GoGuide goes one-on-one with ‘Mayor Pete’
Maybe the most unlikely Presdential candidate now finds himself among the top tier of a very crowded Democratic field
GoGuide: Are you all in to win the Iowa Caucuses? Can you win Iowa?
Pete Buttigieg: Absolutely. I’m looking forward to visiting with Iowans from all across the state –– including cities, rural areas, and counties that are not necessarily known for being very Democratic. I think that’s really important. That’s why I was recently up in Cresco, a county that Obama won by 20 points in 2012, and then Trump won by 20 points in 2016.
My introduction to the state was as a volunteer in 2008 knocking on doors for Barack Obama in Decatur, Union, Ringgold counties. I know there are a lot of communities across this state that are Obama-Trump swing counties, and I think that’s a big part of where we need to succeed.
We need more voices from places that have often been neglected or felt left out of the political conversation. And there are so many communities in Iowa, whether it’s an industrial city similar to my hometown of South Bend, or rural communities where people grow up getting this message like I did growing up that success had to mean getting out. This president spoke to communities like that, but in a very destructive way, basically saying that the only way things could get any better for us is to turn back the clock. But that is a promise you can’t keep, because there is no going back. But we can move forward. My message is one of generational change, and I plan to make my case to Iowans all across the state for why I believe I am the best candidate for that.
It may seem like a ridiculous question, but are you going to seek the LGBTQ vote actively? Often the LGBTQ vote is taken for granted or is not actively sought after by major party candidates.
I’m going to seek every American’s vote, and that certainly includes the LGBTQ community.
You know, I began my career at a time when you could either be out or you could have a career in politics, but you couldn’t have both. But thanks to the grace of a single vote on the Supreme Court, last year, I had the freedom to marry my husband, Chasten, while serving as the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Things are changing very quickly, but we have got a long way to go. Getting marriage equality did not end the struggle for equality in general for the LGBTQ community. You look at the fact that a lot of parts of the country lack basic protections, including parts of Indiana where I live, where you could be fired for who you are. We see a lot of attacks coming out of this White House on transgender Americans. We’ve got to end the war on trans Americans. We need an Equality Act. I think it’s pretty shocking that the Equality Act that sailed through the House of Representatives is being held up by the GOP-led Senate and President. That’s why we need a federal Equality Act that would protect people from being fired just because of who you are or because of who you love.
You talk about a new vision for America. In what ways does that vision include the LGBTQ community?
Right now, people of color, women, LGBTQ Americans, immigrants and others, feel like they are under attack from this administration. And we need to find ways to stand up for each other and to reach across the different boundaries of identity that we have in order to stand up for the basic idea of freedom and equality. This is a moment where anybody who could be marked out as different is in some way vulnerable, because of the way this administration works. The struggle for equality for the LGBTQ community, on everything from workplace discrimination to trans service members’ dignity, does not compete with the other struggles of Americans. It reinforces these struggles, and it obligates us all to do everything we can to lift one another up in the struggle.
We have to stand with each other, no matter what. Harvey Milk used to talk about the “us-es”—not just gays, but the black community, seniors, the disabled. Anyone who’s been marginalized, or preyed upon, or counted out.
And the only way we’ll move forward is if all of us “us-es” rise together to meet this moment. To make our “us-es” into a bigger us without pretending that we’re all the same, without needing to be all the same in order to put it all on the line for one another.
The struggle for freedom and fairness and a better life reaches far beyond our LGBTQ experience. But our experience arms us with empathy and it fills us with the energy to get this done.
Healthcare is on the minds of all Americans. How is your healthcare proposal better or different than other candidates?
We need to move to universal health care. I don’t understand how we are expected to accept America as the only developed country that lacks this. And, universal health care is popular. Now we can talk about how quickly and how ambitiously we can implement this. I don’t believe we can just flip the switch overnight and expect single-payer to work smoothly. Think about how hard it was just to get the Affordable Care Act, which is a comparatively conservative thing to do now. What I would do is push for what I call a “Medicare for all who want it” approach. Basically, take a flavor of Medicare and put it on the exchanges. And then let people opt-in, I expect that it will be better and more competitive than the corporate options, and therefore more people will buy into it. Over time, it’s a smoother glide path to a Medicare for all environment, which I think is the most attractive destination.
Tell us in a paragraph or two why you want to be President and why this is the time for you?
I’m running for president because I believe we are living at a moment of such seriousness and such opportunity that we’ve got to do something completely different. What happens in the next three or four years will decide how America functions for the next thirty or forty. I think more than anything we need to stand on our values. Values like freedom, security, and democracy. And we must insist that these values do not belong to one political party. So in that spirit, we’re organizing a different kind of campaign, and because this moment calls for a different message, and a different messenger, which I am.
I’m a middle class mayor from the industrial midwest, from a new generation, at a moment when America needs a new generation of leadership to step forward. Somebody who can speak to how growing up with school shootings as the norm; growing up in an age when climate is going to impact our life possibilities and choices; somebody who belongs to the generation that could be the first in history to be worse off than our parents if nothing is done to change our economy. Our party needs to demonstrate that it can speak to every part of the country, including a hometown like mine from the industrial midwest whose story is living proof that there is no such thing as an honest politics built around the word ‘again’. That’s why I’m running for president.
More campaign information can be found at https://peteforamerica.com/.
Cover photo by Treyner W from Strey Photography