Mayor Pete Buttigieg (pronounced “boot-edge-edge”) is just five days younger than our youngest son. If that doesn’t make me feel old, I don’t know what would. But I think he makes up for lack of years in genuine smarts and concrete executive experience. (Mayors and Presidents are both considered executives in their separate domains.) His memoir is engaging and kept me interested every moment.
Buttigieg (I *will* learn to spell this) obviously puts his best foot forward with his stories of life in South Bend and beyond. He covers some childhood and teenage stories, including “townies” versus university kids, since South Bend is also home of the University of Notre Dame. But he moves quickly on to his time at Harvard and as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Seriously, this man is no slouch in the brains department.
After a few years researching grocery prices (snooze!) for McKinsey and Company, he left management consulting for politics. Moving back to Indiana, he ran unsuccessfully for State Treasurer.
In between all of these different endeavors, Buttigieg worked as a volunteer for various campaigns near and far from home. His story is a unique blend of politics, service, and capitalism. After being elected Mayor of South Bend at age 29, he enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 2009. In 2014 he was deployed to Afghanistan, taking an unpaid leave during his first term as Mayor.
Buttigieg has a unique style. He narrates his own audiobook, mostly successfully. Like all of these candidate books, I like hearing his story in his voice. Between the stories, he throws in plenty of policy positions. What I gained the most was a sense of who he is, as a foundation for what he would do as President.
One of the key things I noticed about Buttigieg is his understanding of “otherness.” He was a townie in a university town. At Harvard, he wasn’t one of the rich kids. In the Navy, he was a politician. Plus, he’s a married, gay man who goes to church regularly. In my eyes, there’s something to be said for a Presidential candidate understanding what it feels like to be an outsider, even though he’s still a white guy.
When I first heard about him, I though Buttigieg was probably a flash-in-the-pan candidate. One of those people who runs with no real intention of winning. In fact, I now believe he’s the exact opposite. Mayor Pete wants to bring his brand of Midwestern common sense to the Democratic Party, DC, and the country. He cares about the issues, and is definitely knowledgeable.
He’s all over the news, from The Washington Post to New York Magazine to Trevor Noah’s “getting to know him” segment. All you have to do is Google him, and ten hours later you’ll come up for air. If you’re curious about this millennial candidate, I’d recommend giving Buttigieg’s book a read or listen.