So far, only 3 of the 57 constituencies (50 states, DC, 5 territories, and Democrats Abroad) have held nominating contests.
Bernie Sanders has been breathlessly declared the “front-runner,” despite having won only 45 of the 2,268 Pledged Delegates that he would have to win to secure the nomination outright. That is a mere 2% of what is needed. That compares to Pete Buttigieg’s total of 25 Pledged Delegates, or 1.1% of the total needed.
It seems awfully premature to declare that Bernie has the nomination in his grasp. Remember, it’s all about delegates, not about “states won” or any other irrelevant metric. Even then, in terms of delegates, Pete has won one state (IA), Bernie has won one state (NV), and they tied in the third (NH).
Pledge Delegates, State By State (source: New York Times)
(Pledged Delegates Needed to Win Nomination outright: 2,268)
Now, back to more substantive matters. As I have written before, I think it is important to listen to Pete – and to read him – in order to take the full measure of the man.
I made the same recommendations about Barack Obama, going so far as to direct my readers in a 2011 Obamagram (#55) to a book entitled Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition. It was written by Prof. James T. Kloppenberg, a specialist in the field of intellectual history who was then chair of the History Department at Harvard. http://www.obamagrams.com/group-7/55-reading-obama/
Kloppenberg has recently written a similar, deeply intelligent article examining original-source evidence of the decades-long development of Buttigieg’s political philosophy. https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/reading-buttigieg A former Grinnell College president and friend just alerted me to it.
I cannot do justice in this space to Prof. Kloppenberg’s sweeping article. But, here is a sampling to encourage you to delve into it yourself.
…the big surprise [in this Democratic primary] has been the meteoric rise of a formerly unknown newcomer, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who seemed to come out of nowhere.
Except that he did not. I have known Buttigieg since he was an undergraduate at Harvard. I taught [him] in two classes during his senior year…He was a frequent visitor to office hours, and seeing him two or three times a week during nine months meant that we became pretty well acquainted. We stayed in touch after he graduated…
Since Buttigieg launched his campaign for the presidency last year, I have read or reread much of what he has written, at Harvard and since…
I required [students] interested [in my courses] to write an essay explaining why…and to meet with me…
…the final sentences of [Pete’s] essay are intriguing.
The importance of understanding American social thought also extends beyond my education itself and [I plan] to work in politics…Knowing the intellectual context of familiar events in political history is essential…if I am to stand my ground convincingly and seriously in the political present…
[In my course,] the question that engaged Buttigieg more than any other [was:] How could Americans unite politically when American culture was becoming increasingly polarized? [emphasis added; notice how that is still a central theme of Pete’s campaign today]…
In his 2003–04 Crimson [the student newspaper] columns, Buttigieg’s running commentary on political developments eerily foreshadows our situation in 2019–20…
[He] observed that the Democrats so far had offered only “a complaint, not an argument.” They needed instead a compelling positive program to unite the nation…
I concluded [my] letter [of recommendation for his Rhodes scholarship] with a judgment that still rings true to me.
I admire his talent, his agility, and his devotion to public service…He unquestionably has the capacity to excel at Oxford and afterwards. He thinks clearly and writes beautifully. Beyond his obvious talent, he has a backbone. It is his strength of character, the depth of his democratic convictions, that will make him a forceful presence in American public life…
Buttigieg followed a well-worn path of Rhodes Scholars at Oxford, studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics…he was trying to tie together theory and practice…
Nothing about Buttigieg’s glittering résumé incenses his many critics on the left as much as his time with McKinsey…In his memoir, Buttigieg explains he had been prepared for a career “in public service, inquiry, and the arts, not business. But I knew that I would have to understand business if I wanted to make myself useful in practice…”
Attending Anglican services at Oxford…he remained convinced that the Gospel message enjoins us to attend to society’s outcasts rather than celebrate or defend the wealthy and prosperous…
One of the striking features of Buttigieg’s hundreds of campaign appearances has been their consistency… he lays out his own vision of a nation committed less to individual success and unregulated free enterprise than to the values of compassion, strength, and morality that he articulated almost two decades ago…[That] also helps explain the uneasiness of many young people on the left when they hear Buttigieg use that language rather than Warren’s or Sanders’s calls to battle…
The most durable goal of American democracy has always been the common good, not the rights of individuals or the good of particular segments of the population. Buttigieg shares that commitment [emphasis added]…Yet that ideal is deeply rooted in American history. When skeptics express their concern that a thirty-eight year old has the experience necessary for the presidency, I remind them that another champion of the idea of the common good, James Madison, was thirty-six years old in 1787, when he played a pivotal role at the Constitutional Convention and wrote his perennially influential essays in The Federalist. Youth does not necessarily mean immaturity, nor…does good judgment necessarily come with age…
Like Obama, though, and unlike the most strident of his critics on the left, who see Buttigieg as nothing more than a moderate who lacks convictions, he understands that hatred and intransigence are not the cure for what ails American politics. They are the disease [emphasis added].
By “reading Pete”—just like “reading Obama” – you will see why I am so firmly in Pete’s camp.
Please, as always, pass it along.