Her political platform isn’t well-defined yet, but she’s well worth supporting over the incumbent politician. A year ago today, I actually wrote President Obama and asked him to give clemency to Chelsea Manning. It’s disappointing how many people think of her as a “traitor,” when in reality she’s a noble American who sacrificed a lot, but I suppose that’s the consequence of an elaborate propaganda system designed to vilify dissenting whistleblowers.
OVER THE WEEKEND, Chelsea Manning announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate by posting a video outlining the broad themes of her campaign. Manning, a whistleblower who served seven years in a U.S. military brig for exposing systemic U.S. war crimes, was held under prison conditions so brutal that the United Nations formally denounced them as “inhumane.”
While her whistleblowing made her a hero around the world, Manning has also now become an icon of LGBT equality and transgender rights with an act of profound bravery that at least matches, if not surpasses, her whistleblowing. She announced her transition and demanded the dignity and treatment to which she was entitled, while she was imprisoned in the middle of a sprawling U.S. military base, in a brig at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Since her release from prison, she has become a visible and outspoken advocate for the rights of trans people. She has used her position as a Guardian columnist to stake out a wide range of positions, including drafting a proposed law to provide protections for whistleblowers. She certainly has more political experience and activism than many other Senate candidates previously supported by the Democratic establishment (Al Franken comes to mind as one example). If elected, Manning would become the first transgender woman ever, and the youngest woman ever, to serve in the U.S. Senate.
But Cardin’s crowning achievement came last year when he authored a bill that would have made it a felony to support a boycott of Israel — a bill that was such a profound assault on basic First Amendment freedoms that the ACLU instantly denounced it and multiple senators who had co-sponsored Cardin’s bill (such as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand) announced that they were withdrawing their support.
Despite all of this, or perhaps because of it, establishment Democrats wasted no time in mocking and denouncing Manning’s bid to become the first-ever trans woman in the Senate, instead quickly lining up in support behind the straight, white male who has wielded power for decades. To demean Manning, many of these establishment Democrats invoked the primary tactic they now reflexively use against anyone they view as a political adversary: They depicted her as a tool of the Kremlin, whose candidacy is really just a disguised plot engineered by Moscow.