Before taking part in a Fox News town hall in New Hampshire over the weekend, Pete Buttigieg (pronounced Boot-edge-edge) stopped in central Iowa starting with a house party in Adel on Friday, May 17 hosted by the Dallas County Democrats.
As he’s repeated throughout his 2020 presidential campaign, at his age, his “face is his message.” At 37 years old, the South Bend, Ind. mayor seeks to become the youngest president in American history. On Friday, he continued to lean into a platform to represent the future instead of retreating to the past “that was probably never quite as great as advertised.”
Creating more freedom with healthcare & education
One thing Buttigieg has encountered over the course of the campaign is the hurdle and blessing of a well-decorated portfolio. He’s the first gay mayor of South Bend, Ind., is a Navy Lieutenant that served Afghanistan, holds degrees from Harvard and Oxford, and worked on gubernatorial and presidential campaigns. Buttigieg later spoke to the effect of those many hats as reflective of the country today’s generation that “may well change careers more often than our parents change job titles.”
He said that this generation’s diversity and future roles are reasons he endorses a reform to healthcare that would benefit all, specifically seeking to boost small business owners and young adults.
“The whole idea that our healthcare is tied to your employer or your parents doesn’t really match the times we’re living,” Buttigieg said.
To that end, he also stressed the importance to unstrap people burdened with high-priced medications. Instead, he aims to help create ease of access to certified alternatives and look toward possible imports so the “bottom line” doesn’t inflate for consumers.
He also tied the matter of the student loan crisis into the matter that often leaves recent graduates between the choice of getting healthcare or tending their credit score through loan payments first.
Buttigieg said he is specifically motivated to make sure the government cannot make money off the backs of students looking for greater education, echoing thoughts from Beto O’Rourke in his Adel stop a couple of weeks prior.
“We’ve got to get states to step up and cover in-state tuition better. We’ve got to expand Pell grants to cover the cost of college,” Buttigieg said.
The importance to give even greater mobility for the next generation was later stressed. In line with his competition, he maintained that wages need to be raised to keep up with the cost of living that has risen while income has stagnated over the last four decades.
“If we’re living in a system that doesn’t have good policy to lift us up,” he said speaking more to freedom through finances. “I don’t think you’re free. If you’re not able to start a small business because you’re afraid to leave your old job if it means you’re gonna lose your healthcare.”
Expanding the means of security from a veteran’s experience
During a week which President Donald Trump said to White House reporters he “hopes” America doesn’t go to war with Iran, speculation has mounted. One concerned Dallas County constituent brought up the fear of war with Iran for Buttigieg, who said he believes his military experience as a naval lieutenant in Afghanistan would help guide his decisions.
“It’s not a show. It’s not a game,” Buttigieg said. “You look at the way that [the administration] throw around threats of military force from Venezuela to Iran. And you ask yourself, ‘Does anybody that really understand what’s at stake?’
“One of the reasons I’m running is I think it wouldn’t be a bad thing because there’d be somebody in that office who remembers what it’s like.”
He also made a point that security is not simply about men and women in service overseas or national borders and cannot be claimed by team politics.
“We’ve also learned there’s a lot more to security than the kinds of things I worried about when I was in uniform in the 21st century,” he noted. “Security means dealing with election security. It means being on top of cybersecurity, which a wall isn’t going to be very helpful when it means dealing with security where we have violent white nationalism, sometimes motivating physical attacks in our country.”
In line with a majority of Democratic contenders, Buttigieg further stressed the threat of climate change to national security.
“I don’t think I have to tell Iowa anything about what’s at stake in making sure that our climate is stabilized.” Buttigieg said relating to Iowa’s recent floods. “Climate disruption twice in two years in South Bend had me activating our Emergency Operations Center for extreme weather and flood events that we were told to happen once every 500-1,000 years. Twice. And there could be more where that came from. So let’s treat climate like the security issue.”
Ultimately bringing his point back to his service, he also spoke further on what the country can learn from those serving in uniform.
“I think security is another one of these themes that that has somehow been pulled onto the right as if patriotism belong to a political party, which is certainly not my experience in the military.
“When I was deployed, the people who got in my vehicle and trusted their lives to me, when we were driving somewhere in Afghanistan outside the wire, they did not care whether I was a Democrat or Republican. By the way, they did not care if I was going home to a girlfriend or boyfriend.”
Stopping threats to democracy by changing the structure
On a more macro level, Buttigieg also spoke in favor of a reform and update for the country’s democracy as a whole. While speaking on the complexities of overhauling the nation’s base, he said he would like to see the Supreme Court become “less politicized” and abolish the electoral college in favor of a popular vote.
“Our Constitution has this very elegant quality of a way through deliberation to amend order to make our democracy stronger,” Buttigieg said. “I think we’ve got to talk about those fundamentals in order to advance and make sure that life is going to be better in the future than the past.”
He also staked the claim that the country is “not quite as democratic as we’d like to think” in reference to gerrymandering and the national election process.
“For my dime, we’d be more democratic if we just chose our president in the general election in November by adding up all the votes and giving it to the person who got the most votes. That may sound simplistic but it is in fact how most democracies choose their leaders.”
The South Bend mayor was also in support of more heavily vetting presidential candidates. He referenced his time being vetted for security clearance in the navy as an example. From events during high school to $50 in an England bank leftover from his study abroad, he said the process for a lower position than the oval office was more rigorous than the light amount involved in launching a presidential bid that amounted to a financial disclosure website.
To that end, he said he looks to the nation to change all that.
“We just rely on the judgment of the American people, and by that measure, I think we can do quite well. But of course, that’s up to you all today.”