadism to the United States, and argues that her outreach to the Syrian government is part of an effort to open up space for a peaceful solution to the conflict.

In 2016, she backed Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) insurgent campaign over Hillary Clinton’s. The move isolated her from her friends in the establishment, while getting her little traction with the party’s insurgent left, which remained skeptical of her foreign policy.

In 2020, Gabbard seems likely to run as an economic and social progressive, similar to Sanders on domestic policy in many respects. While she hasn’t yet made a formal announcement of her candidacy, her website from her 2018 reelection campaign boasts of her views on Wall Street reform and her support for health care for all Americans through either Medicare or a public option. She mentioned climate change and criminal justice reform as key issues in an interview with CNN.