The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, has stated he will be launching an exploratory committee for a bid for the presidency in 2020. Though the race for the Democratic nomination has just begun, his candidacy is an important shift in Indiana politics.
Buttigieg’s convictions are decidedly liberal but that is not why his announcement is welcome. He would be the first openly gay presidential nominee from a major political party. In a country where same-sex marriage was only legalized nationwide about three years ago, that is less of a forward step and more of forward leap.
And yet it does present a rather hopeful outlook for this country when a man can feel confident in telling the whole world that not only is he gay, but he's also looking to take the highest office in this country.
This comes at a time when a reported 67 percent of LGBTQ teenagers hear family members make negative comments about LGBTQ people, according to a survey conducted by the Human Rights Campaign and researchers at the University of Connecticut.
One’s sexuality does not make them a good policy maker. However, Buttigieg does not need to represent good policies at the current moment. His race toward the presidency has hardly begun. There is plenty of time to celebrate the sheer fact that he is running before deciding on whether your vote lies with him.
His candidacy is something of a beacon for change in this nation's norms. The amount of non-LGBTQ adults who said they were “very” or “somewhat” comfortable around LGBTQ people in certain scenarios has dropped from 53 percent in 2016 to 49 percent in 2017, according to a recent Accelerating Acceptance report.
Pete Buttigieg’s presidential candidacy and other LGBTQ people’s efforts to rise in society may very well shape the nations perceptions toward LGBTQ people.
Buttigieg just celebrated his 37th birthday, which would put him among the youngest to make significant strides for the presidency. Being just 2 years away from the minimum age requirement to run for the presidency, Buttigieg is perhaps more in touch with the younger demographics in the U.S.
Having such a young president might not change the face of American politics quickly. However, it would be the beginning of a new era.
The president’s office sets the tone for the nation, so it would be interesting to see what the first millennial president’s tone would be.
Rather than a political endorsement for Buttigieg, this is an endorsement for political diversity within our predominantly heterosexual white male politics.
Buttigieg might not be what America needs as a leader in 2020, but what is important are the amount of firsts he offers and how many doors his candidacy opens for many otherwise underrepresented individuals.