Two weeks ago, the U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The vote count was 230 Democrats to 197 Republicans. The impeachment and the partisan split were expected due to Democratic control of the House. Tulsi Gabbard, U.S. Representative for Hawaii and Democratic presidential candidate, didn’t vote in favor of or against impeaching the 45th president of the United States; she merely marked “present” on both articles of impeachment.
Gabbard explained herself in an official statement. She said, “I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing. I could not in good conscience vote for impeachment because the removal of a sitting president must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities.”
Democratic members of the House criticized Gabbard’s neutrality.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) stated, “Whenever representatives have to vote, we should vote ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ because we are sent to Congress to lead. Ocasio-Cortez added, “I’m sure (Gabbard) will be discussing her rationale in days ahead.”
Gabbard took to social media to clarify her stance to concerned and confused citizens, and to those that believed she was presidential material. Gabbard declared her decision as an “active protest” against the “zero-sum game” the Democrats and Republicans have trapped Americans in.
There’s an old saying, the onlooker views the battle from the moral high ground. If Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur who never held public office, stated his conscience prevented him from choosing a side because the impeachment process was tainted by tribal animosities, he could get away with it because he doesn’t have a congressional vote. The candidate who never held public office is an onlooker and can tactically dodge issues by taking the high ground to appear presidential, but the onlooker can’t prove their presidential material by making hard political decisions in Congress.
Trump’s impeachment was a presidential opportunity for Gabbard and she failed by acting as a candidate instead of a congresswoman.
Candidate Gabbard took the moral high ground, marked “present,” in an effort to rise above partisan bickering, but Congresswoman Gabbard had an obligation to her constituents to make the best decision on their behalf. She had a responsibility to weigh the options and vote yes or no. If she felt the president’s wrongdoing outweighed bipartisan support then she should have voted to impeach the president, but if she felt bipartisan support was an invaluable part of the process, regardless of the high crime or misdemeanor, then she should have voted against impeachment. Either way, Gabbard’s vote would have been self-explanatory because the gravity of the situation was understood by the public.
Gabbard’s mark of “present” was a desertion of duty, and her explanation of protesting a zero-sum game only makes sense to an activist that can’t differentiate between symbolism and substance.
(J. Pharoah Doss is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
by J. Pharoah Doss, For New Pittsburgh Courier