Monday, April 15, 2019

Why Not, for Pete's Sake


South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg announces historic candidacy for President.

Pete Buttigieg officially announcing his candidacy on April 14
“The horror show in Washington is mesmerizing, all-consuming. But starting today, we are going to change the channel. Sometimes a dark moment brings out the best in us, what is good in us, dare I say, what is great in us.”

Those words were spoken by South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (pronounced Boot-edge-edge) or as he is affectionately referred to simply as Mayor Pete as he officially announced his candidacy for President of the United States.  The widely anticipated event took place on April 14 at a partly rebuilt former Studebaker factory in South Bend during a chilly, rainy afternoon.

In doing so, Buttigieg, 37, made history as the first open LGBT person to contend for the U.S. presidency. If elected, he would also be the youngest president ever. 

With his husband Chasten on hand as well as his mother, Buttigieg gave a superbly written and delivered speech that mixed solemnity, humor, charm and resolve. He informed an enthusiastic throng (and the thousands of viewers watching this moment on cable television) his background, why he is qualified to be the 46th President of the U.S, his rationale for running and the contours of his progressive policies, which are encapsulated in the basic themes of freedom, security and democracy.

Buttigieg embracing his husband Chasten following kick-off speech.
Considered once to be the longest of shots, Buttigieg has gained much attention and momentum by hitting the TV interview circuit and impressing folks with his earnest, intelligently expressed nuanced policy proposals.  He raised $7 million in the first quarter of the year—an impressive haul given his then lack of name recognition.

Vying to emerge from the “flavor-of-the-month” label, Buttigieg is picking up supporters and has been a powerhouse on social media. He has risen to number three in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire behind Bernie Sanders and yet-to-declare Joe Biden and ahead of big name contenders Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris among others.

People see him as a major antidote to President Trump. Examples include:

Buttigieg possesses a sunny optimism and faith in the sustainability of American values; Trump sees American "carnage."

Buttigieg is a Harvard graduate and Rhodes Scholar at Oxford; Trump refuses to reveal his academic records from high school and college.

Buttigieg speaks seven languages; Trump barely speaks one, and with his breathlessly limited vocabulary he recycles the same adjectives, like "great," "strong," and "terrific."

Buttigieg is a Navy Reserve veteran and served in Afghanistan; Trump allegedly paid a doctor to state he had bone spurs to avoid military service. (Here is what I think of Trump's relationship to the military.)

Buttigieg, a millennial, is 37 while Trump’s age is nearly the reverse.

Buttigieg is born into humble means while Trump was a millionaire before he had his first sip of milk.

Buttigieg is a devout Christian (he even has the gravitas to challenge Vice President Pence on how religion is being used to discriminate against people); Trump rarely attends a church service.

Buttigieg as a mayor boasts that he has more government executive experience than Trump and Pence and more than many of his fellow contenders.

There are many other contrasts between the two especially in disposition, compassion, ethics and morality but I would wear out my keyboard if I try to list them all.

Mayor Pete appearing on The Ellen Show.  Photo: IndyStar
I like Pete Buttigieg for many reasons. While I don’t agree on every detail of every single policy prescription, there is sufficient agreement for me to be in his corner.  (Democrats would be served well if they abandon the check-every-box requirement and ideological purity litmus test for a candidate and instead, back the winner of the nomination process or we are sure to have four more years of MAGA.)

His being gay is not the primary reason to support him but that fact is a huge plus.  To those young kids grappling with their sexuality and gender identity as well as the decision to come out, having Mayor Pete Buttigieg as an out role model is inspirational.  With LGBTQ kids continuing to be bullied in schools and on the internet, suicide rates among this group are higher than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. Seeing one of their own as a possible President will do wonders for these kids and their families.

Of course, his sexuality will be a target by the bigoted right. Already a conservative outlet is labeling Buttigieg as a “sodomite.” Maybe they’re worried.  But I’m not.  Pete could handle it.

I have no doubt Buttigieg will use it to his advantage.  All he has to do is point to Trump’s cheating on all three of his wives, the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct by Trump and the paying off hush money to porn stars to keep his adulterous affairs quiet.

I will support any Democratic candidate who eventually becomes the nominee regardless of their race, age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background or policy prescription. But for me, Mayor Pete is my guy and I will help him any way I can. Just watch him on the debate stage.

For more information, visit his campaign website

A video following his announcement speech is shown below.





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