South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg has a good claim to be Trump’s opposite. Trump found a way out of the draft; Buttigieg volunteered to serve. Buttigieg is married to his one and only spouse, Chasten; Trump has had three wives, apparently more than one adulterous relationship and a list of more than a dozen accusers who say he sexually assaulted or harassed them. Buttigieg speaks multiple languages; Trump’s English grows noticeably more incoherent with the passage of time. Buttigieg is 37 and looks even younger; Trump is 73 and looks older.
In Iowa, voters say Buttigieg is “intelligent,” “humble” and decent. He’s optimistic and sunny. Yup, Trump’s opposite. One report recorded voters’ reactions:
“I really like Mayor Pete,” said Lisa West, as she packed up her lawn chair after the Fairfield [Iowa] event. “He just stands for the values that we have, which is people first, not money, getting corporate interests out of government — all the basics. We need to take our country back. As a people, we need to be more active in the political structure, and he sounds like somebody who knows that.”
In some ways, Buttigieg is also the opposite of many of his opponents, and therefore stands out, a real advantage in a field that tops 20 people. Buttigieg is composed and speaks in quiet but firm tones. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) yells for no apparent reason. Former vice president Joe Biden is extraordinarily wary (even for a politician) of admitting errors. Buttigieg took ownership of the police shooting in his city. Most of the other contenders seem allergic to talking about foreign policy or talk in sound bites. He gave a nuanced, thoughtful speech on foreign policy.
Buttigieg’s promise to “turn the channel” offers the hope of getting Trump’s voice and face off our screens. It’s not unreasonable to pine for someone who tries to get the facts right and feels bad when he messes up. Whatever ideological differences the non-cultists in the Trump era have, we’re bound by a desire for normalcy, calm, reason and respect. If nothing else, it has reminded many Democrats and just about all the NeverTrumpers I talk to that we share not only a concern for the rule of law, a free press, an independent judiciary and a values-based foreign policy, but also a yearning, as George H.W. Bush said (perhaps the last president to enjoy broad, bipartisan affection), for a kinder and gentler America.
There are a lot of voters out there who’d like to make “Iowa Nice” into “America Nice.”
[read in full at WashingtonPost.com]