Of the current upper echelon of Democratic candidates in the 2020 primary, only one is really a “newcomer”: South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg. On a ridiculously crowded debate stage, where dozens of candidates are seeking to one-up each other with how far they can move to the left, “Mayor Pete” has come across as a voice of reason and moderation, and donors are taking note.
He raked in an astonishing USD $24.8 million in the second quarter of 2019, and has benefited from a network of Democratic bundlers closely associated with previous Obama and Clinton campaigns. While Sanders, Biden, and Warren (and to a lesser extent Kamala Harris) were all household names long before they officially announced their presidential bids, Buttigieg is really the only candidate who can truly lay claim to the Washington-outsider mantra. Andrew Yang has a similar outsider appeal, but has languished in the polls to the point that he has really become a non-factor in the race.
Conservative radio kingpin Rush Limbaugh recently praised Buttigieg’s for his sensibility after the first round of Democratic debates, essentially making the case that Buttigieg’s persona and manner place him at the top of the pack in terms of electability, noting that Buttigieg hardly has the profile of a radical on the debate stage.
But, exactly how moderate is “Mayor Pete”?
Based on the essay that he wrote in 2000 for the Profile in Courage Essay Contest, in which he considers being a socialist to be an act of courage, not very:
“Sanders’ courage is evident in the first word he uses to describe himself: “Socialist”. In a country where Communism is still the dirtiest of ideological dirty words, in a climate where even liberalism is considered radical, and Socialism is immediately and perhaps willfully confused with Communism, a politician dares to call himself a socialist? He does indeed. Here is someone who has “looked into his own soul” and expressed an ideology”
So the moderate “Mayor Pete’s” ideological hero, his guiding light for the very concept of courage and heroism, was Vermont’s socialist Senator Bernie Sanders? The irony seems to be entirely lost on Buttigieg in the context of the Profile in Courage essay contest: JFK (whose courage the essay contest is referring to) lived to fight the global Communist movement, and would most likely not be welcome in the Democratic Party today.
Has Buttigieg progressed from an admirer of socialism to a pragmatic moderate? Maybe. More likely, he has realized that someone who espouses socialism would never be elected president of the United States.
Hugo Chavez, during the course of the 1998 presidential campaign in Venezuela, never claimed to be a socialist or a Communist. Rather, he positioned himself as a “humanist.” Fidel Castro, during the course of events in 1959-1960 in Cuba, never claimed to be fighting for the banner of Communism or socialism. Rather, he claimed his sole interest was in overthrowing the Batista dictatorship.
Hindsight is 20/20, and few electorates, regardless of how poor or how desperate, are going to willingly hand the reigns of power over to a socialist or Communist regime. There are exceptions of course. France elected a socialist president in the recent past. In the last election, the Socialist Party candidate Benoit Hamon, received 6.3% of the vote, placing fifth, as the Socialist Party crumbled into irrelevance.
Buttigieg’s policies may seem moderate compared to those of Sanders and Warren, but there are major red flags, that must be addressed, such as his positions on unionization in the gig economy.
The brilliant Buttigieg, former McKinsey consultant, seems unaware that a unionization model in a company such as Uber would fundamentally destroy the company’s business model, which is already heavily subsidizing the rides that consumers enjoy.
Let’s see what happens when Uber-loving millennials see the prices of their beloved ride-sharing apps skyrocket, due to Mayor Pete’s unionization drives in the gig economy.
In the meantime: don’t take Mayor Pete at his word that he’s a moderate. The reality is that he is anything but.