Pete Buttigieg is a 38-year-old veteran of the Afghanistan war and was the Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana from 2012 to 2020.
He has recently managed to capture the national media spotlight due to a surge in popularity and narrowly won the recent Iowa Democratic Caucus on February 3rd. Here’s why I think nominating him as the Democratic candidate for president would be a massive mistake.
Firstly, Mayor Pete is too inexperienced and unqualified to be the president of the United States, the highest political office in the world. It seems like an obvious point, but as a mayor of a small city, he has not had to face the same level of challenges that would be facing the president daily in the White House. If you compare his credentials to other candidates in the race, there are clearly other candidates far more qualified. Joe Biden was vice president for 8 years under Obama and was previously an experienced senator in Congress for 36 years. Bernie Sanders has been a senator for Vermont for over a decade and is ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee. He was even arrested during a civil rights demonstration in 1963 before Buttigieg was even born, showing that he has consistently been on the right side of history. Though it is true that often the public is drawn towards youthful and exuberant leaders, such as in 2008 with Barack Obama, this should be no such moment. Where Obama was the hope in a time of great economic uncertainty with the financial crash occurring in front of Americans’ eyes, the United States now needs a leader with experience and is qualified to repair the mess that Donald Trump has created.
It is hard to know concretely what Pete Buttigieg actually stands for politically, as he has flip-flopped on many political issues already in the race. This not only depicts him as untrustworthy but also reinforces the view that he is inexperienced, with no previous extensive voting record to scrutinise. For example, in 2018 he tweeted ‘I, Pete Buttigieg, politician, do henceforth and forthwith declare, most affirmatively and indubitably, unto the ages, that I do favour Medicare for All’, but now, merely a year later, is arguing for a ‘Medicare for all who wants it’ policy, a watered-down version of the bill. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 56% per cent of Americans support Medicare for All, so why doesn’t Pete? In 2010, while running for Indiana state treasurer, he stated that he made a decision that he ‘wasn’t going to accept any money from the bank that did business with the state treasurer’s office…it would create a conflict of interest’. That didn’t stop him this time around ‘collecting more campaign contributions tied to the financial, insurance and real estate sector than any other White House hopeful’. If he was principled in his own belief that rooting out corruption in the political system was vitally important for a healthy democracy, he would’ve followed Bernie Sanders and only accepted individual, small-dollar donations, but he didn’t.
It also seems to me that his nomination as the Democratic candidate for president would be an absolute gift for President Trump. Trump pushed the idea that he was the outsider and that he was fighting the Washington establishment in 2016, and promised that he would ‘drain the swamp’. Although he is a relatively fresh face in politics and is certainly not part of the Washington elite, Trump could point to the fundraisers with Wall Street bankers and the exclusive donor meetings in wine cellars to push the narrative that Buttigieg is just another standard insider politician, out of touch with average Americans. Harvard and Oxford-educated, Buttigieg is incredibly intelligent, but not particularly representative of the wider American population. His Obama-esque mannerisms and his safe politician talking points make Trump’s informal style appear even more relatable and genuine.
Who do I think should be the Democratic nominee instead? Bernie Sanders. I think that Bernie Sanders has the ‘energy, candor, conviction, and ability to bring people together’ and that ‘he and few others like him have the power to restore principle and leadership in Congress and to win back the faith of a voting public weary and wary of political opportunism’.
I didn’t come up with that quote.
It was written by an 18-year-old high school student.