VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Speaks To U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting

July 1, 2019
Press Release

Honolulu, HI— Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) yesterday addressed the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) Annual Meeting in Honolulu, sharing her views on the importance of local government and federal funding to America’s communities, the impact of foreign policy on the ability to provide needed resources to local governments, and the growing nuclear threat our country faces. 

In the plenary session hosted by the Women Mayors Leadership Alliance, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard recalled Hawaiʻi’s strong heritage of female leadership. Noting that each of Hawaiʻi’s counties have been led by female mayors, she also named Queen Liliʻuokalani and Representative Patsy Mink as amazing leaders who continue to inspire us today.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard spoke about the importance of supporting local leaders with federal funds. “There is amazing work that is done at the local level to serve the everyday needs of our people.  I know how important the resources are that you need to get that work done — to deal with things like infrastructure, making sure our residents have clean water to drink, sewage treatment plants that work, safe and clean parks, first responders, fire fighters, law enforcement and more.”

The congresswoman noted the impact of American foreign policy on the federal government’s capacity to deliver federal resources to communities, the increasing threat of nuclear war, and lack of preparedness and shelter for the American people in the event of a nuclear attack. 

“You cannot separate foreign policy from domestic policy. Since 9/11 alone, our country has sacrificed countless lives and over $6 trillion on wasteful regime change wars in countries like Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan, and on the nation-building caused by the destruction left in our wake,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said. “To give this a little context, we spend $4 billion every month in Afghanistan. Think for a moment — what could you do in your city with $4 billion?”

“It’s imperative that every mayor, every leader at the local, state, and national level stand up and speak out,” the congresswoman said. “Speak out against regime change wars and the new Cold War and arms race that are sucking money out of our communities and threatening our future. Speak up and speak out for peace.”

Video of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Address: https://youtu.be/Ih6kEyrQRgE?t=265
Courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Mayors

While in Hawaiʻi, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also met with the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation and Mayors For Peace, held meetings with her district staff, met with constituents, and hosted a sunrise reception for the mayors attending USCM’s annual meeting. Later today, the congresswoman will address the American Youth Soccer Organization 2019 National Games at the Waipiʻo Peninsula Soccer Complex.

 

About Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawaiʻi’s Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee. She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, and prior to that at age 21, was elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in 2002, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for 16 years, is a veteran of two Middle East deployments, and continues to serve as a Major. Learn more about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard...

 

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Full Text of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Address

 

Aloha! Thank you all for being here! 

 

Mahalo to Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the City & County of Honolulu for hosting this year’s meeting.

Mahalo to Mayor Pauline Cutter for your leadership and for inviting me to join you almost four decades since the Women Mayors Leadership Alliance was first convened. Today, one in five mayors here at the conference are women.

We’ve come a long way since Mayor Susanna Salter took office in Argonia, Kansas in 1887, the first woman to serve as mayor in these United States.

We’ve come a long way in the 100 years since the 19th amendment passed, granting women across the nation the right to vote.

And what a difference we have made. 

We follow in the footsteps of women who have broken down barriers, challenged the status quo, and ensure a better future for the next generation.

Hawaiʻi is no stranger to female leadership — Every one of our counties has been led by female mayors, and we have benefited from the great service of trailblazers like Queen Kapiʻolani, Queen Liliʻuokalani, whose palace you will visit later this evening, where she was imprisoned as she took a stand for her people.  People like Representative Patsy Mink, who was told she couldn’t be a doctor because she was a woman — so instead she became a lawyer and the first Asian American ever elected to Congress — and passed Title IX, creating opportunities for girls and women everywhere. 

Amazing leaders who continue to inspire us today. 

I’ve served as a soldier for over 16 years, deployed twice to the Middle East, and served in Congress over 6 years on the Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, and Homeland Security Committees — and am proud to be running for the highest office in this land, the first female combat veteran ever to run for President. 

I know how important our national security is, keeping the American people safe. 

Having served in the State Legislature, and on the Honolulu City Council, representing over 100,000 constituents in my district alone — there is amazing work that is done at the local level to serve the every day needs of our people.  I know how important the resources are that you need to get that work done — to deal with things like infrastructure, making sure our residents have clean water to drink, sewage treatment plants that work, safe and clean parks, first responders, fire fighters, law enforcement and more.  

We all have stories about the things we need fixed, right? 

Our water mains are so old here, they are constantly breaking, bursting, busting up the streets — our hardworking city employees are on quick response to go back and try to patch up the streets, fill the potholes.

There’s never enough money to do what needs to be done.  You make the most with what you have, do all you can to squeeze and make every dollar count.  

So when reporters ask me, Tulsi, why do you focus on foreign policy so much? Why are you so focused on ending regime change wars, the new Cold War and arms race? Why aren’t you talking about domestic issues — like infrastructure, affordable housing, fixing our streets and water mains? 

I tell them — our foreign policy cannot be separated from our domestic policy.  

Why?

Since 9/11 alone, our country has sacrificed countless lives and over 6 trillion dollars on wasteful regime change wars … in countries like Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan … and on the nation-building caused by the destruction left in our wake. Wars that make our country and our people less safe. 

To give this a little context — the DOD is spending $4 billion every month in Afghanistan … a war that’s been going on for over 18 years. A war that took two more American lives last week. A war that nearly 300 of my brothers and sisters from the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard are going to serve in as we speak.  

Think for a moment — What could you do in your city with $4 billion? 

These are not just wars of the past — the Trump administration is continuing regime change wars in places like Syria, supporting a genocidal war being waged by Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and threatening new ones … laying the groundwork for new regime change wars with countries like Venezuela and Iran.  

There is a new Cold War that is escalating with tensions increasing between the US and nuclear armed countries like Russia and China, a new arms race that is looking to cost us trillions more, while making us and the world less safe, pushing us closer to the brink of nuclear war.  

What does this have to do with us here at home? This is a threat that’s real for every one of us - no matter what part of the country you live in. This threat causes every one of us as leaders to think, what are our civil defense plans? What are our contingency plans to keep our people safe? 

We had a wake up call here last year when we thought our country was under attack— when early on a Saturday morning we got a text alert saying “BALLISTIC MISSILE INBOUND TO HAWAIʻI, SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER, THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

We though there was just minutes to live. Everyone was scrambling, terrified. College kids sprinting across campus. A father lowering his little girl into a manhole, thinking that may be the only place she would be safe. Another parent, with his children on different parts of the island, trying to decide which of his children he would spend the last minutes of his life with.

The reality is — if you were at home right now, in any city or community in the country, and you got that alert — where would you go? Where would your constituents go? Where is there shelter?  Are there nuclear shelters your residents can get to within 15 minutes? What are the disaster response plans? 

What you will realize is the same thing that we did — this is a sick hoax. Our leaders have failed us. They have created a situation where this nuclear threat is looming, create an alert to tell us to seek shelter immediately, but there is no shelter! They have not provided any one of you with the hundreds of trillions of dollars that would be necessary to build the kind of shelters that we would need, all across this country, just for the immediate response to such a nuclear attack, what to speak of what would be needed in the days and weeks to follow. 

Our leaders have failed us. 

When this happened to us in Hawaiʻi, this is when I decided to run for President.  To end this insanity. To end these wasteful regime change wars, new Cold War and arms race.  To make sure that what happened to us here in Hawaiʻi doesn’t happen to any one of you, to your loved ones, to your residents and constituents.  

This is the call to action I want to leave you with — we need radical change in our foreign policy to prevent this from happening and to make sure that our children, our families can live free from fear of a nuclear war.  

It’s imperative that every mayor, every leader at the local, state, and national level recognize and stand up and speak out about the danger of nuclear war. Speak out against regime change wars and new Cold War that are sucking money out of our communities, and threatening our future. Stand up against warmongers and those who profit from war.  Speak up and speak out for peace.

The challenges we face are great as we fulfill our mission of service to the people of our communities and our country. No matter how great the challenge, so long as we stay focused on our mission of service, putting the wellbeing of our people and our country above all else, there is no challenge we cannot overcome.

Now you’ve heard “ALOHA” a lot since you’ve come here.  

Aloha is most often used as hello and goodbye, but it’s real meaning is so much more than that. It is kindness and compassion. It is about being in the presence of and recognizing the breath of life - hā - in others.

Aloha is what binds us together – connected, united by our love for each other, our people and our America.

Aloha teaches us to give without thought of return, that aloha never leaves the giver, but flows freely between giver and receiver.

Aloha, love, is not just a feeling.  It is a powerful force that motivates us to take action for the well-being of others and our country. 

Divisiveness, hatred, bigotry and greed have cast a dark shadow over our country and so much of our politics. Aloha is what our country and the world needs most. 

It is aloha that enables us to overcome the forces of darkness and greed seeking to tear us apart.  To bring people together. Regardless of political party. Regardless of the color of our skin, how we worship or who we love. To overcome the differences we have. 

 

To heal this nation, bring us together, and remind us that it is aloha that calls on us to care for one another, to care for our environment, to make sure future generations will have clean water, clean air, to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars, to fulfill our kuleana.

So I hope one of the things you take home with you from this conference is this meaning of aloha … and how we can live and lead with aloha every day as we face the difficult decisions and challenges before us — bringing together people of diverse ideas, working together to find real solutions that best serve the interests of the people who entrust us to work for them.

Lead with the understanding that all of us – in each of your cities, across our nation, and ultimately all of us on Island Earth are in the presence of and share the same hā – the same breath of life.

In 1962, Hawaiian elder and philosopher Aunty Pilahi Paki noted that Hawaiʻi held the key to world peace, and that key is aloha.

As you go back to your cities, we all send you off with our warmest wishes that we may all find inspiration, strength, compassion, and courage in the spirit of aloha which lies within each of our hearts, and share that aloha with others.

Mahalo.

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