Thinking the past 2 weeks on this post has brought me to question whether there is actually a path for Pete and if there is one, if he would even take it. So it happens that I began questioning my support for Pete and whether he is the right person to lead us out of this quagmire.
Buttigieg’s straightforward responses and down to earth persona allows us to connect with him. We then move to content and his responses showed a nuanced, informed approach to what needs to change in this country. But, alas, this will not be enough. I had tweeted before the second debates that the country needed to see his passion and I was left wanting. I still do not see him connect on a gut level–the level that produces an “aha!” moment deep within the listener and the mind marries the heart and a lasting connection is made.
The only candidate that gets close to that is Elizabeth Warren and on this alone, if she continues, will cement her capturing the nomination, no matter how leftist the Republicans will then paint her. She has showed that she has the guts and the drive and the know how to steer this country in the right direction.
So what is really the path for Pete? If landing a cabinet position or a VP spot is his mere aim, then continue on, no changes. If you want to capture the nomination you will have to capture the hearts and minds of the electorate–and be better than Warren at it. So what needs to happen?
1. Stop ignoring the pink elephant in the room– I have not heard you once talk on a national stage about your personal struggle as a gay man but more importantly on how you feel that will affect how people view you and vote for you. (I don’t know how this was handled when you first ran for mayor, but if putting it in the backgroun worked before, I don’t think it will now.) You WILL have to talk about this and talk about it in the best way you know how: being vulnerable by talking about an intensely private matter in a most elegant, honest, and thoughtful manner. This brings to mind the quotations on my email signature:
“To be a spiritual warrior, one must have a broken heart; without a broken heart and the sense of tenderness and vulnerability, your warriorship is untrustworthy. ~Chögyam Trungpa”
“The ancient bodhisattvas were not afraid of, but found joy in failure, poverty and death — and in doing small things. ~Shunryu Suzuki”
2. While the Douglass Plan does help, do not make Bernie’s mistake in the last go around. You need to be able to connect with racial minorities in a REAL way, you feel me? Yes what you are advocating for helps all Americans of all colors, we know that. Thoughts, plans, and ideas are all well and good but are you going to elaborate on the inroads that you made in your hometown and the lessons learned going forward, for example? How will you extrapolate that into a national outlook? Do you think that church going minorities do not talk about the fact that you are gay? Do you see the women candidates not talking vociferously about the fact that they are women? What do you see the colors of the cloth you weave of those closest around you looking like? Speak to this truth, it it exists.
3. Expand on your intimate experience of faith. Carry your faith in your sleeve. This is another sure-fire way of increasing that heart-mind connection–and this will extend to not only minority voters but also to more conservative democrats and disgusted republicans. Do not underestimate the power of reaching out to people on that which makes you similar to them, putting all plans and policies aside. No time in history have the core values of what it means to be an American been trounced. Never before has the electorate been as naive as the last election–perhaps making a turning point in American participatory politics that we will look back and say, this was the awakening moment on the great power of a vote that we had forgotten about. No great nation or kingdom remains great forever if it continues to rest on its laurels and unchecked hubris.
4. When connecting with the voters, you must let them know that you do not want their vote if they will elect you with your hands tied behind your back. That has been the m.o. of the voting electorate for decades–an unspoken hope for compromise or checks and balances at the ballot box: vote the top one party and the rest the other and we will be OK. (Well that is no longer in the age of Moscow Mitch.) Tell them to only vote for you if they also vote you with the freedom to act on their wishes–that means a majority in both houses. Otherwise it is a no go–make this a primordial drive in your campaign for the presidency. You must also steer a bit away from speaking of yourself in context with the other democratic presidential candidates and instead speak of your leadership in a context that only entertains you, your vision for this country, and defeating Trump.
5. One last thought, take advantage of your age and the younger electorate. Since I woke up this past spring listening to NPR’s American Anthem series and I felt that some of those old songs would be so inspirational for your listeners on the campaign trail. Then later I found out about 9 to 5 for Warren and thought how perfect that was. Well, while doing my meditation at the gym, listening to my Pandora station, alas, the perfect song for you came on by Mr. Fluttert, AKA Bakermat: One Day (Vandaag) If you are listening, please listen to it and watch the video,: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BV37Dcxj9s. It embodies all that you SHOULD stand for and most probably already do but haven’t convinced us enough of as such.
So, in short, you need to risk everything to win everything. And in the end, win or lose, you are the better for it, and your country will be ever grateful.
Addendum: I neglected to write about the fact that Pete can also benefit by angling himself as the political outsider of sorts–a powerful draw currently (seeing the political landscape through a young, fresh, new lens)– especially considering the ubiquitous desire to “clean up the swamp.”