We're Not Crying At Pete Buttigieg's Campaign Kickoff Speech, YOU'RE CRYING
Pete Buttigieg ended his "exploratory committee" days and formally announced his candidacy yesterday in South Bend, Indiana. Saying it was "time to walk away from the politics of the past, and toward something totally different," Buttigieg said America needs to reject Donald Trump's empty promise that America can become "great again" by turning back the clock, or by stoking "resentment and nostalgia" that appeals to "a bygone era that was never as great as advertised to begin with." It's a pretty good speech!
Do not be alarmed by that nearly two-hour timestamp on the video; we have advanced the start point to when Buttigieg actually takes the stage, whew. So it's right around a half hour.
WATCH: Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend announces presidential bid www.youtube.com
Buttigieg emphasized, as is his wont, that he's a millennial who won't be the current president's age until 2054. He also made several affectionate references to his husband, Chasten, although the word "gay" never appears in the speech. But the announcement definitely acknowledged the historic nature of Buttigieg being the first major-party candidate with a halfway decent shot of lasting past the first primaries. He thanked "Chasten, my love, for giving me the strength to do this and the grounding to be myself as we go," and later said he and Chasten knew all too well that "you are certainly not free if a county clerk gets to tell you who you ought to marry based on their political beliefs."
The speech as a whole is an extended exploration of Buttigieg's three main themes, freedom, security, and democracy, and boy it's nice to see someone talking about government as something that provides the basics of freedom, not a terrible tyrannical force that takes away freedom through evil taxes and regulations. Having the means to survive in a complex economy is about freedom, said Buttigieg:
Health care is freedom, because you're not free if you can't start a small business because leaving your job would mean losing your health care.
Consumer protection is freedom, because you're not free if you can't sue your credit card company even after they get caught ripping you off.
Racial justice is freedom, because you're not free if there is a veil of mistrust between a person of color and the officers who are sworn to keep us safe.
You get the idea -- and while Buttigieg hasn't been a policy proposal machine like Elizabeth Warren, this speech was a vehicle for at least getting some policy ideas on the table. Under "security," Buttigieg of course listed immigration policy, and what we're getting very very wrong right now:
We are here to say there's a lot more to security than putting up a wall from sea to shining sea.
And to those in charge of our border policy, I want to make this clear: The greatest nation in the world should have nothing to fear from children fleeing violence.
More importantly, children fleeing violence ought to have nothing to fear from the greatest country in the world.
He also framed climate as a security issue, because if the world is burning and flooding around us, we aren't exactly secure, now are we.
And of course, "democracy" was a chance to talk about voting reform, campaign finance reform, ending the Electoral College, eliminating gerrymandering, full representation for Washington DC and Puerto Rico, and by golly, marriage equality, because the Demos includes everybody, dammit. We can get behind every bit of that.
Buttigieg used his own marriage -- the fact that it became legal at all -- and his father's recent death after a long illness as illustrations of why government matters. Government is not, as Republicans insist, merely an impediment to "individual" success. Thanks to his father's Medicare,
[As] we navigated the toughest of family decisions, all we had to think about was what was medically right for Mom and Dad both. Not whether our family would go bankrupt.
That's how government touches our lives. It's how policies bring us freedom. And when it comes to health care, I want every American to have that same benefit.
This is why Washington matters. Not the political ups and downs, the daily drama of who looked good in a committee meeting. But the way a chain of events that begins in one of those stately white buildings reaches into our lives, into our homes. Our paychecks. Our doctors' offices. Our marriages.
In one of the more moving parts of the speech, Buttigieg imagined what he'd tell his 17-year-old self if he could go back
a couple weeks 20 years, reassuring him that he would someday fit in, and that it would be OK that he was a geeky bookworm who worried about being gay.
If I found him, and told him what was ahead, would he believe me? If I could tell him that he would see the world and serve his country. That he would not only find belonging in his hometown but be entrusted by its citizens with the duty of leading it and shaping it. [...]
To tell him he'll be all right. More than all right. To tell him that one rainy April day, before he even turns forty, he'll wake up to headlines about whether he's rising too quickly as he becomes a top-tier contender for the American presidency. And to tell him that on that day he announces his campaign for president, he'll do it with his husband looking on.
How can you live that story and not believe that America deserves our optimism, deserves our courage, deserves our hope. After all, running for office, itself, is an act of hope.
We're not crying, YOU'RE crying, and wow, what a speech, and what an embodiment of Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" campaign, huh? By golly, Mayor Pete almost said "change" in there, too!
And now it is your Open Thread!
[Indianapolis Star (transcript)]
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