I’m one of thousands of newbie political volunteers taking extraordinary measures in order to meet this extraordinary moment in American history.
I’m not unique, but the times we live in are. Since 2016, we’ve seen the office of the presidency debased, our elections compromised by foreign powers, the ethics and norms of the White House trampled upon, our reputation around the world sullied, our allies abandoned, our federal departments dismantled and sold to the highest bidder, and our constitution itself mocked as “phony.”
The would-be dictator currently in office, and those who enable him, are a threat to the very existence of America as a democracy.
That is why the 2020 election is the most important election of my lifetime.
Enter Pete Buttigieg
Maybe that new understanding is why I felt such a huge surge of hope and pride and joy when I first heard Pete Buttigieg speak. It was April 2016. I saw a video of him announcing his run for president amidst a large group of supporters in South Bend, Indiana. In contrast to the darkness, despair, and discouragement I’d been feeling since 2016, Mayor Pete was a ray of light cast directly into my soul. His astonishing intelligence, compassion, deeply-held progressive values, and aura of sheer goodness, hope, and joy affected me profoundly. I knew immediately that this man was a once-in-a-lifetime gift, someone with the potential to be as positive a force for our beleaguered nation as Trump had been a destructive one. If the pendulum of fate always swings the other way, Buttigieg was one hell of a swing towards a benevolent universe, a virtual David to fight a corrupt Goliath.
And I knew that I had to do something to help him get elected.
That very day I searched Twitter for information about Buttigieg and saw there were “4Pete” accounts spreading the word. I started my own “4Pete” account and began passing along videos and news about Buttigieg.
But that wasn’t enough.
Since April, like a child figuring out how to play the piano, my political activism has grown. I donated to the campaign many times, attended a half-dozen rallies, and stood on a street corner with a clipboard. I wore Pete gear everywhere like a walking billboard. I started a website to cover Pete happenings. I talked to friends and family about Buttigieg.
But couldn’t I do even more?
I was inspired by many of the “4Petes” I follow on Twitter. This Halloween weekend, over a thousand are travelling from all over the country to meet in Iowa as “barnstormers”. The barnstormers are there to support Pete at the Liberty and Justice Dinner in Des Moines on Nov 1.
Other Pete supporters post photos of their groups doing community service, such as volunteering at a soup kitchen while wearing Pete gear. It’s a way of honoring Pete’s attitude of service. Others work tables at local festivals, canvas door-to-door, or hold house parties to discuss Pete’s policies such as healthcare or climate change. And through social media, photos of these events further motivate and inspire others.
But when I saw people telling stories of taking a leave of absence from work to volunteer full-time for the campaign, I began to consider if this was a level of commitment I could make. As a 56-year-old woman, I’m fortunate to have a stable career, no young kids at home, and the financial resources to make that work. So I’m taking the plunge. I am taking a three month leave from my career to volunteer for Buttigieg full-time, moving cross country to work in Nevada, one of the early caucus states. As I’ve learned, those first four states that vote in February — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada — are critical. If Pete can win there, the momentum can carry him through the primary. So this is the time, and place, for me to go all in.
Why are so many people like me making this extraordinary effort for Buttigieg?
It’s not just a matter of disliking the current occupant of the White House. It’s about being infused with a vision of what our country would be like under President Buttigieg.
Pete Buttigieg to Unite our Country
Some candidate’s platforms are essentially anti-Trump and anti-MAGA. But we already know this president has to go. What are you going to do for us afterward? And how can you bring the country back together when you preach anger, “fighting,” and retribution as the main themes of your campaign? Haven’t we had enough division already? Moving from far right hate of “immigrants” to far left hate of “elites” and “MAGAts” will not get us where we need to go as a country.
As Pete says, “You cannot claim to love this country and hate half the people in it.”
It’s time to move past anger. Yes, I know, we have good reason to be angry. And yes, I know Trump is still in office. But personally, I’m sick of being angry. I want to change the channel and get something accomplished. In the 2020 election, we need to have the vision to look beyond the current shit show to what’s next, at how we can move forward in a positive and productive way. It’s time to reclaim our shared values. It’s time to choose a candidate who just makes sense, who has a practical, problem-solving approach and a gift for explaining progressive values that can get everyone onboard. We need someone whose demeanor isn’t antagonistic, but welcoming and hopeful.
As one of Pete’s South Bend supporters said in a video: Pete is KIND and we need a little kindness right now.
We need a little grace and forgiveness.
Pete’s agenda can unite us. He considers himself a “democratic capitalist” and a “progressive pragmatist.” He offers policy plans that are socially very progressive while being more practical economically than those offered by many candidates. His agenda will not require 4+ trillion in new revenue each year to sustain. And Pete’s bedrock ethics, attitude of service, honesty, humility, and sense of joy and optimism resonate across the aisle as well. That’s why he’s gaining a broad constituency from liberal Dems, to moderate Dems, to disaffected Republicans, Libertarians, and Independents. We need that broad coalition in order to take the general election and gain the Senate too.
Pete Buttigieg Inspires Hope
Pete Buttigieg inspires ordinary, everyday people, people never before involved in politics, to go to extraordinary lengths to help his campaign. To feel hope.
And while outrage can rally Democratic voters to vote against Trump, joy and hope can inspire them to move mountains.
Pete’s hope is not a quiet, sit-at-home hope. It’s one of activism! Pete is already leading by example. He’s not only demonstrated the courage to run for president, offering himself up in service despite any personal costs, but he puts in the work. He often does four or more events in a single day, all while continuing to function as mayor of his hometown. He puts himself out there tirelessly, going in front of friendly and hostile audiences alike, answering any question the press puts to him (you will never hear Buttigieg say “fake news!”), and greeting everyone at the rope line with a sincere interest in hearing their feedback. His work ethic is infectious.
And he inspires us to create community. He shows not tells his dedication to community by hiring the best, most qualified campaign staff, including over 50% women, 47% PoC, LGBTQ, and disabled folks, and having them be a joyous, visible part of his campaign. They are often featured on campaign videos and are active on Twitter. The Pete campaign is a movement not just a man. Belonging and inclusiveness are key elements of his stump speech at every venue. And his Rules of the Road set the framework in which we operate. They include Respect, Belonging, Truth, Teamwork, Boldness, Responsibility, Substance, Discipline, Excellence, and Joy.
“The purpose of the presidency is not the glorification of the president but the unification of the people.”
I don’t know about you, but I want to march into the future with a leader who has a vision filled with hope and positive plans for building the America I dream about. I want a sense of belonging and community with my fellow citizens. I want a new and brighter day. I want to believe that is still possible in the land where I was born. That’s why I am all in for Buttigieg, and why I will give as much of myself as I can humanly give to his campaign.
[read in full at Medium.com]