Gabbard insists that despite her fight with her party’s establishment, she’d never split off from the Democratic primary to run a third-party campaign. Those declarations have many high-profile doubters. But in the absence of hard evidence that she’s part of a nefarious plot, what if we took Tulsi Gabbard at her word? What if this campaign is really about what she says it’s about?

Gabbard has consistently been portrayed in the media as an enigmatic figure, someone whose motivations are unclear and who must be hiding something. But Gabbard herself, more so than several other candidates, actually presents a clear-cut rationale for her candidacy. According to her, she is running to end “regime change” wars and turn the tide on America’s history of military interventionism. But the weirder aspects of her career — like her connection to a secretive and controversial religious sect and her views on the Syrian civil war and willingness to meet with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad — have fueled skepticism of her motives. Recent moves she’s made, like her announcement that she won’t run for reelection in the House of Representatives, have only intensified that skepticism…

“I just find this theme that is always smuggled into coverage of her, that she is somehow mysteriously elusive, is a product of the biases of the reporter who can’t fathom that maybe she does have a good faith commitment to reform policy and feel she’s in a position of being able to use the platform of the campaign to continue advancing that,” said Michael Tracey, a left-wing freelance journalist who gained notoriety as a Russia investigation skeptic.