The majority of my posts are critical of the Democratic Party. I point out the Party’s shortcomings, where its rhetoric doesn’t match its actions, or where its ambitions are so lofty and spoken of in all-inclusive, expansive language that they fail to properly convey how to achieve what they want to achieve, or why people should pay attention. They fail to ground their plans and convince those who think they’re opposed to those plans that, in reality, they aren’t opposed—the fact that the majority of Americans support action on climate change, universal healthcare, higher taxes on the rich, and plenty of other staunchly Democratic planks (let’s not forget universal background checks on gun purchases) speaks to a failure of messaging. The ideas aren’t the problem.
In the 2016 election, I backed the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. Talk about someone who tells it like it is, Bernie was out in interviews, rallies, and debates saying, in very simple terms, the problem is the following:
Money is corrupting our politics. This should be of concern because money is increasingly being concentrated in the hands of the very few, and those few have now found a way to wield more power by influencing those in power through SuperPACs. Corporate greed is stagnating the living standards of Americans because, rather than pay a fair wage or provide benefits, they’ve decided to hoard all of that money, lobby against wages and unions, and, when they’ve found an even more economical solution, they pack up and leave, leaving their workers unemployed and without adequate recourse.
Bernie’s critiques were primarily classist. Yes, there is still a difference between the livelihoods of blacks and whites, and yes, systemic racism continues to influence the perceptions of those in power in a negative way. But if we recognized that racial divisions were another way that the elites controlled us, we would realize that we 99% are more united economically than we are divided because of our race. Systemic sexism was another societal norm that was superseded by classist explanations. Bernie’s answers to almost every question pivoted the conversation back to a classist viewpoint—this was what most frustrated me about him. It seemed that he was giving the same answer to every problem, even to the point of caricature, since his wording was seldom different. Maybe he was trying to hammer that message home, but in doing so, he failed to say more about that message.
This time around, I am throwing my support behind Peter Buttigieg, or Mayor Pete, as he is sometimes called. I’ll explain why with a brief aside: When looking for a lead plaintiff to file a class action lawsuit, one wants to find the ideal candidate who will represent the class. That ideal candidate depends on the case that is about to be filed, but that there are ideal criteria to meet remains true. Pete, as I will now call him, checks off the following ideal candidate boxes.
- Veteran (conservatives won’t immediately dismiss him)
- Millennial (young people should pay attention)
- Prior Executive Experience (able to cite unique problems, actions, and results)
- Openly Gay Man (this time around, the diversity card is strong)
- He Called Mike Pence a Religious Fanatic (telling it like it is)
That last check box is actually what made me jump on board. Without boring you with the details of my personal religious journey, my first exposure to Pete came from his interview with Colbert. Buttigieg used a specific word, “fanatic,” rather than “crazy religious person,” or “misguided Christian,” to explain that, while Pence—who was governor while Pete was mayor—was pleasant enough in person, his personal religious ideas convinced him that Pete was simply leaving the gay switch on. Pence wasn’t an apple in Hillary’s “Basket of Deplorables.” There was no lumping. Pete was careful to keep the conversation focused on Pence, rather than delve and extrapolate to a general statement that is oftentimes more problematic than it is helpful.
Since Pete was going to be in the area, I decided to go see him speak in a Politics and Prose bookstore. Again, my only exposure to the man was the Colbert interview. After seeing him speak in person, however, I want Pete on every news channel, newspaper, meme account, and YouTube Ad (maybe once they sort out that whole child exploitation mess). He spoke in a deliberate manner about diverse topics, from a data-driven approach to community engagement, to the literary influences behind the (positive) way he perceives politics. He understood that Republicans were killing it in the messaging department, despite the fact that most of Americans support Democratic ideas. He understood that Democrats could win the war of ideas if only they had a way to speak about the battles. That way could not be through copy-and-paste slogans, responses, or by jumping on bandwagons, tweeting about the jump, but not explaining why the bandwagon exists in the first place, or whether the bandwagon is the most secure transport.
I am glad that Bernie is running. Just like with Pete, I did not need a lot of exposure to measure his authenticity and know that he was the one I’d support. Unlike Bernie, Pete’s background as a scholar, coupled with his veteran experience, should make him better prepared to address the international issues that Bernie seemed eager to avoid, as well as answer questions in such a way as to not sound repetitive or shallow. “Freedom, Democracy, and Security” are the three words you’d expect to see on the bumper sticker of a Republican candidate. If Pete successfully gets on the debate stage, they’ll be the words you see on a Democratic one.
Here’s his website: https://www.peteforamerica.com/