Tulsi Gabbard

Iowa State Fair Political Soapbox - Aug. 9, 2019

Tulsi Gabbard
August 09, 2019— Des Moines, Iowa
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Aloha! That's what I call Iowa nice. It's so good to be here with all of you. Thank you very much the Des Moines Register for hosting this and giving us the opportunity to be able to give a little bit of background about who I am and why I'm running for president. I'm really grateful throughout this whole campaign to have the opportunity to come to places like Iowa, to go to communities across the country and just be reminded in every stop that we have about how great our country is. Why? Because I know who makes our country great. It is we, the people and to see the diversity, to see the heart, to see the care that we as Americans have for each other is what gives me hope for our future. Because right now we are facing incredibly challenging times. We are facing great divisiveness and unfortunately we face self-serving politicians and people in positions of power who are seeking to tear us apart and to divide us for their own selfish gain. Whether it be for political gain or profits or clicks online or media ratings or whatever it is, they're putting their own selfish interests ahead of the interests of the people. Separating us, dividing us, driving wedges between us based on the color of our skin, where we come from, how we worship or if we worship or who we love. All of these different things that make up the diverse fabric that is the United States of America. And this is so heartbreaking. This is so heartbreaking because we love our country. I love our Country, I love our people. It's why after the terrorist attack on 9/11 I enlisted in the Army National Guard. I still serve as a soldier today, now for over 16 years--thank you for your service. That's why I deployed twice to the Middle East. I volunteered to deploy with my unit and if we could just for a moment here now, ask all of our veterans who are here and those with military families, if you could raise your hand or stand and just let us thank you for your service. Thank you, thank you for your sacrifice, all of you. And I had the privilege of serving with people from all across this country.

--That's better, can you guys hear me in the back?

I serve with people from all across this country from the day I showed up at basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Through my training at Fort Sam Houston in Texas and Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. In all the different places where we had an opportunity to go. People who I served with during those two deployments down rage and the amazing thing that I felt was that those who I stood in that formation with, those who I served with, we all wore the same uniform, serving the same flag, focused on that mission that we have of serving our country, of keeping the American people safe. That there was no difference in that focus. That even though we came Democrats, Republicans, independents, conservatives, liberals, black, white, brown, different religions we represented the diversity of this country but we stood as one unit with one voice, with one focus on putting service above self and putting country before self.

This speaks to who we are as Americans. This speaks to what unites us as a country and I think it's especially important for us to remember that now as those who are in power seek to tear apart for their own selfish gain. It is only when we the people stand up around this unifying principle of freedom, of justice, of opportunity. Remembering those freedoms and inalienable rights that are enshrined in our Constitution for every single one of us. Those rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When we come together around these unifying principles with love for our country and love for each other, there is no obstacle we cannot overcome and it is only when we do that that we can begin to solve the great challenges of our day. And there are many, but we are starting on that common foundation: coming together. Overcoming those partisan differences, those ideological differences and having conversations with each other based on respect. Understanding that when we care for each other we'll find that we have far more in common than maybe we realized before. When we come together we realize that we are equally concerned about our loved ones falling sick and not being able to get the health care that they need because they can't afford it. When we come together we'll realize that hey, we all are concerned about having clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. We come together we realize that we are concerned about making sure our kids are not afraid for their life when they go to school. When we come together we realize we want to make sure that we have bridges that serve us, that our infrastructure doesn't threaten us or our families or our well-being as farmers. When we come together we can recognize how much we have in common. We have different ideas on how to solve these challenges, that's not a bad thing. When we come together united in that mission focus of service and care for each other, then we bring about that change, we bring about the big kind of change we need to see. Because really what's at stake here for me as a Democrat offering to serve you as your president commander-in-chief is yes, defeating Donald Trump in 2020, but it's bigger than that. It's bigger than that, because folks in this country we're struggling and suffering before November of 2016 and we've got to recognize that in order to solve the deep problems that we face, in order to bring about the systemic problems that we face. And if we don't recognize those problems we'll never be able to solve them and really as we look down each of the issues that concern us in our everyday lives, we come down to a couple of common threads.

Do you feel that our country is fulfilling the vision our founders had for us? That we really have a government of, by and for the people? We don't. Instead what we have is a government of, by and for the rich and powerful. Of, by and for the very few who can buy influence over politicians who are for sale. A government of, by and for special interests and corporations who are just looking out for their bottom line and how they can make more profits without thinking about the consequences that it has on our everyday lives. So when we're talking about the deep-seated change we need to bring about, this is what we're talking about. And the only way this change happens is when we the people rise up and demand it, demand that we have leaders who are truly of, by and for the people. To take away the big influence that money has in our politics, to stop the revolving door that we see with elected leaders who serve one day and then go and get hired and get paid lots of money the next day to work as a lobbyist. There are very clear reforms that we need to make in Washington. To overturn Citizens United, to get rid of dark money in politics, to make it so that politicians are not influenced by the PAC contributions they get from lobbyists, to make it so that members of Congress are not allowed to become lobbyists after they leave office. We have so much power as people. We've got to remember that we are the ones who hire and fire the people who are elected to serve us, not the special-interest, not the big corporations, they are hired to serve the people. So we've got to exercise our voices to make sure that is actually happening and that's how when we do that we can begin to bring about the kind of big change that we need to see. So I'm really proud of our campaign, we have a completely people powered campaign with volunteers and folks who are giving $1 $5 $10 whatever they can to make sure that we're able to get our message out there. Taking no contributions from PACs, no contributions from lobbyists, making sure that the voices of the people are at the forefront of everything that we do. Now there's a lot of work that we have ahead of us and we talked about a couple of them. The thing that I hear most from people is about health care. About how most families in this country are one health care emergency away from total bankruptcy and disaster. How is it possible that in this country that we spend far more as a country on health care, yet we have far worse outcomes. It's unacceptable. This is why I support passing medicare-for-all legislation that will make sure that every single American is able to get the care that we need in this country. Private insurance, if you want to choose that route and go for a private option, that's up to you. But we've got to make sure that no one is turned away when they are sick and in need of care. This is something that's impacting all Americans.

Another thing impacting all Americans is the problems posed to us by climate change. Now sometimes when you get into these conversations in Washington, they get very political and partisan when you talk about climate change because it's become this buzzword; it's this hot topic word where you're either on one side or the other, but when you just stop for a moment and talk as people, not as partisans but as people, then we find that we all need clean water to survive. Water is life none of us can survive without it. We need to know that our kids and our families in their homes and communities are gonna have clean air to breathe. That we want to make sure that we have a safe planet. We want to protect the homes, the land that we love, the land that we farm. This is what we're talking about when we're talking about addressing climate change. Moving away from fossil fuels, investing in clean renewable energy that is better for us, better for the planet and better for our pocketbooks on all fronts. We're talking about things that are important to all of us as people.

So we talk about criminal justice reform. This is an area where we have bipartisan support. Where people across this country are seeing their lives damaged, families being torn apart by this broken justice system. By a failed war on drugs, where people are still being thrown in prison for basic marijuana violations. This is why in Congress I've introduced the only bipartisan bill in Congress that would finally end the federal marijuana prohibition to begin that process. These are things that are important to all of us. We look at the opioid crisis and the epidemic and the toll that it's taking on families across the country. See how big pharma is responsible for proliferating these highly addictive drugs, cheating and lying to people about how addictive they are. Where folks go to the doctor and they get a bunch of these drugs and they aren't told about the risks and the dangers that go with them and we end up with devastation. People losing their lives, families being torn apart, people seeing their lives and their careers completely devastated and then seeing those people who are victims of this crisis being treated as criminals. This is wrong, this is a symptom of what happens when we have a government for the few and the rich and powerful, rather than a government for the people. This is why we need to invest in treatment to make sure that we are providing those opportunities to build that path forward towards recovery and do all we can to hold big pharma accountable for all the damage they have done.

There are so many issues that we need to address. Criminal justice reform, bringing about comprehensive immigration reform. It’s something we are seeing that's happening at the border but it's something that's affecting communities across our country. I've spoken with a lot of folks here today who are concerned about our broken legal immigration system. Why is it that Congress has done nothing? Because of hyper partisanship, people are more interested in the political win rather than actually solving the problem. Imagine how much we could do. Imagine how much we could do if leaders in Washington took off their political hats and just said hey, let's sit around the table and work it out, just like we do in our everyday lives right? At work, at school, in our own families, you gotta work it out. There is so much potential and opportunity for us to make sure that every time there is an election, you don't see the same old tired conversations happening. That we can actually begin to solve these problems. Now there's an issue that is central to all of these that I want to bring up and I think many of you will recognize how important it is and that is the cost of war.

The cost of war is something that we as veterans, we as service members, we as those who have loved ones who served or are serving in the military, understand the high human cost of war. During my first deployment to Iraq in 2005, I served in a field medical unit and our camp was about 40 miles north of Baghdad and every single day I saw that heart-wrenching high human cost of war. Brothers and sisters in my unit, brothers and sisters in uniform who paid the ultimate price. Who never made that trip home. Others who did but with many coming home with both visible and invisible wounds, the terrible high cost of war. Then you also see the reality, that even if you've never served in uniform, every single one of us as Americans has paid the price for war. You might not realize it but the reality is every time politicians tell you, sorry there's just not enough money to make sure the levees in your communities work to prevent flooding. There's just not enough money to build up our infrastructure, not enough money to make sure the water is clean. Not enough money to make sure our teachers are paid what they deserve and our kids are getting a great education. Every time they tell you sorry there's just not enough money, the reality is these same politicians are signing off on and approving spending trillions of our taxpayer dollars on paying for these wasteful counterproductive wars that make our country less safe. We've seen these wars in Iraq and Libya and Syria, how they have strengthened terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. How they have taken such a toll on our service members and military families. How they've taken a toll in devastating the lives of the people in the countries where we wage these wars and how they have sucked the precious resources out of our schools, out of our communities, out of our health care system that we so desperately need. This is why it's important to recognize you cannot separate foreign policy from domestic policy. It's not just one little issue that sits on the side as we talk about all the other challenges that we face. This is why as your president, as your commander-in-chief I'm committed to ending these wasteful wars. Working to end this new Cold War we are in with ever escalating tensions between the United States and other nuclear-armed countries like Russia and China. Escalated by things like what President Trump did just recently and tearing up this historic INF treaty that was negotiated between Reagan and Gorbachev thirty years ago. A historic treaty that made our country and our people more safe, that made the world more safe instead of working to improve it exercising diplomacy and negotiations. He tore it up, walked away and now is sparking off a nuclear arms race. That will make our world less safe, that pushes us closer to the brink of nuclear catastrophe and total annihilation. Oh by the way and also spending more of our taxpayer dollars to build those weapons. This is what we're talking about, this is what is at stake and this is why there is such a sense of urgency. Why we cannot afford to wait to bring about this sea change in our leadership and our foreign policy so that we can focus our limited resources directly in serving the people. This is why I'm so committed to push forward in this campaign, bringing the experience that I have. Yes, as a soldier, but the experience that I have as a member of Congress, serving almost seven years focused on national security. Serving on the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Armed Services Committee, the Homeland Security Committee, recognizing that this issue is central to our ability to be able to address all of the other challenges that we face. Now the obstacles are great. We're not naive to the power of big money, the power of the establishment, but we've got to remember that there is no force more powerful than we the people rise up, united in this love we have for our country and for each other and for our future. Transcending all of the things that are used to divide us, staying focused on our mission. Our mission of service, serving each other, taking care of each other and serving the best interests of our country. That's why I'm running for president, that's why I'm here asking for your support. If you'd like more information please visit Tulsi2020.com and I look forward to coming back here to Iowa a whole lot more and seeing you again. Enjoy the rest of your day here. It's great to see you all, aloha! Another big one! Thank you so much, have a great day.