Usually, when reflecting on the end of the year and what is to come, people tend to post beginning/end of year selfies or state their resolutions. Instead, I would like to tell you how, this year, a presidential candidate changed my life. In January of 2019, I was lost and scared of the future. Not just in terms of our political climate, especially since 2016, but personally as well. At the end of 2018 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. In January I was coming back to school for the first time since going into inpatient treatment.
While better than I first was, I knew I faced the scary and oftentimes excruciatingly long path towards finding stability and proper treatment. I was too focused on that at first to pay much attention to the primaries. It was early, anyway. In February, during a regular YouTube browsing binge, a recommended video called Pete Buttigieg: The Case For A Younger President from Colbert popped up. Intrigued, I clicked on it, & 7 minutes later I was introduced to Pete Buttigieg, and knew right away he was my candidate. His kindness, empathy, and desire to make the world a better, more welcoming place for everyone was evident.
I educated myself on all things Pete. I found joy, and not fear, in paying attention to politics for the first time in a long time. I also realized politics was my calling. In June, I switched my major to Political Science (after a lot of prior changes) and threw myself into it. When watching Pete’s speech on Health and Belonging in America, he mentioned Bipolar Disorder by name, stating how it shouldn’t be stigmatized or treated any differently than a physical ailment. While seemingly simple, hearing a presidential candidate not just acknowledge, but advocate for people like myself was nothing I had ever heard before. Emotional and inspired, I began volunteering in my area for Pete.
Through meeting others, it quickly became clear we supported Pete for different reasons, and that was celebrated and encouraged. I was feeling better, and like I was finally able to make a tangible difference, what more could I ask for? Then, I was honored with the opportunity to become the UCF Campus Coordinator for Pete. Perhaps about 8 hours after accepting the position, I was told that Pete’s husband, Chasten, would be in the area and was willing to come to my university and speak to students. I had never been more happy to be stressed, and, thanks to the confidence the campaign had given me, was able to plan and moderate a Q&A with Chasten and my peers (and yes, Chasten is just as kind and welcoming as he seems!).
Though I have only been in this role for a short time, I can undoubtedly say it has changed my life. While I’m not going to say Pete single handedly gave me stability (thank you therapy & medication), I can say without a doubt he has given me something to fight for & believe in. I have gained friends from campuses across the country. Most importantly, I have gained hope. I am honored and proud to be a member of and #StudentsforPete. Let’s go into 2020 with fire in our bellies and #WintheEra.
You may have noticed that Pete Buttigieg, the first major openly gay
candidate for president of the United States, is having quite the
autumn. The recent Monmouth Poll (rated an A+ polling firm by
fivethirtyeight.com) showed Buttigieg as the No. 1 choice among Iowa
caucus-goers with 22%, a surge of 14 points since its last poll in
August, and the first time he’s been in first in any state poll. This
coincided with the Pete 2020 campaign opening more than 20 campaign
offices throughout the state, and the birth of the grassroots Buttigieg
Barnstormer movement, which brought over 1,200 self-funded grassroots
volunteers from all 49 states outside of Iowa to Des Moines for the big
Iowa State Democratic Party Liberty and Justice Dinner (LJD) held in the
Wells Fargo Arena on Nov. 1. An additional 1,200 volunteers from Iowa
also descended upon the state capital for the weekend to help blanket
the city in a sea of blue and gold (the official campaign colors, and,
not coincidentally, the colors of Notre Dame University in South Bend,
Indiana, the city in which Buttigieg serves as mayor).
I was one of five San Diego County — and 160 from California(!) —
Barnstormers, for Pete grassroots volunteers who traveled to Des Moines
to essentially be everywhere and do everything for Pete that weekend, to
create a show of force for his positive, inspiring, and unifying
campaign. While the primary focus of the journey was for Team Pete to
make a huge splash at the LJD, which drew an estimated 13,000 attendees
(one-quarter of which appeared to be Pete supporters), the entire
16-hour day was filled with empowering and energizing volunteer events
which created a lifelong bond among the Pete faithful. Whether it was
meeting with the California posse in the morning; standing in the rain
for three hours holding Pete signs doing visibility; hearing Pete speak
at a rally in the park in front of 3,000 Iowa supporters and
Barnstormers; marching behind him and his husband Chasten through the
streets of Des Moines up to the Wells Fargo Arena; or tearing the roof
off the arena (with our uber-cool illuminated wristbands that flashed in
unison) during Pete’s address to the LJD crowd — that Friday in Des
Moines was one of the 10 greatest, most memorable days in my life.
When people ask me what I see in Pete, or why I was first drawn to
him, I tend to fall back on two words: inspiring and relatable. After
living through the past three traumatic years, I have been yearning for
inspiration and the need to feel good about my country and my president
again. When you hear Pete speak, he lifts you up. He’s articulate,
thoughtful, kind, insightful, compassionate, and relatable. He has this
ability to speak to you in a way that makes you see how we can find a
way out of this darkness together, in a practical way that can unite
this divided and rancorous nation. That’s why I’ve decided to put so
much energy into this grassroots effort, and why I, and the rest of our
merry band of San Diego Barnstormers, opted to take time off from work
and pay our own ways to be in Des Moines to do whatever we could to give
Pete a boost in Iowa.
I’d like to share with you some insight into what prompted my fellow
Barnstormers to go to Iowa, and what first attracted them to Pete.
Ramona resident Andrea “Andi” McNew, the founder of San Diego County for Pete, is passionate about Buttigieg.
“The first time I heard Pete was in March on a podcast, and I
instantly knew he was my candidate. I’ve never been this inspired by
anyone before, certainly not enough to travel to Iowa in November,” Andi
said. “Presidential politics in Iowa is totally unique, and I knew
there would be no better way to experience it than to go to the Liberty
and Justice Celebration as a grassroots supporter of Pete. Iowa voters
are informed and engaged, and after seeing it first-hand, I’m motivated
to work hard to bring that same energy here to San Diego.”
Marilyn Tawatao, a mechanical engineer, second-generation Filipino,
and volunteer organizer for our San Diego County for Pete grassroots
group, was drawn to Pete for intensely personal reasons.
“I know what it feels like to be alone, to be different. Coming from a
family of immigrants, Pete’s message of unity and inclusivity resonates
with me,” Tawatao said. “Aside from voting, I’ve never done anything
political, but I took time off from work and went on my own dime to Iowa
because I want to know that I did everything I could to help give
America the president that we need, the president that will unite
Marilyn’s good friend, Gina Opinaldo, a teacher from Orange County,
traveled with us to Iowa. She’s still undecided, but for now has
narrowed it down to Buttigieg and Andrew Yang. Gina was blown away by
the sheer number of Pete supporters who seemed to overrun Des Moines.
“Pretty much anywhere you went in town, Buttigieg Barnstormers in
blue and gold seemed to be everywhere. In hotels, restaurants, on the
street, and especially inside the Wells Fargo Arena during the Liberty
and Justice Dinner,” Opinaldo said. “I saw how being an active part of
our democratic process can influence people to think more responsibly
about how they will vote.”
“With us were people from so many different backgrounds, but we were
all united to help Pete get elected. If he can inspire over 1,200 people
from across the country to travel to Iowa on their own dime, many who
have never been politically active before, imagine what Pete can do for
our country,” Tawatao continued.
Kate De Jong, an organizational development consultant from Bankers
Hill, is also a volunteer organizer for our grassroots group who trekked
to Iowa. Like many others, she first noticed Pete on television.
“I started gravitating toward Pete Buttigieg last spring, around the
time he attended the Fox News Town Hall and handled the questions about
women’s reproductive rights so well. He didn’t let Chris Wallace advance
incorrect data and biased questioning, and instead answered in-depth
his reasoning for a woman’s right to be in charge of her body,” De Jong
noted. “But my support for Pete as the nominee solidified during a
summer vacation when my husband and I visited (rather conservative)
relatives in Michigan. We typically don’t talk about politics with
family since we have differing opinions on policies; however, two of my
in-laws brought up Pete as someone they admired for his values and his
desire to include, not divide.”
Robert Hansen, a 47-year-old gay man from Granite Hills and a
Buttigieg Barnstormer who also made the journey to Iowa, was rather
frank in relating what attracted him most to Pete’s campaign: “His
policies, of course. But most importantly, he can get the job done and
make it cool to be nice again.”
The Pete 2020 campaign has allocated most of its staff to the early
caucus and primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and
Nevada, leaving, for now, Super Tuesday (March 3) primary states like
California to rely heavily on grassroots volunteer recruiting and
organizing. As Pete continues to rise in the polls, more and more people
want to get involved, but they don’t always know where to go or what
they can help with. That’s where our group — San Diego County for Pete —
comes into play.
We host a series of weekly volunteer-training workshops (on Thursday
nights from 6:30-7:30 p.m. upstairs at Lestat’s at 1041 University Ave.,
and on Saturdays at rotating locations), organize house meetings,
conduct visibility at farmers markets and other community events (look
for us at December Nights — we could really use your help!), conduct
phone banks, and in the new year, we will be canvassing door to door.
I serve on the local San Diego County for Pete steering committee and
am helping spearhead our grassroots volunteer recruitment. If you would
like to volunteer, simply sign up at sandiegoforpete.com and I or one
of my fellow teammates will follow up with you.
This is an exciting, uplifting, and energizing campaign with a
talented candidate inspiring us into action. It’s also a watershed
moment for the LGBTQ community. If only Harvey Milk were alive to
witness just how far we’ve come in a relatively short amount of time.
Attending Pete’s rally in Las Vegas on Tuesday was my first experience at a political rally in my 65 years.
As voters, we have a simple task. All we are asked to do is to state who gets the position. And for all the claims a candidate makes, whether they be promises or policy proposals, when the dust settles on election day, as voters, we are left with only the hope that the candidate will do what is promised. And to that, we all have one criterion that is a common consideration for each of us in the selection process, though the degree of importance will vary, and that is the candidate’s character. It’s that momentary glimpse into Pete’s character I was not prepared to experience, and it all came to light in a single handshake.
that moment as we shook hands and looked at each other, he spoke first.
“Thank you for coming” was the appropriate acknowledgement he stated, a
line he repeated many many times that night. But in that important
single moment upon which all time was coming to a momentary halt, I
found myself shifting gears. It suddenly wasn’t that I tell him how
something was important to me, or a policy of his I liked, or anything I
thought would be cute to say as a light comment. I wasn’t the important
thing here, Pete was. I can handle myself. What was important in that
moment was to let Pete know that what he is doing is important and
coming from one supporter, that was recognized and his character was
valued. As our hands clasped I smiled and calmly uttered, “Thank you for
running. You’re a fantastic man.”
never broke eye contact. There are any number of things he could have
said in response to my basic statement. Absent was any sense of ego on
his part having been complimented, or dismissal of it for being way to
sophomoric or painfully awkward. In its place was a genuine respect for a
supporter of his, a seemingly humble graciousness as he said in a
somewhat somber tone and a distinct nod, “Thank you.” It was in that
moment that I heard in his tone and saw in his eyes the genuine respect
Pete has for people, the essence of his values in wanting to truly bring
people together, not for some ulterior motive to be President or ego
stunned me how impactful this all too brief encounter was in seeing
Pete’s character, illuminating how right it is for Pete to be President
of the United States. As we separated so he could move on to the next
anxious supporter, there was that unexplainable moment of coming to know
that the Pete we see, hear, and read about is not some hyperbolic myth
fabricated by the marketing mechanism central to a campaign.
I had read that for people who have known Pete for years will say to anyone just discovering him the thought may be that he is too good to be true. That it’s like waiting for the other shoe to drop, only to realize there is no other shoe. In that handshake moment I can concur, there is no other shoe.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg has a signature promise he makes in stump speeches around the country — a contribution he says he’ll make to American public health.
“When I’m in the White House and you turn on the news,” the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind. says, “your blood pressure will go down instead of through the roof.”
The line elicited loud cheers and likely some blood pressure spikes from about 1,000 people who gathered to hear him speak outside of Reading Terminal Market on a rainy Sunday evening in Philadelphia.
Buttigieg gave a nod to the Liberty Bell, telling the crowd, “Let the word go out from here in this freedom-loving city that freedom is an American value with progressive implications.”
Stephen Mazzoni, of Mullica Hill, attended the rally with his son, Stephen Jr., 11. “Aside from the obvious, the fact that he’s obviously very intellectually gifted: Harvard scholar, seven languages, an Afghanistan veteran, he’s the right mix of nice and he has the intellectual capital to get the job done,” the elder Mazzoni said.
He thinks Buttigieg could surge just before the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses, as Barack Obama did in 2007.
Patty Shuminski and her husband, Bob, drove down from Doylestown. She’s still considering other candidates but said she found Buttigieg inspiring.
“I’m still learning about some of the others but, to be honest with you, I don’t know if any of the other candidates would have gotten me out here tonight,” she said.
‘Mayor Peter’ Holds Rally Outside Reading Terminal Market, Touting Future Without President Trump
Hundreds stood in the rain Sunday waiting to get in to see him at the rally site.
“He’s a very welcome contrast to some of the old guard,” said Austin O’Neill, a 22-year old-voter from New Jersey.
Jennifer Laning, of Newark, Delaware, said Buttigieg had the same energy her mom used to talk about seeing in John Kennedy.
Dale Perkins, of Philadelphia, said he considers Buttigieg to be the most electable of the candidates and that he hits a sweet spot:
“I want a bold vision, but I still want pragmatism as well,” Perkins said.
his stop in Philadelphia, Buttigieg was visiting a city whose
population is about 15 times the size of the Midwest city he runs as
mayor. After speaking to the crowd, Buttigieg told reporters that when
it comes to preparing for the presidency there’s “no job quite like
being a mayor.”