In an interview with Democratic congressman-elect Mark Takano, Gabbard urges party to ‘own our diversity’ and insists ‘we are strong together’
Democratic congresswoman-elect Tulsi Gabbard has come to the aid of fellow Democrat and presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard, arguing that US voters are calling on Democrats to “get beyond identity politics” in their identity politics rhetoric.
Gabbard, who was elected to Congress in 2016, is the first Hindu member of Congress. She is also the second Hawaii Democrat ever elected to Congress, after Tulsi Gabbard succeeded her mother, Patsy Mink, in the House of Representatives in 1986.
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“I remember being in elementary school in Hawaii, and the teacher would be speaking to the class, and the teacher would come to a point in the lesson where we had to know the difference between a monkey and a donkey, and you would have to tell the class which one was a donkey,” Tulsi Gabbard told Democratic congressman-elect Mark Takano in an interview following her election on Tuesday.
“And there would be a lot of eye rolls and the teacher would come up to us and be like, ‘It’s okay, you can get it.’ People really don’t care who is getting what out of identity politics. They know that it doesn’t work.”
“Just stop trying to divide us, and I think you are smart enough to understand what is going on,” she continued. “I think you are smarter than a lot of people in the party, and I just want you to get past it, and do what I am doing and speak the truth. And if you know what I’m talking about, let’s make it bipartisan.”
Gabbard told Takano that she believes in the coalition that elected her – several hundred years after the addition of Hawaii to the union – because she believes that the country is better off when people work together.
“I believe that we are stronger together,” she said. “I have been elected a Muslim by my constituents – hundreds of people and legislators that are from Hawaii, across the state, from other communities, who did not select me because I am a Muslim, they selected me because I was at a time in my life that people needed me in the government and needed a woman in office.”
“I want to be a voice, and not a divider,” she added.
Gabbard, who has repeatedly said she is a Muslim, has in the past focused some of her ire on Donald Trump’s recent inflammatory rhetoric toward Muslims and refugees. She has previously declared that the US stands at “a crisis of historic proportions”, and referred to the president’s response to the Las Vegas shooting as an “ethnic cleansing”.
Gabbard was the first Indian-American to hold a position in Congress and was a state representative before that. As a state representative, she organized a legislative strike to protest the governor’s approval of the Liquor Bill. She has been married for 18 years and has four children.