Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana has been running as the first openly gay candidate for president of the United States. He hopes to achieve a historic first that same way that Barack Obama did as the first African American president and Hillary Clinton failed to as the potential first woman president. However, Mayor Pete, as he likes to style himself, is running into opposition from an unexpected quarter.
Politico reports that in identity politics, Buttigieg has two qualities that are running against him. He is a white man. His sexual orientation is irrelevant.
“Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Ind., has drawn notable support from gay voters and donors for his presidential bid. But interviews with a dozen prominent Democrats in the LGBTQ community spotlight a remarkable collision of goals and ideals in the community of lesbian political activists this year. As the 2020 field slowly winnows, people are divided over which glass ceiling to break first.
“The majority of the women POLITICO interviewed for this story did not want to speak on the record, citing a desire not to damage Buttigieg’s campaign. But especially when compared with the laborious ascent of Hillary Clinton, Buttigieg’s swift rise in national politics hints of male favoritism, some said. Others applauded his run — but feel more strongly about the need to elect a female president.”
Lesbian voters and activists especially find the idea of Buttigieg as president irksome.
“Several lesbian donors and activists interviewed by POLITICO said they see in this election a continuation of the gender politics of 2016, when Clinton’s nomination was a vindicating moment for many Democratic women — and Trump’s position as the GOP nominee heightened the stakes of the race, as well as the burn of Clinton’s loss.”
The phenomenon is eyebrow-raising for people who are not part of the confusing swirl of identity politics that has consumed the Democratic Party. Liberal activists are still smarting from Hillary Clinton’s unexpected defeat in 2016, even almost three years later. Nearly three years of the Trump presidency have not cooled their anger nor their ardor for electing a woman president. It is time for a female in the oval office and thus the first openly gay president must wait his turn, especially if he’s a white guy. The fact that the two most prominent female candidates, Sen Kamala Harris of California and Sen Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts are straight is irrelevant. Gender is the overwhelming quality when choosing a president, not sexual orientation and, certainly, not competence or stands on the issues.
Buttigieg made a big splash earlier this year, a young, handsome fresh face who replaced Beto O’Rourke as the new hope of the Democratic Party, a Kennedy-clone with the difference that he is happily married to a man. However, questions about his performance as mayor of South Bend and the not unrelated lack of support among the African American community cooled talk of Buttigieg being a serious candidate. He is currently below five percent in the poll averages, languishing in fifth place.
The Hill reports that what Buttigieg lacks in enthusiasm among the voters, he has made it a little bit in campaign contributions, especially from deep blue state California. Big Tech and Hollywood are puffing up Mayor Pete, keeping his campaign alive so that, perhaps, he could still come out on top as other candidates have their days in the sun before faltering.
The main motive does not seem to be sexual orientation and it is certainly not race and gender. It is something else, a quality that some donors find attractive in a year in which the Democratic frontrunners seem elderly,
“And in California, Buttigieg’s youth, at age 37, is a plus, not a minus. Most big donors made their marks — and their millions — when they were much younger than he is now. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg started building his fortune before he left college. Hollywood mogul David Geffen founded Asylum Records when he was 27, became vice-chairman of Warner Bros. Studios by 32, and retired (for just a little while) at age 34.”
Youth certainly worked for John and Bobby Kennedy as a selling point, with all that passing the torch to a new generation meme. It speaks volumes of where the 21st Century is at that Mayor Pete’s young age may be a more beneficial quality politically than whom he sleeps with after a hard day of campaigning.