With Fresh Eyes

A New Voice

Editor's Note: The political views in this column should not be interpreted as being endorsed by the management of The Examiner/Muskegon County Legal News nor its parent company.

Pete Buttigieg holds an impressive professional and personal resume. He is the 37-year-old Phi Beta Kappa Harvard grad, Rhodes Scholar, Afghan war veteran, South Bend mayor who announced for the presidency on April 14. He is proficient in eight languages. He is a gay man married to his husband Chasten. They have two shelter dogs. He is an accomplished pianist. Before his foray into politics, Mayor Pete worked at McKinsey and Company, a prestigious management strategy consulting firm. His election in 2011 made him the youngest mayor, at age 29, ever elected in an American city of over 100,000 population. He was re-elected in 2015 with 80% of the vote. He has realized much in his 37 years, resulting in an inquisitive mind and worldly view. He is, though, still deeply rooted in his native Midwest, which has inspired the values he embraces.

His presidential candidacy helps elevate the political discourse to a higher plateau with an appeal to decency, an appeal to normalcy. Mayor Pete is articulate, reasoned, calm and compassionate. His message is a vision of possibility, one which is forward-looking and optimistic. That vision and that demeanor stand in sharp contrast to the stagnant and vengeful ways of the current White House resident. After a town hall appearance, Mayor Pete was characterized as “crisp, thoughtful and relatable.”

For his candidacy announcement, Pete Buttigieg chose a site in South Bend on which a Studebaker factory once stood, shuttered since the early 1960’s. Under his leadership, that factory now houses a data storage company. Such revitalization has been a key objective in his time as mayor, declaring “nothing like Studebaker will come back, but our city can, if we have the courage to reimagine the future, so we must look ahead to new technologies, rather than a nostalgic look back.” He represents a new generational energy and an illuminating call for change. 

In his book Shortest Way Home, Buttigieg charts his journey from South Bend to Harvard to Oxford to Chicago, with a return to his native city as its mayor in 2011. He interrupted his mayoral duties with a military deployment to Afghanistan in 2014. He served in the U.S. Navy Reserves from 2009 to 2017. In his eight years as mayor, South Bend has transformed from an aging rust belt city to one regaining its economic vitality. A rebirth of the downtown area, an aggressive effort to upgrade the housing market and an increase in the core city’s population have marked his tenure.

Pete Buttigieg has emerged as a fresh voice which could be the antidote to what ails us. Take, as one example, contrasting statements by Buttigieg and Trump on the topic of climate change. Buttigieg, during his declaration speech: “And let’s pick our heads up to face what might be the great security issue of our time, climate change and disruption. No region of this country is immune to that threat. We’ve seen it in the floods of Nebraska, the tornadoes in Alabama, the Hurricane in Puerto Rico and the fires in California.” Trump, in Ohio on April 13: “Hillary wanted to put windmills all over the place.” Mocking the idea of wind energy, he added, “Let’s put up some windmills. When the wind doesn’t blow, just turn off the television darling, please. There’s no wind, please turn off the television quickly.”

No, Mr. Trump, it’s time for you to turn off the nonsense. It’s time for a new voice.

Contact Rich at richmskgn@gmail.com