[THE THIRD WAY] One boot and two edges

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The ascent of a gay, 37-year-old small town mayor to the top six of a presidential primary would only be surprising had a brash reality TV star not won the previous election. Still, few expected the Democratic primary to be shaping as massive it is, much less for previous unknowns like Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg (pronounced boot-edge-edge)  to be polling far above most governors and senators. Buttigieg, known to many as “Mayor Pete” has vaulted to the national stage in the last month. His rise began with his South by Southwest town hall and continued with countless more town halls, podcast interviews, and TV appearances. He is elegant and thoughtful while answering questions, which is why he especially thrives in interview formats.

Mayor Pete is the opposite of President Trump, despite being incredibly similar to him in national political experience — having none”

Mayor Pete’s record as mayor of South Bend is short, which turns off a fair amount of voters looking for an experienced candidate. Mayor Pete exists both as one of the most and the least qualified candidates running in 2020. Like Trump and Andrew Yang, Mayor Pete has never served in national political office, nor has he served statewide. Using these definitions of experience, Mayor Pete might be the least qualified candidate in the race. If, however, one ignores the necessity of federal and state officials as a qualification for the presidency, Mayor Pete might be one of the most qualified candidates. Buttigieg has more military experience than most candidates in the field, working as a US naval officer. He revitalized a town of a hundred-thousand (to the opposition of some), all the while serving in Afghanistan during his term as mayor. He speaks 7 languages, attended Harvard and worked for McKinsey Consulting. In many ways, with a calm and thoughtful manner, Mayor Pete is the opposite of President Trump, despite being incredibly similar to him in national political experience — having none.

Buttigieg is farther left than many candidates in the 2020 field but recognizes that policy is irrelevant until we fix our democracy enough to govern competently. He supports abolishing the electoral college, giving statehood to Puerto Rico and DC, and reforming the Supreme Court. All of these reforms, Buttigieg thinks (and I agree) are necessary before we can even think about other policy, simply because any progressive legislation could get killed in the Senate (which would be solved by PR and DC statehood) or struck down in a reactionary court (which would be solved with Pete’s SCOTUS reform). The SCOTUS proposal might be the most interesting part of his candidacy. Buttigieg’s idea is to have 5 justices be appointed by Democrats, 5 by Republicans, and 5 through a unanimous decision by the other 10. It would force agreement and, counterintuitively, depoliticize the court by giving the parties an official role. Overall, Pete’s candidacy is still a long shot, and voters have to think long and hard about the amount and type of experience they would like from a President, but he has the integrity and ideas to make a good nominee.

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