Pete Buttigieg has dropped out of the race for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. With 25 delegates in the bag, and more than three times as many delegates as both Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the political newcomer’s decision to quit has eyebrows raising. Are we witnessing the first realistic decision in a race marred by careerism and self-promotion, or the machinations of a party desperate to present a viable candidate whom the majority of moderate voters can support?
A Defining Candidate
If Buttigieg doubted his path to victory, even though he is still polling high nationally, then surely the wise decision would have been to wait until after Super Tuesday. He has already pulled off a win in Iowa and a virtual tie in New Hampshire. Dropping out before this most important of days signifies clearly that his main interest is in helping the party consolidate around a single candidate, rather than pushing for the nomination.
Buttigieg was listed in the moderate camp, along with Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, and Amy Klobuchar. His pulling out of the race can only benefit one of these three contenders. When we examine the polling of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in both California and Texas (35% and 29% respectively), it becomes clear that the nomination is in the grasp of the Bernie Bros … a position the DNC fears will harm their electability.
Did Pete Buttigieg sacrifice his campaign to bolster Joe Biden’s chances of becoming the nominee? If so, it was either a selfless action to better the party’s chances come November, or a quid pro quo based on promises of future power and influence. The former mayor’s chances of securing the win were slim but not impossible. Just this week, betting odds placed Buttigieg at nine to one to clinch the prize, a point ahead of Biden and just two spots away from pole position.
Ask not what your party can do for you …
Or Even Bernie?
While Buttigieg’s decision to give up seems to point to a consolidation move in favor of moderate candidates, there remains an outside chance that he may be doing this to benefit the aging Vermont socialist. A son should never be assumed to have the same worldview as the father, yet the late Joseph Buttigieg was, in fact, a devout neo-Marxist and an adherent of Antonio Gramsci.
“If The Communist Manifesto was meant to liberate the proletariat, the Manifesto itself in recent years needed liberating from Marxism’s narrow post-Cold War orthodoxies and exclusive cadres. It has been freed,” wrote Buttigieg’s father. During his highly respected career, he advocated for a “new” Marxism, and was deeply involved in the Gramsci Society; is it possible that a little of this has rubbed off on his son?
Pete Buttigieg has defined himself as a Democratic Capitalist whilst making the case that capitalism, in its current form, has let a lot of people down. It remains possible that his sympathies rest more with the Bernie wing of the party than he has publically admitted.
President Donald Trump has no doubts regarding where Pete Buttigieg’s loyalties lie and is not shy in calling out the DNC for their “rigging” of the primary. Just after Buttigieg called it a day, the president tweeted:
“Pete Buttigieg is OUT. All of his Super Tuesday votes will go to Sleepy Joe Biden. Great timing. This is the REAL beginning of the Dems taking Bernie out of play – NO NOMINATION, AGAIN!”
We can assume that behind the digital sympathy is a message; not to the Trump base, but to the Bernie supporters: You can’t trust your own party, get on the Trump Train and teach them a lesson.
This appears to be game-playing at its highest (or lowest) level. For all his faults, Pete Buttigieg had a solid chance to either win the nomination or demand a spot on the ticket as VP. That the DNC may be cheating their base of a free and fair candidate pick à la 2016 should surprise no one. That an aspiring candidate should play along with this charade sounds the death knell for a party too long mired in cheating, corruption, and Tammany Hall-style politics.
Read more from Mark Angelides.