The Problem with Pete

There are a lot of attacks coming in on Pete Buttigieg on Left Twitter lately, and it makes sense. He’s polling very well in the (very white) states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Pete started out the race running more as a progressive, but over the course of the primary season, it’s become clear that he can’t compete with Warren or Bernie in that lane, and it’s also become clear that Biden is not an unstoppable force as a moderate. So Pete changed his approach and is now trying to appeal to moderate Democrats. We can argue all day about why the moderate Democrat approach is nonsensical and we need progressive solutions, but that’s not this article. You can point out that Pete seems phony or that his arguments are in bad faith (like saying we can’t support free college because then rich kids might want free college, which A) the Ivy League ain’t free and that’s where they’re going; and B) we support all kinds of public works that the wealthy can use and no one complains), but again, that’s not this article. Pete is trying to win votes in a primary election and is strategizing to get them.

The problem with Pete is that he’s a poor candidate for a general election. Pete is the guy if you think that all it takes to win the general election is a few hundred thousand white voters who have soured on Trump but would switch back to a Democrat as long as they don’t do anything radical like suggesting the USA should join the rest of the developed world and give its citizens healthcare. However, there are two massive issues here.

The first is that Pete polls terribly with black voters. He’s struggling with the black electorate, and that electorate is essential. Pundits worship at the altar of the white working class male, and I’m not saying those votes are unimportant, but those are the reach votes. The votes you have to get first are black people. They are the Democratic base and they will win you an election (just ask Doug Jones). We can talk all day about suburban women and college-educated whites and so forth, but if you don’t get black people to turn out for you, you’re toast, and Pete is doing horribly with black people.

The second issue is experience. Even if Pete can somehow get to the White House, he has no experience with the federal government. It will either be a crash course on the job or the donor class will just tell him which levers to pull. Is a donor-controlled Pete better than Trump? Sure. An overflowing toilet is better than Trump. But Pete doesn’t appear to have enough experience or an agenda. The reason there’s backlash against him right now is that he seems an empty vessel for the donor class who would still very much like their tax breaks and little regulation, but would prefer it if the President wasn’t a loudmouthed idiot.

But again, I don’t think Pete will even make it that far even if he can pull out a win in the primary. I think Pete supporters seem him as another Obama–an inspiring outsider who connects with middle-America–but he’s not that guy and even if he was, it’s not 2008 anymore. Our country is facing serious crises and needs big solutions. There’s a part of the country that doesn’t see those issues because it doesn’t really affect them all too much, so incremental change is fine. But that kind of approach is inspiring to no one, and the black community already appears wise to Pete’s act. Pete may think that if he can run the table in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, let Biden take South Carolina, and then beat him in a longer primary. It’s a strategy. But it’s a strategy that won’t beat Trump and if Buttigieg or Biden win the primary, I expect our national nightmare will continue for another four years.

Saturday, November 30th, 2019 Uncategorized

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