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Wednesday, June 19
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

OPINION: South Bend natives need to abandon Pete Buttigieg

PETE BUTTIGIEG

I am a proud daughter of South Bend, Indiana, and I believe it is time to leave Pete Buttigieg behind.

Like the many South Bend natives who met Pete’s announcement to run for president with excitement, I grew up with the former mayor as a role model.

One of the chapters in his autobiography, “Shortest Way Home,” mentions a moment he shared with members of the John Adams High School National Honor Society in 2017.

It was my junior year. I was one of those high schoolers, standing around then-Mayor Buttigieg as he ate a slice of pizza in an elementary school library before entering the gym next door. He was putting on a "Know Your Rights" event after the 2016 election that sought to ensure that undocumented immigrants in South Bend were aware of their legal rights and protections. My classmates and I were there to babysit attendees’ children. 

The Buttigieg at that event was the person whose presidential candidacy I was excited about. That Buttigieg helped me realize that each of us can have a positive effect on our community if we find a way to be useful and stick to our principles.

Like many of my friends and early Pete supporters, however, I became unpleasantly surprised as his campaign continued.

His stances and statements are dictated by what might set him apart on stage rather than by any discernible principles. That, paired with his stumbles on racial issues throughout his campaign, such as a police shooting in South Bend that resulted in the death of black resident Eric Logan, might be why he has trouble gaining support from black and brown voters and why polls show his support slipping in Iowa.

His comments about Democrats’ inability to “beat [President Trump] with pocket change” seemed to overlook that small-donor candidates like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are out-fundraising him

Maybe he has taken notice. In a contest announced last month, Buttigieg requested the pocket change he scoffed at, but it came off as a thinly veiled attempt to bring his average contribution down and distract from his high-dollar, closed-door fundraisers. The contest asked supporters to send in small donations of unusual amounts — $1.06, for example — with a prize going to the smallest individual donation.

Buttigieg's stance on tuition-free public college is particularly emblematic of his faulty logic. He often repeats the talking point that the American people should not pay for college for the children of millionaires and billionaires, but his point is misleading.In addition to misrepresenting the purpose of public systems such as education and ignoring that the wealthy often attend private colleges anyway, the talking point hides just how inadequate his plan really is.

According to his website, Buttigieg would only guarantee free public college for families with annual household incomes up to $100,000. Many middle-class Americans, not millionaires and billionaires, would also be shut out.

This issue shows that Buttigieg values boldness in name only , and that he says one thing on the trail and another on the issues page of his website.

Buttigieg, the wunderkind with the impeccable resume, is too smart to believe that a public option for health care, his “Medicare for All Who Want It,” would be successful. The plan does not require the participation of the healthy and wealthy, which is likely to make the insurance program more expensive, according to economist Robert Frank. A single-payer system, on the other hand, would save the nation money by involving all Americans.

Buttigieg is also too smart to believe that his campaign can get away with lying about endorsements from black voters. He either believes that voters are not smart enough to see this pattern or that they will forgive it.

This sort of misdirection is present across his platform, and it doesn’t look like the data-driven, honest mayor I thought I grew up knowing.

We owe it to ourselves, and to the possibly fictitious hometown version of Buttigieg that inspired many of us, to demand the type of honest and consistent candidate that he himself praises in his Profile in Courage essay about Sanders: one who has “the power to restore principle and leadership… and to win back the faith of a voting public weary and wary of political opportunism” rather than one whose stances shift as he reads the room.

Kaity Radde (she/her) is a sophomore studying political science. She plans to pursue a career in public interest law.

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