Buttigieg: breaking barriers and bringing belief

Illustration by Blake Fernandez

Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, suspended his presidential campaign last month.

Instead of pointing out every time he messed up or discussing what led to the end of his campaign, it is more important to recognize the historical steps he took by just being in the race.

Buttigieg was the first openly gay presidential candidate who established a level of relevance through his impressive performance at the polls. He single handedly updated who the president could potentially be and identify with. In doing so, he opened the door for future LGBTQ+ nominees.

The Washington Post put it best by stating that “the impact of his campaign extends beyond this election cycle and is about much more than politics or the presidency.”

Surprisingly, most of his support came from older voters with a little bit of support from college students.

“One of the oddities of the 2020 presidential contest is that Buttigieg, the youngest candidate at age 37, draws his lowest support from the youngest voters and is best liked by the oldest,” according to USA Today.

It was shocking to discover this at first. Then, I came to realize that Buttigieg’s proposed policies reflect the old fashioned values that sit with older voters and they seem to view him as the favorite son they never had.

Buttigieg also spent time in the military from 2012-17 as a lieutenant in the United States Naval Reserve working as an intelligence officer, according to Biography’s website. This may explain why some of his supporters fell more in the moderate- to conservative-democrat category rather than being as progressive as supporters of other candidates like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. Buttigieg could relate to many people from across the aisle because of this military experience.

Buttigieg could have been not only the first gay president, but he could have also been the youngest president in history at age 38.

However, his campaign was not focused on LGBTQ+ issues.

At the Feb. 24 CNN Town Hall debate, Buttigieg said, “I’m not running to be the gay president of the United States or the president of the gay United States. I’m out here to serve everybody.”

Not only is this admirable, but it also proves that he doesn’t feel he deserves any different treatment from the rest of the candidates.

The Associated Press quoted Buttigieg’s final speech: “By every historical measure, we were never supposed to get anywhere at all.”

He recognized what he did in the transformation of who a potential president could be and that the progress he made in the race was, indeed, historic.

Buttigieg’s presence in the race has inspired members of the LGBTQ+ community to strive to fight for their dreams in life. His image of youth, unrelenting optimism and hope are refreshing to see in the intense climate within politics.

Considering that his only political experience is what he’s gained in his eight years as mayor of South Bend, his youth compared to other candidates was considered positive. He hasn’t accumulated a vast political resume yet, especially not one that reflects a president. In spite of this, he won the Iowa caucus in February against the remaining presidential candidates, which included four U.S. senators and a former vice president.

He proved that it is not impossible to be successful in the presidential race without having an extensive resume or title that equates to a much larger role in politics. This provides hope for young aspiring politicians and world leaders.

Above all else, it is about time that a member of the LGBTQ+ community ran for a high profile position in the government.

Here’s to hoping for a substantial increase in the diversity of candidates in the next election.