Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii has announced that she will run for U.S. president in 2020.
An Army National Guard veteran, Gabbard was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2012. She is the first Hindu ever elected to Congress; and one of the first two female combat veterans ever to serve in Congress.
She will be 39 on Inauguration Day in 2021, which if elected would make her the youngest president in American history.
According to the website Vox, Gabbard “seems likely to run as an economic and social progressive, similar to [Bernie] Sanders on domestic policy in many respects.”
Speaking to CNN about her candidacy, she said, “There are a lot of reasons for me to make this decision. There are a lot of challenges that are facing the American people that I’m concerned about and that I want to help solve.”
She then listed health care access for all Americans, criminal justice reform and climate change as key platform issues. She has also talked about Wall Street reform and says a central issue is that of “war and peace.”
Tulsi Gabbard describes herself as a “Vaishnava Hindu” and is a devotee of Lord Krishna. In 2013, she was the first Congresswoman to swear in using the Bhagavad-gita.
“I chose to take the oath of office with my personal copy of the Bhagavad-gita because its teachings have inspired me to strive to be a servant-leader, dedicating my life in the service of others and to my country,” said Gabbard after the swearing-in ceremony. “My Gita has been a tremendous source of inner peace and strength through many tough challenges in life, including being in the midst of death and turmoil while serving our country in the Middle East.”
Tulsi Gabbard again took her oath of office on the Bhagavad-gita in 2017 while being re-elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
During her annual holiday greetings for Janmashtami and Diwali, she often mentions the importance of spiritual values.
“Diwali is a time of spiritual renewal,” she said in 2017, “Observed not only as a fun holiday, but as a time to celebrate the victory of light over darkness, truth over untruth and righteousness over wrong. As we gather for the beautiful Festival of Lights this year, we reflect on the opportunity each of us has to overcome our differences with one another and find ways to be of service to others.”
And in her Janmashatami 2018 address, she said, “The Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna is the reservoir of all happiness. So if we want to be happy, we need to be connected with Him. And he gives us so many ways to do this. By hearing His instructions through scripture, we can be connected with Him. By hearing of His pastimes when He appeared in this world some 5000 years ago, we can be connected with Him. By hearing and glorifying any of His countless names, we can be connected with Him. And by engaging our time, energy, and skills in the loving service of God and all His children, we can be connected with Him.
“So if we want to be truly happy, all we need to do is think about how can we dedicate our actions, our lives, to pleasing God. Then we can actually achieve the highest happiness – a happiness that’s impossible to attain in any other way.”
On September 13th, 2016, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard attended the ISKCON 50thAnniversary Gala Event in Washington D.C., along with many other vips including government representatives, political leaders, religious leaders, and academics.
As the Keynote Speaker for the evening, Gabbard spoke of her personal appreciation for ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya Srila Prabhupada, 19thCentury Vaishnava teacher Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, and the teachings of 19thCentury saint and avatra Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Quoting Mahaprabhu’s Siksastakam prayers, she said that Vaishnavism is not sectarian, but that it appreciates the religious sentiment and expression of all people. She also offered her gratitude to Srila Prabhupada for bringing the Vaishnava tradition from India to the West and then all over the world.
She closed her talk with appreciation of the chanting of the Holy Names of God, as taught by many of the world’s religious traditions. “By coming together and singing the names of God, we can reawaken that love for God that lies dormant in our hearts, and our natural affection for each other,” she said. “Motivated by this love and compassion, we can then use our own lives to work for the wellbeing of others.”
Inspired by these convictions, Gabbard has promised to be a leader who puts service toothers as her priority, whether she remains a member of Congress, or someday occupies the White House.