Chelsea Manning is a controversial figure, to say the least. The transgender activist and former soldier rose to prominence in 2010, when she was found guilty of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks and sentenced to 35 years in prison — by far the longest punishment imposed in the U.S. for a leak conviction.
On the day she was convicted, Chelsea came out as transgender. “I take full and complete responsibility for my decision to disclose these materials to the public. I have never made any excuses for what I did,” Manning wrote at the time. “The bottom-line is this: I need help and I am still not getting it. I am living through a cycle of anxiety, anger, hopelessness, loss, and depression. I cannot focus. I cannot sleep. I attempted to take my own life.”
Manning served seven years, but then, after more than 117,000 people signed a petition asking Barack Obama to cut Manning’s sentence short, the rest of her sentence was commuted by Obama in 2017.
Now, she's running for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
On January 11, Chelsea Manning officially filed to run for a U.S. Senate seat in Maryland.
via: Getty ImagesShe's going to be running as a Democrat. Her opponent is incumbent Senator Ben Cardin, also a Democrat. He's held the Senate seat since 2006 and is running for his third term in 2018 against Manning.
Manning announced her campaign on the morning of Twitter on Sunday, January 14.
yup, we're running for senate 😎🌈💕 #WeGotThis https://t.co/ynFv6w32np— Chelsea E. Manning (@Chelsea E. Manning)1515935999.0
The tweet accompanied a link to her first campaign ad, which you can watch in its entirety here:"We live in trying times. Times of fear, of suppression, hate," Manning narrates over disturbing video of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. "We don't need more or better leaders," she continues. "We need someone willing to fight."
As you can probably imagine, the responses to the news of a Chelsea Manning Senate run have been quite...varied.
@xychelsea You go chelsea, i'm rooting for you to shake up the system!— Martin van Vuuren #blacklivesmatter (@Martin van Vuuren #blacklivesmatter)1515936159.0
Still, Chelsea Manning has her detractors.
@xychelsea You're completely unqualified to be a US Senator. You have no experience in government, law or economics.— LeftDial (@LeftDial)1515936607.0
It's unfair to many that Chelsea Manning has sort of been billed to us as this traitor of the American people.What she really did was expose a horrendous act perpetrated by our very own military. Yet she's the one who's consistently been punished. She leaked the information, she didn't kill innocent people.
This is truly a case where instead of not shooting the messenger, we vilified her and seemed to forget that what she leaked was the true crime.Many on Twitter pointed this out — as you can imagine, there was no shortage of messages that said things like, "She's a traitor! She doesn't belong in the Senate!"
Like this one, for example...
@xychelsea If you win do you think you will leak everybody’s social security number?— Sean T (@Sean T)1515937578.0
Of course, there were disgusting Internet trolls who disparaged Manning based on transgender identity. While this person sort of tried to leave Manning's gender identity out of the equation, he still thinks of her as a traitor.
There's no need to use pronouns to attack Chelsea Manning, you're just burying the lede! I'm more than happy to sa… https://t.co/dj4G3WPErt— Eddie Zipperer (@Eddie Zipperer)1516027270.0
Still, she was convicted of violating the Espionage Act.
Chelsea Manning needs to get out of history's way. Not going to begrudge her President Obama's choice to commute he… https://t.co/4z9NQGIj1F— Patrick S. Tomlinson (@Patrick S. Tomlinson)1515982198.0