There seems to be a general consensus that South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg was one of the winners of the two-part Democratic presidential debate in Miami. His calm and restrained tone certainly helped him in his desire to appear a reasonable voice in a party seen by many Americans as dominated by shrill and divisive figures. But there is something very, very wrong about Buttigieg’s basic political approach and he foolishly put it on full display before a nationally televised audience on June 27.
Mayor Pete is running a campaign that is the reverse of what it should be. Short on experience and having never garnered 10,000 votes in an election before, Buttigieg knows he has to offer something unique to draw supporters his way. He has tried to define himself as a Midwestern progressive who can bridge the gap between the grassroots left that dominates the Dem ranks, and the heartland voters who overwhelmingly awarded Donald Trump the presidency in 2016. But Buttigieg has got it all backward. Instead of sending a message to progressives that they need to be more open to Midwestern values and give them a place in the party, he is sending the very different signal that Midwesterners need to be more progressive.
Strange Way to Reach Out
We’re just beginning the combat phase of the primary process, so it is understandable that Buttigieg would seek to please Dem voters with conventionally left-leaning positions on immigration, race, and the rest of the social justice ball of wax. But that is just what his pronouncements on these issues have been so far, conventional. He is not saying anything that will differentiate himself from the rest of the 20+ candidates in the crowded field. The looming promise that he can connect with voters outside the blue bubble justifies his existence as a contender. So why then does he feel an uncontrollable urge to sermonize to Christians about the evils of holding political positions that veer from Dem orthodoxy?
Buttigieg’s sweeping decree on the debate platform that no true Christian could possibly want to prevent illegal aliens from streaming over our southern border was an error of the highest magnitude. “We should call out hypocrisy when we see it, and for a [Republican] party that associates with Christianity to say it is OK to suggest that God would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents, that God would condone putting children in cages, has lost all claim to ever use religion language again,” he haughtily declared.
Such a simplistic statement, waving away all nuance about what is going on at our chaotic border, will drive off the millions of patriotic Christians all over America who are justifiably alarmed by the current illegal immigration crisis. Buttigieg’s remarks scratch hipster leftists right where they live. They love to see conservative Christians lambasted for being the “judgmental” simpletons they so obviously appear to be from the perspective of a vegan coffee bar in Brooklyn. But the Dems don’t have to worry about that demographic. They’ve already got it wrapped up. Buttigieg is supposed to be able to reach out beyond such limited environs.
Repent, Trump Sinners!
Buttigieg has every right to believe whatever he likes, of course, but it is a mystery just why he feels there are large numbers of Americans out there clamoring to have a politician lecture them on the true nature of Christianity. As a political tactic, this is bound to repel far more voters than it attracts. Yet, it has been a recurring theme of his since he entered the race.
Buttigieg delivered a furious attack on Vice President Mike Pence’s faith earlier this year that seemingly came out of left field. Pence had done nothing to provoke him in any way, but Buttigieg was brutal in his assessment of Pence’s fallen nature. “Either he abandoned his religious principles in order to be part of [the Trump] campaign and administration or he has some very strange sense of destiny, that God somehow wants this in order to get somewhere better, which I think does very little credit to God, but it’s the only other possible explanation,” Buttigieg arrogantly told The Washington Post in a March interview.
With these words, Buttigieg was summarily condemning the religious sincerity of every Christian in America who happens to subscribe to Trump’s America First agenda. For months after the 2016 election, if not longer, we were told that Democrats had learned their lesson and would no longer condescend to middle American voters who reside outside the cozy coastal and urbanite enclaves. Buttigieg has moved beyond ignoring these crucial voters to denouncing them in their spiritual lives. This is an improvement?
The Democratic National Committee is justifiably disturbed to see aging warhorses Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Vice President Joe Biden at the top of the heap early in the battle for 2020. The fine showing by Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on night two of the first debate was no coincidence. Maybe there wasn’t overt orchestration, but let’s just say things were arranged in a way that gave those two younger faces every chance to succeed.
In elevating Buttigieg to top-shelf status, however, it remains unclear just how the party has improved its chances of defeating Donald Trump. With his unquestioned support of the progressive mantra that drives Team Blue, combined with his moral putdowns of those who come in conflict with those positions, Buttigieg is merely another divider in a party that desperately needs someone who can reach out to all Americans.
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