Left to their own devices, part of me suspects that the far left of the Democrat Party would never pull of wining a general election. Pragmatism is an unknown concept, identity politics and division run rampant, and policy minutia are a wet dream to this crowd. At least, that is my read of things. As 2020 approaches, the number one task is finding a candidate that can win moderates and at the same time press progressive approaches that will address real needs of real people. Then there is also the need to get behind a candidate who can adeptly use the media in a way to counter Donald Trump's media sucking narcissism and constant turmoil. I am not say that ultimately Pete Buttigieg is the one who can meet these requirements, but he surely highlights the inability of other would be Democrat nominees to manage the media as will be needed during the 2020 general election campaign. Former Republican and "Never Trumper" Jennifer Rubin looks at Buttigieg's tour de force on Fox News in a column in the Washington Post. Here are column excerpts:
Pundits arguing that South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg simply cannot be president because his only civilian public service has been at the local level, or that he is heavy on values and persona but lighter on policy, seem not to have learned anything from 2016. President Trump won the Republican primary by stringing together media moments, dominating the airwaves and intensifying his audience’s emotions (anger, resentment, etc.). Buttigieg is testing the proposition that Democrats desperate to take back the White House may admire Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s policy parade but what they long for is someone who can beat Trump and reflect their longing to reassert their values (respect for intellect, empathy, tolerance).Buttigieg, in appearing on Fox News Sunday night, helped his cause tremendously. Projecting the same calm, incisiveness and wit that have impressed other audiences, he won enthusiastic applause and a standing ovation. He created some viral moments that will echo around the mainstream media for days.
Buttigieg accomplished several things. First, he showed how to defend progressive positions and dismantle the right-wing frame for discussing them. On abortion, he had this answer to recent abortion bans: I believe that the right of a woman to make her own decisions about her reproductive health and about her body is a national right. I believe it is an American freedom that should be enjoyed by women in every state. The next president needs to be ready to protect those rights.
The ability to defend Democrats’ values and views effectively, to avoid being cornered by right-wing talking points impresses — and delights — Democratic voters.
Second, going on Fox News, in contrast to Warren (D-Mass.) and others (who had perfectly acceptable moral reasons for shunning the propaganda machine,) reinforced the notion that his political instincts are superior to hers and other competitors. Instead of refusing to appear to denounce hate, Buttigieg used the airtime on Fox to denounce its hateful hosts.
Third, by going on Fox News and winning plaudits, he implicitly made the argument for his own electability. Hey, he can win those people over. Part of his argument is that a religious mayor from the heartland knows the secret sauce for breaking through to working- and middle-class voters in the Midwest. His appearance on Fox News will convince some Democrats that he can.
Fourth, Buttigieg recognized that, in a field of 23 Democratic candidates, holding the media’s attention for a sustained time is nearly impossible for those challenging front-runner Joe Biden. . . . Buttigieg’s answer: Use earned media to create viral moments. These cement in the public’s mind the image of a feisty, witty, super-smart candidate with a Zen-like ability to turn Trump’s anger back against him, making the president look small and childish.
Finally, Buttigieg debunks the notion that Democratic viewers want an angry candidate. They are angry at and about Trump. They pine for someone who can slice and dice him in a way Hillary Clinton never could.
Buttigieg, to be certain, has real challenges. Most importantly, he needs to find support among African American voters who are a critical part of the Democratic primary electorate. He’ll need to show he has some policy plans to avoid looking like a lightweight when he goes up against Warren, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) and others who’ve presented (whether you like them or not) bold policy ideas. That said, he showed Sunday night just how formidable are his communication skills and political antenna.
Others can help you construct policy proposals, but that “it” factor (which Harris certainly has) is either there or it’s not. And, yes, Buttigieg has it.
Joe Darby, a prominent pastor in Charleston, S.C., was discussing the Democratic presidential field with fellow clergymen when Pete Buttigieg’s name came up. A fellow pastor quickly interjected.
“Isn’t that the dude who kissed his husband on TV?” the person asked skeptically, according to Darby.
The exchange highlights a major obstacle for Buttigieg, who’s vaulted into the top tier of Democratic candidates without gaining traction among African Americans, according to recent surveys of national and South Carolina Democrats. But as the mayor of South Bend, Ind., devotes more effort to campaigning for black votes in the South and elsewhere, he will have to break down some resistance over his sexual orientation, particularly among older voters, according to interviews with more than a dozen African American activists, political strategists and clergy, as well as a review of public polling.
Buttigieg and his campaign are well aware of the issue. As he skips from sold-out fundraisers to overflowing rallies around the country, Buttigieg set aside time last week for a smaller gathering of black LGBTQ faith leaders and activists in Houston. Gathered around a glass coffee table, Buttigieg opened up to the group of a dozen about his record with African Americans as mayor in South Bend, Ind. — an area that has generated some criticism — as well as his agenda for black voters and his experience as an openly gay candidate for president, including the challenges he may face.
“He’s white, male and gay, all three of those things are going to create obstacles for various communities — specifically, I think, the white and the gay, for the black community, are definitely going to be obstacles for him,” said Harrison Guy, a Houston-based choreographer and LGBTQ activist who led the discussion with the mayor. “He’s very aware of that.”
American views on LGBTQ rights and issues have moved rapidly in the last decade, and black support for bedrock issues like same-sex marriage has also jumped to a narrow majority in recent polling. But those numbers lag behind the nation: 61 percent of adults (and an even higher share of Democrats) backed same-sex marriage in a recent Pew Research Center poll, compared to 51 percent of African Americans.
“It’s an obstacle in the minds of some. And for others, it’s an opportunity,” said Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist and a 5th-generation member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. “He has opportunity to educate and take the temperature here and chart a pathway forward, because I suspect he will not be the last [openly gay] candidate” to run for president.
“Are there implicit biases that women candidates have to face? Absolutely. Are there biases that a black candidate has to face? Is there implicit baggage that a gay candidate has to face? Absolutely,” Belcher said. “How you inoculate yourself from those biases goes back to how you define yourself and talk about yourself authentically.”
Some of that involves building relationships with individual African American activists and voters to break the ice, which the Buttigieg campaign did in their latest swing through South Carolina, setting up private meetings with black leaders.
Buttigieg’s regular invocation of his marriage and his husband, Chasten, on the campaign trail — usually in the context of his Christianity, “putting his faith on his sleeve” — is also an “excellent way to inoculate himself from that implicit bias about the gay community,” Belcher said.
It’s also a way to connect with those wary voters, and by casting his marriage through the lens of his faith “can bring in those Christians he’s trying to reach,” because “he can say to them, ‘I’m just like you,’ a married person of faith,” said Guy, the Houston activist who met with Buttigieg.
Buttigieg also used a recent speech before LGBTQ activists in Las Vegas to promote empathy between minority groups.
“What every gay person has in common with every excluded person of every kind is knowing what it’s like to see a wall between you and the rest of the world, and wonder what it’s like on the other side,” Buttigieg said at an event for the Human Rights Campaign.
Based on public polling, support for gay rights has grown dramatically in recent years. In 2006, 43 percent of Americans said they would feel enthusiastic or comfortable about a candidate who is gay or lesbian, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. In April, 70 percent said they’d be enthusiastic or comfortable with it, and Buttigieg and his husband appeared on the cover of Time magazine under the headline: “First Family.”
But as a group, black voters still lag compared to the party that gets most of their votes. In particular, Democratic consultants emphasized that it could be a sticking point for older black voters. In 2017, 69 percent of African Americans aged 18 to 29 backed same-sex marriage, but just 40 percent of African Americans aged 65 and older did, according to a Public Religion Research Institute poll.
Buttigieg “understands there are barriers there, and that it’s something he’s going to have to get over,” Guy said. “He didn’t treat it like a photo-op. It was very much about relationship-building.”
One would hope that black voters would comprehend that ANY DEMOCRAT would be better for their rights and interests than allowing Trump to be re-elected because minority voters fail to go to the polls. Yet, in 2016, many did precisely that and the nation has suffered as a consequence.