Pete Buttigieg's campaign stop in Mason City on Sunday night hinged on what would need to be done moving forward if he, or any Democratic candidate in the 2020 presidential race, were elected.
He had material suggestions, such as his Medicare for All Who Want It plan to tackle healthcare issues, and he had more philosophical approaches to bolster patriotism and allyship.
During a chat with the Globe Gazette, after the event, Buttigieg got into: some of those more philosophical approaches, whether or not too much hinges on the presidency and if he's ready for the task.
During your speech, you talk about people who don’t feel that they belong. How can you address that feeling, socially, as well as politically, for people who don’t feel they belong because of economic disparities?
Policy wise it’s about making sure that no one is slipping through the cracks. Making sure that people get paid more, a basic thing that would make a big difference. Making sure that we’re able to build up opportunities for people who find that their careers are being disrupted by technology. Making sure that we send a message that we want to build out a sense of belonging for people even if they are they are going through more career changes than before.
That’s one of the reasons we talk about our mental health vision in terms of healing and belonging. That’s very important too alongside the more nuts and bolts things like getting access to apprenticeship training and more access to organized labor which creates a sense of support as well as belonging for so many working Americans.
Does a common ground of values, that you suggest is needed to move forward, exist now?
I think it’s endangered. And I think a lot depends on leadership, in particular presidential leadership. These are values that everyone should be able to get on board with even if we have policy disagreements.
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But that means a president who is really putting the effort into calling us to those higher values and reminding us of that basic touchstone that all of us ought to have in common as Americans. Whether we’re thinking about specific programs such as national service or just the way the president talks. I think that’s a crucial job on the road ahead.
Is too much value, too much hope pinned to the presidency?
I think it’s a mistake to treat the presidency like the only office that matters. We’re on the eve of municipal and school board elections here. So much power, so much leadership, is in local and state offices.
It’s really important to look at the big picture about what we need to do to govern, not all of which breaks down on Republican/Democrat lines. Of course the presidency is colossally important, especially at a time like this, but we can’t act like that’s all that matters in government and politics.
How are you prepared to possibly shift from being a Midwestern mayor to president of an entire country?
The reality is that being president isn’t like any other job. Whether you’re coming to it from Congress or from a mayor’s office or a governor’s mansion, it’s just profoundly different.
But I also think that, among jobs you can have in a government, it’s hard to think of one that sets you up better for the kinds of things that the presidency requires than being the mayor of a city of any size where you have to do policy and lead a population in a certain direction.
It’s not to say it’s easy, by any stretch, but, as preparation goes, I think being a mayor is pretty good.
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