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It is early, perhaps far too early for someone to talk about changing their caucus vote from one candidate to another. It is arguably anyone's race at this stage, but I feel it is critical (especially in Iowa) to give Pete Buttigieg my support early on.
I really do like Elizabeth Warren, in both policy and style. If she ends up being the nominee come November of 2020, I will gladly cast my ballot for her as I would any Democrat.
That being said, I think Pete is what America needs.
Policy is extremely important, and I don't want to downplay the role it should play in your decision-making process on who should receive your vote. That being said, man does not live on bread alone, and the moral, cermonial role of leadership that comes with the presidency is of equal importance.
What made Lincoln great wasn't his policy positions, but his character as a leader in a life or death situation for our very country. The challenges and divisions we face currently, while not as calamitous as the Civil War, are truly great. We need someone who can courageously face our nation's problems and come to a calm, principled, decisive answer.
Pete is that person. I could go on and on about his credentials (Afghan vet, Rhodes scholar, Harvard grad, polyglot), or the representation he would provide for underrepresented people in our government as a gay, recently married millennial. I think all of those things are valid and warrant discussion. That being said, I want to focus on the vision of America he represents.
There is a current in America's sociopolitical culture that subscribes to a patriotism of exclusion and hatred. A patriotism that believes America's golden era is behind her, and that an amorphous other (Mexicans, refugees, trans people, Muslims) was responsible for ending this imagined golden era. They believe that if you simply rid the country of this other, the magical golden era will return. It is a patriotism of nostalgia and the past.
Pete represents a new patriotism, a patriotism of the future. A patriotism that gains its strength by uniting trans people, black people, white people, gay people, poor people, immigrants, Muslims, Christians, and atheists under the banner of America. An America that is based on our highest ideals instead of bigoted appeals to blood and soil.
I believe Pete can be our Lincoln in this time of strife. He will have my support in the Iowa caucus, and, with any luck, the general.
Thanks for reading,
Tim Nelson is a Des Moines-based activist and social media provocateur.
Photo by Emilene Leone of Pete Buttigieg in Marshalltown on April 17, 2019, published with permission.
Maybe You Should Rethink This
Going through all of the problems with this post will turn this from a comment into a longer message than what was originally written. So instead, I'll try and focus on just a couple of items that leap out.
Let's start with your thesis which seems to be, "The caucus is more than seven months away and people maybe shouldn't be saying they're changing the candidate they support because anyone can win, but I'm going to do it anyway."
Here's what your real thesis is: I supported Elizabeth Warren. She's isn't presidential. Buttigieg is presidential.
Yeah, but so are a lot of other candidates.
Saying you, "could go on and on about his credentials," is a convenient short circuit to avoid an actual comparison. Yes, Buttigieg is a Rhodes scholar. So is Cory Booker. Yes, Buttigieg has an undergraduate degree from Harvard. Cory Booker has a Juris Doctorate from Yale along with an undergraduate and Masters degree from Stanford. Buttigieg understands multiple languages. So does Cory Booker. Buttigieg is a mayor of a city of more than 100,000 people. Cory Booker was the mayor of a city of over 400,000 people.
Buttigieg has never won elected office beyond Mayor. Cory Booker has been elected to the United States Senate.
Buttigieg has never enacted nationwide legislation. Cory Booker pushed through the First Step criminal justice reform legislation.
Buttigieg is a white male. Forty-four of the last forty-five Presidents of the United States have been white males. Only one was African-American. None have been women.
There has never been a millenial president because they weren't old enough. There has also never been an X-Gen president even though X-Gen members have been eligible for at least the last four election cycles.