Maggie Connolly ’21
As a Holy Cross student from the Midwest, I am seen as a borderline foreigner in Massachusetts. Being from Indiana can make matters even worse; most of the time people ask me if I am from the south, or what the weather is like where I live. The only two things people recognize from Indiana is Notre Dame, the university just north of South Bend, or Mike Pence, previous governor and now Vice President of the United States. Interestingly enough, there is another name on the rise in Indiana in the realm of politics: Pete Buttigieg, who happens to be the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
Over Christmas break, my mom started sending me links to articles about Buttigieg’s campaign and sat me down to watch his CNN town hall. My sister and I spent days making fun of her for sending us pictures of his dogs and thousands of podcasts and articles about him. Despite the amount of those articles I ignored, the ones I have been reading over the past few weeks as the candidates have become more defined have left me intrigued. A young, gay man who is the mayor of a city in the Midwest and values faith and religion runs for president and it is hard not to be, in my opinion.
One of the most interesting things about “Mayor Pete,” as the public has taken to calling him, is that he is both a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and is a follower of the Christian faith. Buttigieg uses this to his advantage in his speeches, and often uses it to respond to comments from fellow Hoosier and Vice President, Mike Pence. Pence is known for his anti-homosexual rhetoric, most of which is grounded in his faith and religious beliefs. Buttigieg pushes back on these ideas and even said, “If you have a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator,” (USA Today). Buttigieg’s interesting and fresh views on religion, a topic many left-leaning politicians shy away from or avoid almost altogether, is a new way to look at religion through the lens of liberal politics. This is a candidate that uses and interprets religion openly, but the difference between Buttigieg and Pence lies in how inclusive religion becomes when discussed in politics.
As much as I am a firm believer in secular politics, I find Buttigieg’s views on religion important and relevant. He does not use his beliefs to guide his views on or plans for policy. Instead, he discusses it as something he is passionate about and cares about, and as something he feels has been misused in the world of politics. His beliefs are rooted in the basis of Christianity that I was taught as a child, by both my parents and the Episcopalian church. Although religion varies vastly across the United States, this candidate’s take on the subject includes everyone who desires to be in the narrative of Christianity, something we as a nation have been lacking in politics in recent years.
Outside of religion, Mayor Pete supports single-payer systems for health care, pulling troops out of Afghanistan, an easier pathway to citizenship for immigrants and universal background checks for those who want to obtain guns. Although many, if not all of these stances are fairly standard for Democratic candidates, his rhetoric is all about uniting the people in times of polarized politics and focuses on the everyday lives of all Americans and the freedoms they need to succeed in our society, not just the ones who look, think and act the way he does. Although it is early in the race, 2020 is closer than we think. It is clear Pete Buttigieg is gaining traction at the beginning of this campaign season and is one of the many Democrats to watch in the primaries. I do not know how I will be voting come 2020, but Mayor Pete is quickly climbing to the top of my list.