Moving on from Beto O’Rourke to Pete Buttigieg

by Morris Katz – Nov 11, 2019 (, abridged)

I’ve spent most of the democratic primary more focused on promoting Beto O’Rourke than on evaluating all of the other candidates for what they have to offer. I was completely swept up in Beto-mania during his groundbreaking Senate race against Ted Cruz, and I rode the wave into the primary, even as it became apparent that Betomania didn’t hold up on a national stage. Following his departure from the race last week, I found myself in an unfamiliar place… as an uncommitted voter. From the time I could read, I’ve been invested in politics.

This past week or so, pouring over interviews and speeches and policy proposals of Mayor Pete’s I see the desires to unify a divided county and to make government work better for those who need it, through hope and change. His religious inclinations and thoughtfulness ground him as a deeply moral leader, incredibly reminiscent of The West Wing’s very own President Bartlett.

Buttigieg speaks more languages than I can count, he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard before attending Oxford — and then served as a naval intelligence officer. He’s brilliant but more to the point, his brilliance remains focused on how to better our government’s ability to be responsive to the needs of the people.

It’s possible to be both a moderate candidate and a change candidate because real, tangible action, would be the biggest change of all and that’s most likely to happen under a Buttigieg administration where the policy proposals are both pragmatic and progressive but also achievable. He will restore faith that government can work, that government can make peoples’ lives easier.

Buttigieg is the candidate who will get those roads paved, who is not merely a “change candidate” but would be a “change president.” He can restore our faith in government as a means of improving people’s lives. At time when Americans have never been more cynical about the role and ability of government to improve their lives, we need a president like Buttigieg.

Just look at what Buttigieg did in Southbend, Indiana — taking a city in decline and transforming it into a city on the rise by rebuilding deserted property, by cultivating an influx of private-public partnerships. He transformed a closed auto plant into a tech hub. That’s not just a major accomplishment, but a sign of what he could accomplish on a national stage. His midwestern roots won’t just be helpful in defeating Trump, they’ll be helpful in revitalizing the region. Even something as seemingly small as the long-term sewer control plan implemented under Mayor Pete — that saves money and reduce waste — is emblematic of the fact that he simply makes government work better.

His idea for expanding the Supreme Court to 15 justices is a perfect example of Buttigieg’s bold, change-making pragmatism and intellectual acuity. Adding 6 bipartisan judges who are respected on both sides is exactly what we need to save our increasingly politicized justice system for the generations to come. Medicare for all who want it and free college for those who need it are much more sensible approaches than the alternatives currently being proposed. We don’t need to pay for college for everyone. The wealthiest among us, if they can afford a billionaire’s tax, can sure as hell afford to pay for their children’s college. That’s why Buttigieg’s plan that makes college free for families with annual incomes under $100k (and with reduced tuition for households earning less than $150k) is the best plan. And let’s allow people to stay on their private health insurance plans if they like them or if their unions negotiated them at the expense of their paychecks. Another proposal, the Douglass plan, is a comprehensive and brilliant means of addressing institutionalized racism. Understanding that a piecemeal approach doesn’t work when you’re trying to solve systemic problems that have contaminated every aspect of our society, Buttigieg’s plan seeks to address injustices from maternal mortality to education to environmental justice (or injustice really) and invest in an equitable future. As he is still paying off his own student debt, he has a nuanced and practical plan for reducing current student debt and groundbreaking proposals for expanding disability rights.

On a personal level, our politics are forcing Americans away from one another. This politics of divisiveness isn’t just ripping apart our country — it’s ripping apart our lives. On the trail, Buttigieg actually talks about this. He talks about how under a Buttigieg presidency we wouldn’t have to approach Thanksgiving anxious over potential political disagreements. We wouldn’t have to be so angry all the time. The office of the President plays a significant role in setting the disposition for the country. There’s no one I’d rather have setting that tone than Pete Buttigieg. There’s no one better equipped to mend the moral fabric of our nation than Pete Buttigieg. Buttigieg has made it clear that healing this wounded nation is his priority. That’s what we need right now. A changed, unified nation that once again, believes in government. We can’t have that if we choose politics as usual.

As a younger, outsider candidate the new lens with which he approaches the old and tired issues that consume our politics is incredibly refreshing. There’s no longer a vast field of young and viable candidates. Buttigieg is the only remaining candidate under 70 who has a real shot at the nomination. I will not vote for an older candidate. Not just because I don’t think either Senator Warren or Senator Sanders (two of my favorite Senators) would be a particularly effective general election candidate. Not just because I worry that Biden doesn’t ignite the energy amongst the base that will be needed to oust Trump. It’s because our politics have failed. The leaders of the past have failed and now the younger generation is looking at their future and knows that we can not go on like this. Young voters know that change is necessary.

In a primary where other candidates are focused on fighting against half of America, Pete Buttigieg is focused on fighting for all of America. This is most important election we may ever be a part of, but this is also a pivotal moment for our nation and we must put forward a candidate who won’t just win us the election but will win us the future.

No child, regardless of color or religion, of how they identify, regardless of who they pray to or who they love or their party affiliation should feel as though they are not a part of this country, as though they don’t belong. In Pete Buttigieg’s America, no child will. In Pete Buttigieg’s America, a child could wake up at 6am and make their way to the couch and turn on the TV. They could watch him campaign and speak and govern and be drawn towards a feeling they may not be able to describe. The magnetism of hope. The undeniable potency of a belief that we are beholden to one another and collectively obliged to fight for a better future for all.

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