Black and Brown Americans End Buttigieg’s Presidential Run by Robert Covington Jr.

On March 1st 2020, Former mayor and Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg decided to suspend his presidential campaign. His rapid rise within the Democratic presidential conversation was fueled by Buttigieg’s generic appeals to unity, the Democratic establishment explicit courting of white moderates to offset the color based infusion of early presidential candidates of Kamala Harris, Julian Castro and Corey Booker, along with being a white male of privilege and ambition, gave him a chance.

However, Pete Buttigieg’s ability to capture the Democratic nomination was always dead on arrival and the reason was simple, he never took Black and Brown Americans seriously and we knew it.

From the beginning, Pete Buttigieg’s campaign appeared to have a toxic mix of assumption, pandering, insincerity, misrepresentation and exploitation of black people. It seemed that their primary political strategy was to invest heavily in winning the predominantly white states of Iowa and New Hampshire that were the first states in the primary season, and use the momentum from those victories, along with the help of the media, to pressure black and brown people into submission. They didn’t want to earn the black and brown vote, they wanted us to give it to them.

As Buttigieg began to gain more national attention as a possible Democratic presidential candidate, more information was coming out about his past. And when it came to black people, some of it wasn’t good. As a candidate for mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Buttigieg expressed some of the ugliest, racist and inaccurate assumptions that a person could espouse when he said: “Kids” from “lower income, minority neighborhoods” don’t have “someone they know personally who testifies to the value of education.” When I saw the video, my first thoughts were: here we go again, another ignorant white man trying to conveniently explain away centuries of racial discrimination, inequality and racist ideas that is not based in fact.

Black backlash was fierce as commentators and black writers such as Michael Harriot from The Root aggressively pushed back against this racist idea and his article: Pete Buttigieg is a Lying MF, became one of the most read pieces in the United States in 2019. As mayor of South Bend, Indiana, there were other instances of Buttigieg’s handling of situations that were race sensitive that reportedly did not go over well in the South Bend black community. But as we see with so many white moderate politicians, they try to manage racism instead of fighting against it.

Pete Buttigieg and his presidential campaign time and time again oozed manipulation and arrogance. They insultingly devised what they called “The Douglass Plan” which was inappropriately named after one of the greatest freedom fighters and Americans that this country has ever produced, Frederick Douglass. But as Ryan Grim in his Intercept piece details, the plan was poorly constructed, misappropriated sponsors and black input was minimal. It should have been called: The racial pandering plan.

Pete Buttigieg and his campaign had mixed results (won the Iowa caucus, which was poorly run) and lost New Hampshire. Now the Democratic primary was turning to places that had a much larger base of Black and Latino voters, Nevada and South Carolina. Going into those contests, notwithstanding the Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders combination of name recognition and impressive ground game, Buttigieg ‘s fate was sealed due to his inability to appear sincere and genuinely interested in our communities. Buttigieg ended up with 2 to 7% of the black and brown vote in those states.

In many ways it is poetic justice that black and brown Americans were the primary reasons why Pete Buttigieg ended his presidential campaign. You shouldn’t be rewarded for running a campaign of old playbooks that take our vote for granted. You shouldn’t be rewarded for trying to sound like Obama with calls for hope and unity when your campaign didn’t take the time to learn what our needs are.

Pete Buttigieg is very young in political terms, has garnered national recognition and intellectually, a very smart man. Buttigieg also appears to be a decent man who genuinely wants a better America. I don’t know what his future holds, but if he desires to hold high office in some way in the future, I really hope he looks inward to find the agency to learn from this failed presidential run and come back with the intent of listening, empathizing and understanding the Black and Brown experience in a way that fuels his humanity, policies and values instead of calculating ways to ignore our concerns.

Follow me on twitter: @robcovingtonjr



Political and Social Writer

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Robert Covington

Robert Covington

Political and Social Writer

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