When he first entered the race for President, Pete Buttigieg made a splash as the first openly gay presidential candidate, the youngest candidate in the race, and the candidate with the most unpronounceable last name (it’s boot-edge-edge).
Buttigieg was born in South Bend, Indiana in 1982. In his senior year of high school, he won both valedictorian and a national essay contest, which he entered with an essay about the courageous politics of then-Congressman Bernie Sanders. Buttigeig is now running against Sanders for the Democratic nomination. Buttigieg graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 2004 and went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts first-class in philosophy, politics, and economics from Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship.
After eight years of military service, including a deployment to Afghanistan, Buttigieg entered politics as the Democratic nominee for state treasurer of Indiana, a race that he lost to the Republican incumbent.
Buttigieg has served two terms as mayor of South Bend. His biggest controversy occurred thirteen months after he took office, when he fired the African American South Bend police chief. Buttigieg heard reports that Boykins had improperly recorded phone calls from his white subordinates who were said to have used racist language against him. The recordings have never been publicly released.
In 2017 Buttigieg ran for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee, but withdrew his name on the day of the election. He officially launched his presidential campaign on April 14, 2019.
In terms of his economic policy, Buttigieg considers himself a democratic capitalist, meaning that he wants capitalism to work for the people. His site states that “people of color face unique challenges to starting their own businesses, including accessing credit.” To address this inequality, Buttigieg has proposed the Walker-Lewis Initiative, which would triple the number of entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds.
Buttigieg has also made a commitment to strengthening election security as president. This would entail a “nonpartisan and fully resourced election administration” as well as stronger cybersecurity and voting infrastructure that involves a paper trail.
In terms of crime, Buttigieg has centered his security policies on countering domestic terrorism and white supremacist violence. He has written what his website calls “An Action Plan to Combat the National Threat Posed by Hate and the Gun Lobby.” For Buttigieg, a safer United States means stricter gun regulations.
Unlike some of his competitors, Buttigieg has not called for free higher education. However, he does intend to make public college debt-free for lower-income families. He also plans to significantly increase Pell Grants, “ cancel the debts of borrowers in low-quality, overwhelmingly for-profit programs,” and invest in Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Protecting the environment, Buttigieg believes, is a matter of national security. He supports implementing the Green New Deal, including a carbon tax and a goal of moving toward a 100% clean energy society. He hopes to attain a zero-emissions electricity system by 2035. Other pillars of his environmental policy include increasing energy efficiency in homes, strengthening rural resilience to environmental disasters, and committing to the Paris Climate Agreement. During the CNN Climate Town Hall, Buttigieg encouraged viewers to see the climate crisis through a religious or spiritual lens, and considers caring for the environment a matter of man’s stewardship of the Earth. Buttigieg also intends to create a Climate Corps service program to help communities work toward sustainability.
In terms of health care, Buttigieg supports a policy of “Medicare for All Who Want It” as a pathway to Medicare for All. This avoids the frequent criticism of Medicare for All that states that some people like their private health insurance. Medicare for All Who Want It would make a public option available for people to buy into, and eventually the country would transition into Medicare for All.
Buttigieg’s foreign policy is based on the goal of restoring American credibility on the world stage. He intends to establish a higher standard for the deployment of US military forces overseas. Buttigieg also plan to work to reverse the rise of authoritarianism abroad.
According to Buttigieg’s website, “Pete belongs to the generation that came of age with school shootings, accustomed to seeing the harm inflicted on our communities as 100 people die from gun violence every day.” He intends to strengthen gun laws using universal background checks, red flag laws, and banning assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.
Despite the lengthy list of policies and vision, the media has been skeptical of his inability to really deep-dive into reform like his opponents Biden and Warren who have been gaining traction from an increasingly liberal voter base. According to this left-leaning Vox article, “Despite Buttigieg’s reputation as a big-thinking candidate, he’s often strikingly unwilling to commit to specific policies. But cobble together his policy positions from various public appearances and it’s clear that he’s solidly progressive in a way that could satisfy the Democratic base’s hunger for a bolder, less centrist approach to policy.”
Buttigieg consistently polls in fourth place in national Democratic Presidential Primary Polls–following Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Harris. He has been a breakout star in media coverage due to his own media presence and ability to connect to the younger generation of voters–dubbing his campaign “A Fresh Start for America” and announcing, “It’s time for a new generation of American leadership.”
This week (August 16th, 2019) Pete Buttigieg notably spiked in the rankings from 7th to 4th–just after Elizabeth Warren–due to his performance at the Iowa State Fair.
The unscientific poll has not been an entirely accurate predictor of caucus success, “but the state plays an undeniably pivotal role in winnowing the field: Placing lower than third here has proved fatal to nearly every campaign in modern history. And on the Democratic side, seven of the past nine winners in Iowa have gone on to secure their party’s nomination,” according to a left leaning article on the topic.
Reflecting the spike in media coverage, Buttigieg swept 17% of the kernel votes–second only to Biden with 28%. According to a left-leaning Politico article, “the 37-year-old mayor has yet to snag a single in-state endorsement in Iowa, and while his campaign has 57 staffers on the ground, it expanded to that number only recently. It’s a sharp contrast to other top Democratic candidates, who made investments in Iowa last winter to try to identify supporters and build a foundation for 2020, knowing the results here will shape the rest of the fight for the Democratic nomination.” Despite his late start, “the national enthusiasm Buttigieg attracted has popped in Iowa, too.”
Buttigieg has been successful in drawing out a new crowd to support his campaign. According to a Politico article, “Pete Buttigieg is drawing new blood into the world of big-league presidential fundraisers. Buttigieg’s campaign has amassed 94 people and couples who have already raised more than $25,000 for him in the race... But roughly two-thirds of those donors were not among the major fundraisers for Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton during recent election cycles… though in many cases they are well-connected people in their own right.”