If Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana were to become president of the United States, he would be the youngest U.S. president in history at only 37 years old. He would also be the first gay president. Buttigieg, who is the son of a Maltese immigrant and grew up in the town he’s now the mayor of, plays the piano and guitar and is proficient in English, Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, Norwegian, Dari Persian, and French. He graduated from Harvard College and then from Pembroke College, Oxford, as a Rhodes scholar. Just a few years later, Buttigieg served as an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve, attaining the rank of lieutenant. He took seven months of unpaid leave from his position as mayor when he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014. He received the Joint Service Commendation Medal for his work in counterterrorism. Beyond these credentials, Buttigieg is a committed Christian, an eloquent and likable speaker, has a nearly spotless political reputation, and managed to raise 7 million dollars in the first quarter of his campaign.
Buttigieg’s critics often point to his lack of experience, but as the mayor’s website states, “Pete has more years of government experience than the president, more years of executive government experience than the vice president, and more military experience than anybody to walk into the Oval Office since President George H. W. Bush.” Elected in 2011, then reelected in 2015, Pete Buttigieg is the Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana, a state that is generally regarded as primarily Republican. One of his well-known projects as mayor has been the “Vacant and Abandoned Properties Initiative,” a program that repaired and reused properties across South Bend. Between 2013 and 2016, Buttigieg also launched an urban development program which made streets safer, creating more two-way roads, wider sidewalks, and bicycle lanes. The success of this program has been credited with stimulating private development in South Bend. During his second term, Mayor Pete became highly involved in the controversy over the Indiana Senate Bill 101, which was criticized for allowing open discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. He was a lead opponent and came out as gay shortly thereafter. Though he feared this might cost him his reelection as mayor, Buttigieg won the election with 80% of the vote.
However, this is not to say that he has never had experience with failure. He lost both the 2010 race for Indiana State Treasurer and the 2017 race for chair of the Democratic National Committee. Nevertheless, early 2019 brought the announcement and launching of Mayor Pete’s Democratic presidential candidacy. Recent polls have put him in the running alongside more established 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, such as Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
Many Democrats find his political positions very appealing. Buttigieg is hoping for the abolition of the Electoral College, a United States group of electors that many people believe is outdated and harmful. Its impact can result in someone becoming president even if their opponent won the popular vote. He also believes in better single-payer healthcare, a type of universal healthcare that is administered through a single public system and paid for with tax dollars. Right now, many Americans cannot afford healthcare and often end up with huge medical bills. Mayor Pete is also pro-choice, stating that . Additionally, Buttigieg is a firm believer in climate change. He would renew the United States’ commitment to the Paris climate agreement, an accord that only thirteen countries in the world have not signed. Furthermore, he is a proponent of the Green New Deal, which is sponsored by House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Mayor Pete supports Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and an easier pathway for immigrants to become citizens. He would also pass a federal law making the discrimination against LGBTQ+ illegal. At this early stage, however, his campaign relies heavily on big ideas rather than the specifics of what he would do as president. Voters hope to see more specific policy ideas as Buttigieg’s unlikely campaign progresses.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg would surely make some big waves as president, but maybe it’s true that, as his slogan goes: “It’s time for a new generation of American leadership.”
His husband, Chasten Buttigieg, is a middle school teacher. He would be the country’s first ever First Gentleman.
Mayor Pete raised $700,000 for a nightly lights display along South Bend’s St. Joseph River trail as public art.
Mayor Pete’s last name is pronounced “BOOT-EDGE-EDGE.”