Mayor Pete Buttigieg was born and raised in South Bend Indiana by a Maltese immigrant father and local mother, both of whom were professors at Notre Dame University. Buttigieg was class president and valedictorian of his high school. During his senior year he won the “JFK Profiles in Courage Essay Contest” where he was honored at the JFK Library in Boston. He had written his essay about his now opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders. He was chosen as a delegate from Indiana to the United States Senate Youth Program. Buttigieg went on to attend the incredibly prestigious Harvard University, where he graduated magna cum laude. He received a first-class honors degree in philosophy, politics and economics from the esteemed Oxford University. Buttigieg was then a Rhodes Scholar.
Pete Buttigieg speaks eight languages, including Arabic (often considered the second most difficult language to learn), and Norwegian – which people only discovered he could speak when he began conversing with reporters in their native tongue. It was at that point he admitted he wanted to read a book by author Erlend Loe, so he learned Norwegian.
While in college, Buttigieg worked as an intern at Chicago’s NBC local news station, and Jill Long Thompson’s congressional campaign (he later served as an advisor on her 2008 run). Buttigieg worked in for former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen’s international strategic consulting firm, The Cohen Group. Additionally, he worked on Senator John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and later went to work as a consultant at McKinsey & Company from 2007 through 2010. He then joined the U.S. Navy Reserve where he became a lieutenant, deployed to Afghanistan in 2014, and remained in the Reserves until 2017 (despite his return to South Bend). After his return to Indiana, he was the Democratic Party nominee in for State Treasurer, but Buttigieg lost to the Republican incumbent. In 2014, he became an Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow, a testament to his political capabilities.
On top of his incredibly impressive career, Pete Buttigieg is married and owner of two social media savvy dogs. Buttigieg would be the first openly gay president, and the second president not to have children at the time of taking office (James K. Polk was the last). He’s also only 37.
Pete Buttigieg, or “Mayor Pete” as he’s known by his incumbents, has been good to his town of South Bend, Indiana. He’s taken on gangs, redeveloped the town, improved urban development, invested in parks, brought in tech companies to improve the local economy, and is focused on creating a family leave program. Now, South Bend’s unemployment is down, the population is increasing, and they’re no longer one of the top ten most dying cities in America.
Main Goals & Platforms:
In an interview with NPR, Buttigieg said that he is focused on what he calls “inter-generational justice.” He has repeatedly voiced concerns about what the United States will be like in the year 2054, which is the year he will be the age of President Trump.
Buttigieg has repeatedly stated that climate change is a national security threat, pointing to the dangerous weather in his area of the country (the midwest), and to the coasts. He wants to improve gun control by enforcing universal background checks, and he is a member of Everytown’s “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” organization. He is a strong supporter of labor and union groups, believes NAFTA caused “irreplaceable job losses” across the industrial Midwest, and completely supports a single-payer health care system by implementing an all-payer rate setting (which would not eliminate private insurance companies).
Buttigieg supports DREAMers, stands against aggressive deportation, and was involved in the famous case in Indiana that involved an undocumented woman who lived in the US for almost two decades getting deported to Greece. Buttigieg strongly opposes sending troops to the border, saying it’s “a waste of time”. Even as a veteran, he stated that America’s policy should be that troops should only be deployed as a last resort. He also supports pulling troops from Afghanistan and believes that Iran poses the greatest threat to Israel in the Middle East.
Pete Buttigieg has been a strong proponent of the Federal Equality Act, an amendment that would protections to members of the LBGTQ+ community. He stands against Trump’s transgender military ban and supports gender reassignment surgery for trans inmates.
Journalist Mehdi Hasan conducted an interview with Pete Buttigieg where they discussed the campaign trail, Islamaphobia, and many hot button issues. After the interview concluded, Hasan admitted to Ryan Grim that he “came to Pete Buttigieg not wanting to like him” but had a difficult time doing so. Hasan and Grim mulled over the fact that Buttigieg worked for McKinsey & Company, which many have claimed a worked to “heighten authoritarian governments”. Furthermore, Grim pointed out, “…There is an entire class of people who after the Iraq war saw that the path to advancement in Democratic Party politics was by serving in the military” and that Buttigieg “is not somebody who has been kind of living and breathing the kind of leftist political revolution for the last 15 years or so.” Grim and Hasan did commend Buttigieg for his political prowess, and even posed the question as to whether or not it actually matters if Buttigieg is completely genuine on all of his stances if he can get good things done.
Some are concerned about the development of South Bend, saying it was gentrification that displaced black residents. Furthermore, Buttigieg fired the requested the resignation of Southbend’s first black police chief due to a wiretapping scandal, leaving his relationship with police officers under scrutiny. In 2015 he said that “all lives matter”, a statement for which he has recently apologized. Overall, Buttigieg needs to work on improving his relationship with non-white voters, who he is having a difficult time swaying as it is.
The Daily Show teased that because Buttigieg is so young and accomplished, there’s really nothing bad to say about him, besides how difficult his name is to pronounce. Buttigieg really would also be a lot of firsts (or firsts in a long time) for the United States, which some would have a difficult time handling. Overall, Pete Buttigieg is incredibly polished, fresh-faced, and well-mannered – which some suspect voters may actually dislike.
Popularity & Electability:
Pete Buttigieg was off to a slow start, but as his message gets out, people have begun to gravitate towards him. Buttigieg’s story of learning Norweigan had him trending on Twitter, the CNN Town Hall brought him a great deal of money, and his pointed attacks on his fellow Hoosier and notoriously homophobic and evangelical Vice President Pence have brought him attention and praise. In Iowa’s polls, Buttigieg has surged to third. This is encouraging to many Buttigieg supporters, as Iowa is typically an indicator of how an election may turn, particularly with Midwestern voters, who Democrats are desperate to attract.
Pete Buttigieg gave a CNN town hall in March which brought him over the mark required to bring him to the main democratic debate mainstage. He raised $7 million as of the quarterly reporting cutoff, with over 64% of that profit was from small donations (you can watch the candidate himself break down these stats on a friendly Twitter video here). This brought Buttigieg to many Democrats attention, as a frontrunner Kamala Harris raised $12 million. This also earned him enough to open an official Indiana headquarters with the pronunciation of his name emblazoned on the wall, “BOOT-EDGE-EDGE”.
Buttigieg has the capability to connect to Midwestern voters, gay voters, young voters, and veteran voters. The main niche he is working to target is the Christian left. Buttigieg is a Christian man, and he wants to reclaim Christianity from the far right Christian evangelicals. He stated that “I think there’s an opportunity hopefully for religion to be not so much used as a cudgel but invoked as a way of calling us to higher values.”
Pete Buttigieg is a bundle of firsts. Buttigieg would be the first millennial president (and is the first millennial presidential candidate), first openly gay president (and is the first openly gay presidential candidate), the first multilingual president in 84 years (the first president to speak over two languages since Thomas Jefferson), the first president in 174 years not to have children, and the first mayor in American history to become president. Pete Buttigieg is a smart, charismatic, and impressive candidate. He is a truly qualified be an excellent candidate, and if the Democratic party can continue to get his message out, there is a chance “Mayor Pete” will become “President Buttigieg”.
Featured image: Buttigieg speaking at the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting in DC of 2019. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)