When newly-elected Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard came to Washington, DC, she knew that the American political system was breaking down, and one of the essential missing cornerstones was any sense of respect and camaraderie for those politicians on “the other side of the aisle”.
A Democrat and combat veteran who is running for president in 2020, she recalled in an interview with Joe Rogan how she used toffee in 2013 to begin to heal the divide.
“I was told as a new member of Congress… with Republicans in charge, coming from a small state like Hawaii, you will never get anything done, so just accept that fact,” said Gabbard.
Upon receiving that warning, one of the first things Gabbard did was to try to get to know people, to make friends.
“My mom and dad are small business owners. They have this macadamia nut toffee business, and so I called home and said, ‘Hey mom, can you make 434 boxes of your toffee—one for every Member of Congress, Democrat and Republican?”
Her mom loved the idea—and also sent 435 bigger boxes that would be given to each of their staffs.
It wasn’t long before she was sitting in the House chambers listening to debate when the leadership of powerful committees would begin making their way across the aisle, searching her out to say thank you, and asking how they could get more boxes of the delicious toffee to bring to their wives or kids.
Then, she would hear something like, “Tell me what’s going on in Hawaii; let me know how we can work together.”
“I started writing hand-written notes, introducing myself,” says Gabbard. “Just that one small outreach of ‘Aloha’ opened the doors to these relationships that enabled me to be able to pass my first piece of legislation.” (She introduced and passed the Helping Heroes Fly Act, to improve airport security screenings for severely wounded veterans.)
“It’s because (I was) just treating people with respect, saying, ‘Yeah, we can disagree on nine out of ten things, but on that tenth thing, ‘Let’s talk, let’s get something done.’”
The experience, for Gabbard, directly disproved what we were told in those first days as a new members of Congress.
“It further affirmed what I already knew—what I knew from growing up in Hawaii with the Aloha spirit—that this ability to transcend all the superficial divisiveness, is what has the power to bring us together as a country.”
Share This Bipartisan Peace With Your Friends On Social Media – File toffee photo by Dana Moos, CC