Douglas MacKinnon: Mayor Pete Buttigieg and the traps he faces

While South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has flown out of the gates in an unexpected burst of speed to catch the lead pack of Democratic presidential contenders, he may be about to hit runners’ wall and slow to a crawl as others pass him by.


Because he is making two classic mistakes of presidential campaigns. 


The first being that even when a presidential candidate was absolutely positive he or she was prepared for every single negative aspect of the forthcoming campaign, they were wrong — especially those new to the blood sport masquerading as a primary.

Mayor Pete is now getting his political baptism by fire and the flames are going to get much, much hotter before finally flickering out.

He will either be forged into an incredibly strong candidate by the heat or turned into a molten puddle of what could have been.

There are some signs that he is already starting to melt.

Before he ever gets the chance to square off against President Trump, he is going to have to run an often-nasty gauntlet of other current Democratic presidential candidates…and even one or two from the past.

That’s a fact he just found out after throwing shade at Hillary Clinton for her statement from July 2016 saying “America is already great.”

Team Clinton immediately returned fire and it was clear the young mayor was not nearly ready for the hit.

The greatest threat the mayor faces is not his age, the size of the city he runs, or his overall experience. But rather, it’s if he makes the second mistake of falling into the traps being set for him by some of the zealots on the far-left fringe of his own party.

Those traps are taking the form of being goaded into attacking others with cheap ideological rhetoric to appease the liberal mob.

Buttigieg has already stepped into two of those ideological traps.

The first came when he said, “I’m reluctant to comment on another person’s faith, but I would say it is hard to look at this president’s actions and believe that they’re the actions of somebody who believes in God.”

So…not so reluctant after all.

The mayor has made it clear that he is a Christian. Good for him for not denying or running from his faith as so many on the left have done over the years.

That said, the mayor may want to reflect upon the words of Jesus Christ who said:  “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

Questioning another person’s faith is a line which should never be crossed unless one is looking to throw red meat to the baying hounds.

The next trap Buttigieg seemed to willingly hop into occurred when he went after Vice President Mike Pence at an event hosted by the LGBTQ Victory fund.

Said Buttigieg in part: “If me being gay was a choice, it was made far, far above my pay grade…That’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand – that if you’ve got a problem with who I am – your problem is not with me, your quarrel sir, is with my creator.”

With regard to his “Creator” line, I believe the mayor makes a very valid point. I am a conservative Christian who has always believed we are all God’s children born with the exact same rights. The exact same. To me, gay rights are truly a human right.

But in attacking Mike Pence, the mayor is going after someone who has not only always been highly respectful of him, but a person he has known for years and has praised in the past.

One of the true pillars of our strength as a nation is our belief in, and protection of, religious liberty.

I have no doubt that Vice President Pence would be open to discussing the subject in a very civil and friendly way with his fellow Hoosier. But then, such a discussion may not get the mayor the “progressive” approval and applause he is now seeking.

Today, in the age of social media, micro-aggressions, and perceived insults gone wild, there are very vocal and ultra-partisan constituencies who are blinded by a haze of hate and truly believe the opposition to be their “enemy.”

Buttigieg’s relatively short time on the political stage has shown he can be courteous, respectful, and civil. Unfortunately for him, those are traits seen as a weakness by the far-left.

At times, he has been a voice of reason in a political party going further left by the minute.


If he returns to and stands upon that reason, he could run the distance.

But, if he continues the mistakes of capitulating to the fringe elements of his party for transparent political reasons, he will prove himself to be a typical politician and will become but one more footnote in a long line of not-ready-for-prime-time presidential wannabes.



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