Blue. In a Red State. Pete Buttigieg’s Outlook for America.
One of the most talked about Fireside Chat’s of the 2-day Upfront Summit was the talk between my friend Joe Green and Pete Buttigieg , the mayor of South Bend, Indiana aka “The Happy Warrior” currently in a bid to become the new head of the DNC ( you can learn more here ).
Joe and Pete went to college together at Harvard. Joe went on to create Causes with Sean Parker, then Nation Builder, Fwd.us with Mark Zuckerberg and more recently another startup, which I’m not sure whether it’s public so I won’t mention it.
Joe and I sat down early in this election cycle and he was the first person I knew to support Bernie Sanders. I think Bernie had cracked 3% of the vote share but barely. As a centrist I tried to resist Joe and argued that his policies on trade and his disdain for Wall Street were too radical. Joe argued that people were hungry for change and that if we didn’t back somebody like Bernie the election wouldn’t go to a Democrat and that the field of electable Republicans looked scary. He said that to make progress sometimes you needed to take bigger steps of change — even if out of the mainstream. He argued that the electorate wouldn’t vote for “more of the same.”
I didn’t believe him.
So as my earliest friend to identify a movement I was keen to hear what he thought would happen next for the Democratic Party. He told me about his friend Pete Buttigieg whom I had actually read about in the press since he was garnering attention as a potential candidate to head the DNC .
- Elected Mayor in 2011 with 74% of the vote, won reelection in 2015 with 80% of the vote
- 34, youngest mayor in the country with a city of > 100,000
- First openly gay executive in Indiana
- Rhodes Scholar, studied at Oxford, was graduated from Harvard
- ex McKinsey
- Served 7 months in Afghanistan in US Navy Reserves
This was enough for me to take notice. His background mirrored the most talented political leader that I know today, Eric Garcetti, the Mayor of Los Angeles. And since Mayor Garcetti was due to address the Upfront Summit I thought I’d offer for Mayor Buttigieg to speak right before him!
Mayor Buttigieg made a very compelling case
- When he entered the mayoral race in 2011 Newsweek profiled the city of South Bend, Indiana as one of the “10 dying cities in America”
- He wasn’t elected on a promise to bring the old manufacturing jobs back to Indiana — a message he knew wouldn’t be true. Studebaker used to be headquartered in South Bend. That model wouldn’t return. He said, “Manufacturing is less labor intensive and always will be. But the jobs we have making machinery are good jobs. I’d rather bring 20,000 jobs back employed at a 100 firms, 200 at a time rather than have them all in one [firm].”
“We’re telling people, look, it’s not going to be the same, but that’s ok. Because you do have a role in the story of globalization and automation that is not that of victim.
Here’s the full video if you want to watch — you SHOULD watch if you care about the future of the Democratic Party, but my summary is also continued below (and before you accuse me of only having Democrats don’t forget we also heard from Glenn Beck at the Upfront Summit )
- People in the Midwest don’t want to hear about the liberal “retraining” message that many of us (this author included) want to advise is our future. You can’t take a middle aged person on the line and tell them to study computers and then come out and compete against somebody who’s 20.
- They’ve lost something much more important than income, which is their identity. “What’s the first question you ask somebody? It’s ‘what do you do?’” Yes, we need to upgrade their skills but with a different vocabulary that preserves their identity.
- Mayor Buttigieg reminds me of the message I heard from J.D. Vance, a conservative writer covered in his important, must-read book, “Hillbilly Elegy”
- He talked about gerrymandering and how the Republican Party has been much smarter and the bottoms-up game of politics where now the “politicians choose their voters and not the other way around.” The next census is in 2020 and he believes it’s important that the Democratic Party focuses on making sure districts are drawn in a non-partisan way.
- The Mayor talked a lot about voter suppression in Indiana and how having a super majority in a state led by Mike Pence “wasn’t pretty.” He talked about how voter suppression manifests itself (listen to the video or podcast if you want the stories).
“The Enlightenment itself is under attack”
- But Mayor Buttigieg is optimistic about the ability of The Republic to survive the onslaughts of attacks on the ideas of facts and science
“It was only 150 years ago that half this country broke off and declared war against the other half. And we got through that!”
- Joe stated that the standoff between Trump’s executive branch and the judicial branch is the first time since the Civil War that two branches of government were so at odds with each other and if it can’t be resolved then “the Constitution doesn’t work anymore.”
“We’re on the edge of a constitutional crisis”
- There are things we can do right now. There are still moderates left in Congress who are susceptible to pressure. We need to establish a level of accountability for the choices they make between now and each subsequent election
- We need to create movements but they need to be run like the Women’s March
“Angry liberals don’t really win hearts and minds. At least not where I’m from. I didn’t win 80% of the vote by being angry.”
- We need to invest in the next generation. We need to invest in internships for example, like the GOP does. If Pete Buttigieg wins election for the head of the DNC he wants to be sure they build for the future.
- The head of the DNC is about winning elections. That’s the job Pete Buttigieg’s running for. He wants to make sure they invest in data and help Democratic candidates win elections. There are 447 people, activists, who vote on the head of the DNC in late February. He is amongst the top three candidates.
- He believes his differentiators are the things that matter in the future. He’s a Millennial. He’s from the Rust Belt. He understands things that matter in 2017 and beyond: Cyber warfare & data, which he mastered with his military experience. He’s not from Washington, which he believes is important to win future elections.
- We need to get away from “identity politics.” Generationally he thinks there’s a chance to get out of that.
“I spent Thanksgiving morning in a deer blind in Northern Michigan with my boyfriend’s father. That’s not a sentence that people used to be able to say!”
- So some of the assumptions that we attachment to people’s identities and lifestyles aren’t going to work any longer.
Website for Pete’s election for DNC if you’re interested is Pete for DNC .
This content was originally published here.