As if conjured up by Hollywood to reveal all that is wrong with our system, Pete Buttigieg now has his moment in the spotlight in the election 2020 season. Being the front man for a web of billionaires, operatives and consultants, Mayor Pete was the beneficiary of an effort to deny Bernie Sanders an outright win in Iowa. Even Saturday Night Live got in on the act with a joke about White Obama, unaware of the peculiar similarities between the two from those viewing the two men from a non-progressive angle. Pete himself is a window onto different trends in America that shows a different picture depending on the voyeur.
A quick view of Mayor Pete is that he is a product a la Obama who is a non-entity for the system to use as a puppet. Just consider the idea of a 38 year old mayor of a small city running for president. That on its surface should inspire guffaws, not 25% of the vote of a swing state. He has no accomplishments. He does have a carefully structured resume that checks boxes for a run at the presidency. He has the elite schools, the consulting gig, and the non-regional dialect. Per an Internet meme, he probably decided on being gay in his 30s because he needed a way to be accepted by Democrats in the 2020s*. Even his military service is a piece of the puzzle. Observers at the 2004 DNC may have witnessed the military pomp and wondered why the Democrats were pushing to hard to say that one had to serve in order to be the president. Politicians like Hillary and Obama paid this no concern. The sociopath would think, “I need this for my POTUS resume”. Buttigieg received a direct commission for a six month stint that provided enough photo ops. It is all part of molding the brand image. His brand being “viable, undeniable choice for president“.
This starts early. People like Pete exist all over America. They are the Gen X and Millenials who took the advice of building a resume to make it to an Ivy. These were the kids who heard that they needed a sport, a club, a volunteer activity, etc. in order to make it to an Ivy, which after the ’80s became harder and harder to enter. They were just larping as the prototypical Ivy leaguer that no admission office could deny. That prototype did do all of those things and had fantastic academic scores. The original version that inspired the resume joined things because they were the type of All American who would become community leaders or national figures. That Gen X and Millenial contingent heard this and saw a checklist. Their volunteering was not out of love of animals or working their church food pantry to help their community but so that they could mention it on their application or write their Common App essay about it.
This faux personality causes quite the reaction. Mayor Pete pulled support from older Democrat voters in Iowa. He is similar to Ben Shapiro. Stop laughing and think this through. Ben Shapiro is a caricature of what a Boomer conservative wants young white conservatives to be. He echoes all their lines, flatters them and is a clean cut looking gentleman. Same for Mayor Pete. Forget the rat faced smile for a moment. Buttigieg is what Boomer liberals want so desperately to be true about the under forty crowd. He mouths all the same neoliberal cliches, he is a non-threatening gay, and he is white!
This is one side of the coin. The other reaction is disgust and even hatred from young left wingers. Mayor Pete’s peer group support Sanders and hate Buttigieg because they know that this is all an act. He is one of them. There is envy, of course, because most of those left wing youths frothing at the mouth about him made all the same moves. They just worked out for Pete. The striver gambit worked for him, and maybe upon reflection about his father’s connections, they see how the game was rigged when they had to settle for Swarthmore, and it is rigged now. No one bats an eye that unknown Pete Buttigieg wrote an oped on Somalia in the NY Times at age 26. These are just coincidences like Lena Dunham having profiles in magazines at age 12.
Pete also came of age, as did these angry white libs, in an era where schools and states beefed up the faux achievement ecosystem to help their students gain admission to premier universities. Commentators said online how Pete had accomplished so much by age 39 while Bernie Sanders had done nothing. They listed the schools he attended. His reign as mayor was thrown in. His time as mayor was a do-nothing experience where he did not even bond with the people during a huge opioid crisis that affected his area. Even Obama learned what Chicago blacks experienced. Pete has nothing but the correct opinions just like these white libs paying $4,000 in rent with 5 roommates in San Francisco as their egg carton empties. These angry white libs have come to believe the pins denoting them All Star Academics ’08, the invites to Eastern Illinois Junior Scholars ’11 or the little ballpoint pens they get a academic conferences are real achievements. They are not. They are just that year’s iteration of that specific criteria the modern school system wants to celebrate.
There is something more visceral. It is why the venom spewed at him from white liberals is so strong. Their anti-Pete memes are vicious. Obama may have represented the token that a professor doted over, but on occasion he would show a flash of smarts. Pete is an empty shell. A nothing, but everything works out for him. Deep down, all white students know that at their high school’s National Honor Society ceremony there was going to be one kid inducted who was a B+ student over A students left behind. They know that same kid received awards at their school that are not decided by grades or test scores, but have the dreaded teacher input. There is one brown-nosing B+ kid who always gets invited to the AP and honors classes only to get left in the dust by everyone else, but he or she collects the designation for his college application. For athletes, this is the kid who laughed at the coach’s jokes and would get playing time despite not being good. There are honest, good children who are eager to please authority figures, but these brown-nosers are not them. The rest of the class knows this kid is only doing it in a Machiavellian manner for some goal that is above their capabilities when played straight, and seethe that the adults fall for it.
As if destroying the meaning of these faux achievements and ceremonies, this kid is hated for being even more phony within the phony infrastructure. Pete’s world salads are beyond Obama’s empty inspirational platitudes because there is nothing coherent to them. Everything about him is phony, except that core personality that those who can see know. Mayor Pete is this brown-nosing figure. Just like that B+ student who would flame out in college or adulthood, Pete Buttigieg is only going as far as the billionaires and consultants want him to go. He cannot operate on his own, and is only a useful pawn to the system. Right now, he is useful as a way to hurt Bernie and seems to be this year’s Rubio to Biden’s Jeb. He will never win statewide in his home state. We can only hope that this is the last we hear from him on the national stage.
*I witnessed Pete’s first state wide campaign. He presented himself as a 28 year old genius, who would make a perfect state treasurer. He lost and lagged all other Democrats in a wave election year where he lost by nearly 25%. He only came out as gay in 2015 after all his elections in red state Indiana were done.