This article was published on January 21st, 2020
Pete Buttigieg, affectionately referred to as ‘Mayor Pete’, has overcome a slew of obstacles in his path to become the most prominent member of the LGBTQ+ to go this far far in politics. The first as candidate for President of the United States. Unfortunately, unlike every minority before him, Buttigieg has even more to overcome to secure the Democratic nomination in the November square-off against incumbent Donald Trump.
For all those that praise him for everything from his record as a decorated war veteran, to his leadership of a small midwestern town, many others contend there’s a blind spot when it comes to the African American community. He must secure that key demographic group if he is to be force in the fall. HomoCulture delves a bit further to find out if Buttigieg really has the right stuff or is he about to hit his own glass ceiling?
A Rising Star Goes Against the Grain & the Old Guard
As stories of his wine cellar fundraising events hit the mainstream press, the question on many pundit’s lips was whether or not Mr. Buttigieg had the wherewithal to contend with the likes of Biden, Sanders, Warren, and even Klobuchar. They all contested his place of privilege outside, and within, the LGBT community, pointing out that he is the only candidate with less than even senatorial experience. Buttigieg has carved out a way pass that somehow with a message that resonates with enough people to take him this far. Now he’s hit a bump in the road that is impossible to ignore. He has to deal with it head-on if he is to go any further. If he doesn’t, he risks falling by the wayside like Senators Kamala Harris and Corey Booker.
As a minority, can he galvanize voters in the middle of the country, the largely conservative red states? Can he truly pose a serious threat and dethrone President Trump? Or – as many of his detractors point out– is Buttigieg largely benefitting from the sizable disposable incomes of white donors in the LGBT+ community, who tout him as ‘the gay Obama’?
With each successive debate, the Democratic field has thinned out and whitened up. Buttigieg, now the outsider, is however making inroads at each turn. At the start of the new year, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana has made enough noise that he can no longer be a footnote in the race to win the Democratic Party nomination for president. Now his efforts have turned to a community still hesitant to give him any serious consideration. Can he win over the ever-elusive African American community?
The Maverick Versus the Minority
Currently, black Americans are standing firm behind former Vice President Joe Biden, a name they know and trust from his days under Barack Obama’s administration. Yet, as Hillary Clinton can well attest to, assuming it remains in your corner is another thing entirely, and while Biden may be the frontrunner now by most accounts, rules and polls can be broken and misinterpreted. Mayor Buttigieg has heard the critics and is now aggressively going after the black vote, with varying levels of success.
His efforts have not come without controversy.
When Buttigieg aligned his experiences as a gay man with that of the African-American community, many viewed it as incendiary, with one councilman in his own city, Oliver Davis, reminding Buttigeg that their coming out period was not a moment they could choose. This tête-à-tête between the two men expanded to the point that many now contend that Mayor Pete possesses a blind eye when it comes to his place in society. At the end of the day, while he may be a gay man?
He is still a white man.
With that status comes privilege the rest of American society is currently dismantling, one movement and hashtag at a time.
Show Pete the Money!
And show them they have! By fundraising to the tune of $24.8 million dollars in the second quarter of 2019, he made more than any other candidate in the field and cemented his ability to inspire the progressive community. The news shocked the mainstream media and caused other competitors in the race – in particular Senator Amy Klobuchar – to cast some serious shade his way in lieu of his experience and record. But how has he done it? As Warren and Sanders eschew private money, Buttigieg has gone a different route, and he has been called out for it, with asterisks now flying at the side of his efforts at every turn. In one debate moment, Elizabeth Warren noted that a significant amount of Buttigieg’s support came from one of the primary groups she vowed to go after if she were elected – the infamous 1%. When questioned about his fundraising tactics, the skillful lawyer used his considerable debate skills to reply with a response that took the sting off the attack to some degree, but it is still one that cannot be ignored.
The Great White (Gay) Hope – Or Is It Hype?
There are a many in the Buttigieg circle that are super-donors, with many of them powerful gays and lesbians that look like him – young, male, white, and gay. There is a long-storied history of gay white men in America ignoring other minorities within their own community to achieve parity with their straight white counterparts, and in 2020, they are demanding to be heard. As Mayor Pete shows remarkable polling numbers in several key states currently, his camp is working overtime to ensure that he is not known as the great white gay hope, and a candidate that is as inclusive as it needs to – and should – be.