Why must all the good ones become sell-outs?
By Hope Guzzle
We all know Pete Buttigieg, affectionately known as “Mayor Pete”, as the mayor of Southbend, Indiana. He is known for his big plans to abolish the electoral college and remake the Supreme Court. Or at least he was. Recently it seems like Buttigieg is completely changing the way that he is marketing himself; he is no longer the generational change candidate full of unique ideas, but rather he is just Joe Biden below the legal retirement age.
While he was never a progressive leader, Buttigieg once seemed to be comfortable leaning into some less mainstream ideas, but now seems to be backing away. One key issue that allowed him to gain media coverage in the first place was his plan to reform the Supreme Court. Initially his idea to add six new judges to the court was one of his favorite talking points, yet he now seems to be backing off this. One look at his website and he now has several “promising ideas” about reforming the Supreme Court, and this change is only visible during the few times he brings this issue up. This idea may catch fire in the primary, but it is not something you can run on when trying to win over independents and moderates. This would explain his pivot towards healthcare, and more specifically challenging Warren and Sanders’ Medicare For All plans.
This was most apparent during the fourth Democratic debate when Buttigieg went after Warren for her Medicare For All plan. His main criticisms of her plan boiled down to two things: the divisive nature of her plan and her lack of a plan to pay for her proposed idea. However, he once was a supporter of medicare for all. In February 2018, he tweeted, “Gosh! Okay… I, Pete Buttigieg, politician, do henceforth and forthwith declare, most affirmatively and indubitably, unto the ages, that I do favor Medicare for All, as I do favor any measure that would help get all Americans covered. Now if you’ll excuse me, potholes await.” This is clearly a big change from what Americans were hearing on the debate stage.
This has left many original Buttigieg supporters wondering what happened to their guy. It is pretty obvious that Buttigieg is trying to fill the role of Biden Jr., a candidate that will not completely upset the balance that many democrats enjoy while also not making embarrassing gaffes left and right. And it is working. Mayor Pete had generated a lot of initial airtime when he first started his campaign, however, he began to really lose steam over the summer. This new push has revived his campaign, and while it took dumping tons of Super PAC money and completely rearranging many of his platforms, he is now placing third or fourth in many of the early states. Now it just needs to be decided if “selling out” is worth it.
When Buttigieg announced he was running and started gaining national recognition, I was really excited. It felt like there was finally a candidate that could bridge the gap between moderates and progressives. He seemed like the perfect candidate to bring the party together, but apparently not many other people felt that way because he did not do well in the primary. I fully understand why his campaign would do this, but I have found it disappointing. I loved what Pete had to offer, he was so much more than just another electability argument. However, now it seems like his only concern, much like many Americans’, is electability. I just find this argument to be an odd choice considering we do not actually know if Buttigieg is electable. He’s not called Governor, Senator, or Representative Pete for a reason. While I don’t think that holding high political office should be a requirement to run for office, it is a bold move to claim you are the most electable when you are the mayor of a town with a population of just over 100,000 people.
It also takes away one of my favorite qualities of his: his earnestness. He never felt like just another phony politician. I remember watching the first debate back in June when he fully took responsibility for the police brutality incident that happened in his hometown. He admitted that there was more that he could have done, and to me it felt pretty genuine. No excuses were made, just the idea that he could have done better. So when he comes out completely doing a 180 on many of his policies, it feels like some of that is lost. I cannot say for certain what Mayor Pete does or does not believe, but what I can say is that for me it feels pretty disingenuous.
All that being said, I do not think all hope is lost. During the most recent debate we saw Pete more fiery and passionate than ever. I can only hope that he takes that passion and directs it toward the issues he started off with.
Image Source: Forbes.com