Pete Buttigieg or — as he’s affectionately, commonly known as — Mayor Pete, has taken the political world by storm. Who is he? What accounts for his astonishing rise from relative obscurity?
Anyone who has heard about Mayor Pete knows that he’s gay. The fact that he’s enjoying such a surge in the polls, fundraising success (he’s raised $7 million so far this year), and press coverage is pretty remarkable, as is the tantalizing thought of having our “first gay president.”
If we can’t elect an exceedingly qualified woman over an orange monster, at least we could go for this. Buttigieg, who is only 37, met his husband Chasten in the most millennial way possible. On Hinge.
But there’s more to Mayor Pete’s identity than his sexual orientation, as Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel laments. He’s also a Harvard graduate, and a Rhodes scholar — probably the most prestigious fellowship there is in the US. A mere 32 American students are granted this fellowship each year and given the chance to continue their studies at Oxford.
But after completing his studies, he decided to join the military. The Navy Lieutenant served in Afghanistan, which, if voters elect him, would be the first President to be deployed since George H.W. Bush.
Mayor Pete also speaks SEVEN languages — Spanish, Italian, French, Arabic, Maltese, Dari and Norwegian. This last characteristic is especially interesting, as Buttigieg apparently taught himself Norwegian so he could read more books.
While that would sound annoying, apparently Mayor Pete uses his proficiency in the language to connect with people. According to one story, upon meeting a Norwegian reporter, he started conversing with her in her native language.
But perhaps most strikingly, he is a devout Christian, who is open about his faith. As Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, since 2012, he governs the city that houses Notre Dame, the nation’s most prominent Catholic university. He is also the son of two Notre Dame professors.
However, Mayor Pete needs to do better governing all citizens of South Bend. He has left Black citizens behind, gentrified Black and Latino neighborhoods, and fired a popular Black police chief.
Trump’s election showed us that we had to throw all the old political rules and norms out the window. He showed us that someone who blatantly brags about violence against women, spews hatred about Mexicans and Muslims, and eschews the rules of political civility, could sit in the highest office in the land.
Maybe Mayor Pete’s popularity is also showing us that the old rules no longer apply. Still, we also have to look beneath the hype.
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