Tulsi Gabbard Does What Most Cowardly Washington Politicians Won't Do

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Tulsi Gabbard may be liberal in most of her views, but she’s managed to carve out her own path as someone who is willing to take controversial stands. Her foreign policy views, specifically her opinion that we never should have escalated the conflict in Syria (something over half a million dead bodies have shown to be a correct deduction) give both sides cold sweats. She also recently introduced a bill to protect “pain capable” babies in the womb, a position that would likely ban abortions after 20 weeks.

Now, Gabbard is taking a stand other Congressional members are too self-absorbed and cowardly to take. Namely, she’s not taking the vaccine right away, saving her assigned dose for someone that sciences says is actually in dire need of it.

Retiring Rep.Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) said Monday that she would not receive a COVID-19 vaccine until elderly Americans have been vaccinated, while blasting federal health officials for recommending first responders be prioritized over the elderly when it comes to distribution.

Gabbard criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a pair of tweets in apparent response, saying “[h]eartless, arrogant, unelected CDC bureaucrats have decided that the lives of elderly Americans don’t count.”

“They’re recommending 100 million ‘essential workers’ (i.e. healthy people working at liquor stores or phone companies) can get the vaccine before our grandparents,” wrote Gabbard, a former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.

“This is immoral and bad health policy,” she added. “I had planned to get the vaccine but will now stand in solidarity with our seniors by not doing so until THEY can. I urge my colleagues who are under 65 and healthy to join me.”

Gabbard is correct. There is no reason for a 31 year old Congressional member or even a 31 year old nurse to be getting the vaccine before your 78 year old grandmother. Nor is there really any reason for any Congressional member under 60 with no co-morbidities to get priority. Science says that the death rates plummet as you get below 75 years of age. Even then, Medicare statistics show that pre-existing conditions are still the primary driver of death, not just age. The push to vaccinate younger “essential workers,” including politicians, before the elderly may make us all feel good, but it’s not backed by data. It also sends the wrong the message about who exactly is privileged in this country.

But politicians are self-absorbed, constantly projecting a higher sense of importance on themselves than actually exists. That’s how you get AOC bragging on instagram about getting the vaccine and Marco Rubio talking about how brave he is to get the vaccine despite his fear of needles. I’m not suggesting either of them did that in bad faith, but I am suggesting they are deluded if they think a single American is going to base their opinion of a vaccine on stuff like this.

Gabbard nails the CDC in her statement as heartless bureaucrats because that’s exactly what they are. Remember, just this past week, they were exposed for attempting to manage distribution of a vaccine based on societal “inequities” and supposed racism. Enough blow-back occurred that they redrew their plans, though the push to vaccinate young, essential workers before the elderly is still clearly based in political ideals and not what makes the most sense.

Regardless, it would have been nice for most of the Republican caucus in the House to follow Gabbard’s lead and put some pressure on the CDC to stop bending the knee to partisan politics. It’s unfortunate, yet not surprising, that they didn’t. I suppose they were scared the media would accuse them of being anti-vaccination, though Gabbard’s position is clearly not that. Again, though, that’s the cowardice I’m talking about. It’s pervasive on both sides of the aisle.

Gabbard is retiring and won’t be in office much longer. It’ll be interesting to see where she goes from here. She’s certainly cut from a different bit of a cloth than the rest of her colleagues.

(Please follow me on Twitter! @bonchieredstate)