Pete Buttigieg seems to have lived a charmed life, but as the saying goes, what seems like luck often involves a lot of hard work. From going to Harvard, winning a Rhodes scholarship, serving in Afghanistan and becoming the two-term openly gay mayor of the city he grew up in, it’s obvious he is driven. This controlled and sustainable passion of Pete’s stands out in today’s political climate of grievance and righteous anger. That’s what I want from the next president of the United States, not righteous anger that constantly starts fights, but an unwavering focus on results.
From my perspective, Donald Trump has had one singular focus during his Presidency: his own interest. Trump’s conspiracy mongering and willingness to bend any rule has eroded public trust in the government to historic lows.
Trump spreads the idea that all government is corrupt, it seems, to make himself seem less bad. If Americans come to believe that all people in public service are corrupt, people who are their neighbors and keep us safe as we go about our daily lives, it will break down the fabric that underpins America. A system of laws only works if you trust that everyone else is playing fairly and that you aren’t getting taken advantage of. If you believe it’s all rigged, then why not take advantage yourself? No one wants to be a sucker.
Buttigieg is the best candidate to change this narrative because he draws the biggest contrast to Trump. Buttigieg is a public servant who served in Afghanistan. He is young and looks at the world with a perspective of hope instead of a perspective of fear and grievance.
Buttigieg is a young man, but again that is something that draws me to him and draws a contrast with Trump. I admire Buttigieg’s experience in struggling to accept his identity as a gay man. He presents a positive, inclusive but also realistic vision of America successfully adapting to the future instead of Trump’s message of returning to an impossible past fantasy.
Buttigieg’s policy ideas address difficult issues such as climate change, but they’re more attainable than some of his Democratic rivals. This is important because there’s a danger of disillusionment leading to more deadlock if our politicians continue to make sweeping promises of change and fail to come through.
A great example is his proposed carbon tax. Under Buttigieg’s plan, any emissions of CO2 will be taxed at a standard rate. That’s an easy thing for the government to enforce without hiring an army of bureaucrats, and it’s hard for companies to bend rules that are so straightforward. A carbon tax cleanly gives everyone an obvious motivation to pollute less. Cleverly, the money raised by the tax would be returned to all U.S. citizens in dividend payments. This would help cover higher costs of gasoline or heating houses, but it would leave the choice of what to spend the money on up to individuals. Those payments also help address the criticism that climate change costs fall disproportionately on working class people who have fewer resources to adapt. The added economic activity created by returning the money to all U.S. citizens is an essentially free way to offset the economic hit to the economy as we move to a zero net emission future.
Mayor Pete is an inspiring aspirational figure who has real accomplishments and sacrifices to hold up against Trump’s lies and conspiracy theories. His quiet and thoughtful work ethic is a good fit for Maine.
Ned Swain of Portland is the owner of Devenish Wines.