Tulsi Gabbard campaigns with Republican Yesli Vega in Virginia
By the time Tulsi Gabbard was elected to the US House of Representatives from Hawaii in 2014, she was an unknown with little support among her constituents.
In a world of political activism where political parties focus on the most marginalised voters, her campaign showed that it’s not just the most marginalised voters that matter.
“We need to do everything we can to make sure that people understand that the US Constitution means something,” she said at a debate in February last year.
A former military helicopter pilot, Gabbard has been an outspoken critic of US foreign policy in the Middle East and an advocate for human rights and constitutional liberties.
In 2016, she became the first openly gay person elected to Congress and the first Pacific Islander elected to Congress.
Gabbard was born in Washington DC in 1971 but grew up in Honolulu where, in 1991, she got her US citizenship.
Her story is one of perseverance, resilience and hope.
“From the time she was a little girl, she made up her mind, ‘I am going to win this battle.’ Just like the story of my family,” her mother said in an interview with CNN in 2017.
From the time she was a little girl, she made up her mind, ‘I am going to win this battle.’ Just like the story of my family — Tulsi Gabbard
Tulsi’s mother, a former flight attendant, was a single mother to her children. After an unsuccessful marriage, her husband moved out to find her another.
“I went to Hawaii with the intention of working it out with him, as much as I could and as long as it took, but it was like he had moved on, he had disappeared. He had moved on to a very different life,” Tulsi said.
“I lost everything. There was nothing left. I had no possessions left, no belongings left. I was homeless,” she said.
With nothing left to her name, her mother offered to loan her mother-in-law $70,000 and to help feed her children and pay for their education.
But there was a catch. The money had to be repaid once Tulsi and her husband had returned home