Trauma-Informed Politics

Grace McGarry Aug 26, 2019 (

We are a traumatized nation. And we need a leader who practices trauma-informed care in dealing with us.

As I write this, twenty-one candidates for the Democratic nomination remain in contention. I have a great deal of admiration for most of them and would enthusiastically support them on the ticket. But in my assessment, there’s only one candidate that is fluent in the language of trauma-informed politics, and that’s Pete Buttigieg.

The reasons for my support of Mayor Pete are many and varied, from his unparalleled eloquence to his grace under fire to his aggressive authenticity; but it is his innate understanding of how to address, unify, and mobilize a nation traumatized by a bully-in-chief that hits me in a place I didn’t even fully realize still needed healing. I have no idea what, if any, familiarity this candidate has with TIC as a concept, but I damn sure know its practice when I see and hear it.

When I first heard Pete Buttigieg speak, I had the same thought that virtually everyone has when they first hear him speak — who the hell is this? what the hell is that last name? did he just use the word “ingratiate” correctly in a sentence? And then he spoke of values and justice, of practical steps we can take to make the lives of all Americans better, and I was captivated. I saw something blurry, indistinct, and glittering in the distance, somehow only real in its blurriness but glittering all the same. I couldn’t identify it at first, but as Pete spoke, he gave it shape, contours, shadow, and definition, and walked me down the path so I could give it a name.

It was hope.

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