Updated: Jun 17, 2019
By Tanisha Bhat ('20)
Pete Buttigieg, or better known as Mayor Pete, has been surging in recent polls in the race for the presidency. The 37-year-old has made a name for himself nationwide following a CNN Town Hall session where many found his calm nature and policy ideas appealing.
Buttigieg has been the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, a town of 100,000 people, since 2012 and is a graduate from Harvard and Oxford University. Buttigieg also has military experience serving as an intelligence officer in the US Navy Reserve from 2009 to 2017 and was deployed to the war in Afghanistan in 2014. If elected, he would be the youngest president since Teddy Roosevelt, the first president from the Millennial generation, and the first openly gay citizen to ever take office.
Although Buttigieg is the youngest candidate and many people think he lacks experience, he believes he deserves a seat in the campaign because the policies passed by the government will affect the younger generation and that he has the necessary experience to take on the presidency.
In a CNN Town Hall, Pete Buttigieg said, “...When you take [climate change] personally… you're personally preparing for what the world is going to look like, … then I think it gives you a different sense of urgency. I mean, we belong to the generation that experienced school shootings as the norm, right? I was in high school when the Columbine shooting happened. I belong to the generation that provided a lot of the troops for the post-9/11 conflicts, the generation that's going to be on the business end of climate change. We don't have the luxury of treating climate change like somebody else's problem. We're going to pay the bill for the unaffordable tax cuts for billionaires that were passed by the last Congress and signed by this president. And statistically, we run the risk of being the first generation in American history to actually be worse off economically than our parents if nothing is done to change the trajectory of this economy. To me, that is not just a concern for our generation. It's a concern that calls on us to build an alliance among generations to try to make sure that the future really is better than the past. And you don't get that by promising to turn back the clock. You get that by finding ways to make change work for us before we're all disrupted out of a good livelihood by it.”
Buttigieg ran an exploratory committee in January to see what his odds were and whether or not his message and platform resonated with the American public. Fortunately, he rose in the polls and was in third place behind Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden who had not announced his candidacy at the time. Buttigieg finally announced his candidacy for president on April 14 at a rally in his home town of South Bend.
At his announcement rally, Buttigieg said, “My name is Pete Buttigieg. They call me Mayor Pete. I am a proud son of South Bend, Indiana. And I am running for President of the United States… I recognize the audacity of doing this as a Midwestern millennial mayor. More than a little bold—at age 37—to seek the highest office in the land. ... But we live in a moment that compels us to act."
Buttigieg has been going on a variety of media outlets in order to connect with a wider audience. So far he has been on ABC, NBC, Fox, TMZ, MSNBC, and a variety of celebrity talk shows.
Junior Ria Gupta said, “I think [Buttigieg is appealing because] he is young and understands what a lot of the younger voters want out of a candidate. I also think that the way that he talks and articulates his opinions really stands out to me and helps me understand what he is saying. He isn’t like the older candidates who go on talk shows and try to be cool and hip to apply to the younger generation, instead he hopes that the way he talks is enough. He also is going through a lot of different unique media outlets to get to a larger voter base which I think is awesome.”
Although he has not released any major policy initiatives, Mayor Pete has made his stance on certain issues very clear. Some of his main concerns for the future consist of climate change, election reform, making the Supreme Court less political, helping workers recover from automation and job loss while shepherding the economy into a new era.
The mayor has often called out the Trump administration on their lack of willingness to address the threat climate change poses on future generations and pass policies limiting oil drilling and coal mining. Buttigieg has vaguely proposed cutting down emissions by making the country rely more on renewable energy sources and place a tax on carbon.
Another big idea for which Buttigieg advocates is to completely change the way presidential elections are conducted in this country. He proposes removing the electoral college and instead, allow the candidate with the most votes to win the presidency. There have been many talks about eliminating or modifying the electoral college due to an increase in public knowledge about the candidates, but none of them have amounted to any actual change.
Buttigieg has also commented on social issues.
Abortion has been a hot button issue in America ever since Roe v. Wade was decided in the ‘70s and remains controversial after a series of states recently passed restrictions on the termination of a pregnancy. Mayor Pete strongly supports a woman’s right to choose whether or not to terminate her pregnancy but not for the reasons many would assume. He believes that the government should be the last entity involved when a woman has to make such a difficult decision.
In a recent Fox News Town Hall, Buttigieg received a question about his opinions on abortion in the third trimester. He said that such cases represent one percent of all abortion cases and are often used to create an emotional reaction amongst voters.
He went on to say, “Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a woman in that situation. If it’s that late in your pregnancy ... it’s [almost to the point] that you’ve been expecting to carry it to term… Families ... then get the most devastating medical news of their lifetime. ... That decision is not going to be made any better, medically or morally, because the government is dictating how that decision should be made.”
The Supreme Court has recently become very political with the nomination fiascos of Brett Kavanagh and Neil Gorsuch in the past two years. Mayor Pete has suggested increasing the number of judges from nine to fifteen. Ten of the justices would follow the normal procedure to get the nomination while the remaining 5 justices would be unanimously selected by the 10 justices. Amending the Constitution this way would ensure that the court isn’t political and is free to interpret the law without being held responsible to one particular party.
Buttigieg is definitely a fresh face for the Democratic Party and has proposed a variety of new ideas that have the potential to shape America for the coming years. There is no telling how far he will make it, but one can assume that he will go on to continue to make national headlines with his current “people-first” approach.