Goodbye, Mayor Pete
I was on the Not Me Bus when I heard about a guy with a weird-looking name who was running for president.
And he was queer, like me.
And he supported Medicare for All, like me. (SupportED. Past tense.)
And he seemed like a solid guy. (SeemED. Again, past tense.)
So while I was still hardcore for Bernie, I had a soft spot in my heart for a fellow queer person.
I think I cried three times that day.
The days became weeks, the weeks months, and soon I was watching the first major queer presidential candidate speak on a national stage.
I cried again.
But I was still with Bernie on policy, and so while I loved seeing a queer person simply exist on that stage, he hadn’t wrested my vote away from Bernie.
More days became more weeks, and more months, and his campaign sent many interesting emails, including this one. It was bad.
A third thing that was bad: Pete’s fondness for billionaire donors.
But he was queer, and alone in the field in that regard, so even though I now had a bit of a sour taste in my mouth from his significant flaws, … a small part of me was still rooting for him.
More days, more weeks, more months, and Pete showed a clear ability to raise money, and given where he’d started — without the notoriety of a senator, let alone a senator of Bernie’s stature, and without the name recognition of a former vice president — he was doing amazingly well.
But a theme started emerging in his solutions to the various problems this country faces.
Pete wasn’t Bernie.
He wasn’t proposing to fix things.
He was proposing … corporatism.
He wanted us to look at the groups that had been poisoning the planet and killing its inhabitants and see those groups as … the solution to the problem they had created.
And far from shunning the rich as part of the problem, he … well. http://peteswinecave.com/ is a fundraising site, and not for Pete.
We already knew he would say anything to win.
So the status of Pete’s moral compass … was in some question.
“No, I worked for a consulting company that had a client that may have been involved in fixing or was apparently in a scandal.”
“ But we know, by the time it’s all said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation, because by all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.”
“All” indications did not include much of an indication from the Iowa Democratic Party, which only certified the results of that epically broken contest recently. All we know for sure — because the state party is not going to correct its math mistakes — is that Bernie won the popular vote.
“ But for 184 of [the listed South Carolinian supporters of Buttigieg’s plan to help black communities], the voter file lists either one name, or lists multiple people, all of whom self-identify as white — so at least 42 percent of the entire list is white. And that means 62 percent of the 297 names that can be reliably checked are white.”
“ A Kenyan woman whose image appeared along with a child on Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s website for his plan for empowerment in black America has spoken out.”
“ Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has been accused of plagiarising Barack Obama in several campaign speeches.”
The hits just kept coming.
But maybethe bigger issue, electorally, was that while Buttigieg was polling well enough with people in very white states, he had nearly no support among nonwhite people. And for all his efforts to build support, he couldn’t pry black or brown people away from Biden or Sanders in the first two states with significant numbers of those voters.
The last Democratic Party presidential nominee to win that title without winning the black vote, Michael Dukakis, won when I was seven years old.
I’m now old enough to run for president myself. (If I ever have to run for so much as assistant to the assistant to the dogcatcher, we are all fucked.)
— — —
Having a queer presidential candidate was great. But on policy, he was a centrist in a liberal year (Medicare for All has had majority support in each of the first four nominating contests this year), and on trustworthiness, … just no.
I didn’t like losing trust in him.
I’ve been out since George W. Bush’s first term, and I hurt when I heard that man talk about special rights and compassionate conservatism like my love was inferior to his.
I didn’t care for Obama’s incrementalist approach to queer rights — yes to us being shot at, no to us getting married after being shot at.
I have never seen a competent defense of the Defense of Marriage Act. Marriage has never been under attack. It has never needed to be defended.
So queer things do matter to me. But the fact that someone is queer doesn’t mean I’m going to support them, whether in a campaign or anything else.
Pete couldn’t convince enough people to support him on policy.
The fact that he got this far will astound many people — though it shouldn’t. He was being guided by a veteran political operative, though one with significant detractors. His campaign got the money going, got the media going, and got the campaigning going, and that was after he got a notable boost as mayor. Furthermore, that he was “only” a mayor wasn’t necessarily a problem in an age in which people across the country can learn about presidential candidates the day they launch their campaigns — and start volunteering seconds later.
But with all that said, and with Pete now exiting the race, I hope the next queer presidential candidate is better.
Better on policy.
Better on responding to criticism.
Better on judgment so there’s less criticism.
Better on facts.
Better on authenticity.
Just because someone’s queer doesn’t mean queer people will support ‘em.