I scoffed at Pete Buttigieg when he announced he was running for president, but as I learn more about him, he seems pretty tolerable for a Democrat. He’s a veteran, he’s a Rhodes scholar, he became the mayor of a mid-sized city before 30, he speaks seven languages, he likes Chick-fil-A, etc. He’s pleasant and well-mannered. He’s a white male, which puts him at a disadvantage as a Democrat in 2019, but he more than makes up for it by being both gay and married to someone who happens to be gay. He’s even inspired headlines from conservative writers like, “Next to Buttigieg, Beto Is a Joke.” Plus, as a Hoosier I feel a certain element of pride in him, even though the only two things I know about South Bend are that it’s adjacent to Notre Dame and it’s nowhere near North Bend or North Bend.
I even learned how to pronounce his name: BOOTY-jay-peg.
But just when I’m starting to like the guy, just when I’m ready to reach across the aisle and say, “Not bad, kid,” he has to go and blurt out something like this:
Don’t let anybody tell you that the other side is the side that’s got a handle on freedom. We are the party of freedom and we shouldn’t be afraid to go out there and say it. pic.twitter.com/2lTcEtoaah
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) March 24, 2019
“I don’t think we need different values. I believe in the values of this party, that’s why I’m doing this. But I do believe we could adjust the way we talk about it just a little bit. And it’s one of the reasons why you always hear the word ‘freedom’ on my lips. We’ve allowed our conservative friends to get a monopoly on the idea of freedom. Now, they care about freedom, but they care about a very specific kind of freedom. Freedom from. Freedom from regulation. As though government were the only thing that can make us unfree. But that’s not true, is it? We know that your neighbor can make you unfree. Your cable company can make you unfree. [LAUGHTER] If they’re telling you who you ought to marry, your county clerk can make you unfree. [APPLAUSE] You’re not free if you’re afraid to start a small business because leaving your job would mean losing your healthcare. [APPLAUSE] You’re not free if there’s a veil of mistrust between you as a person of color and the officers who are sworn to keep you safe. [APPLAUSE] You’re not free if your reproductive choices are being dictated by male politicians in Washington. [APPLAUSE] So don’t let anybody tell you that the other side is the side that’s got a handle on freedom. We are the party of freedom, and we shouldn’t be afraid to go out there and say it.”
I don’t know where Pete gave this speech, but he might be breaking the law because Indiana still hasn’t legalized marijuana. For a guy who speaks so many languages, he needs to brush up on his English.
So freedom means getting things from the government? Freedom means everybody has to approve of, if not actively participate in, your personal choices? Freedom means you put responsibility for your own feelings in the hands of law-enforcement officers? Freedom means you should be able to kill as many babies as you want, for any reason or no reason at all?
“Your neighbor can make you unfree.” Sure, if he locks me up in his basement. Short of that, what in the world does this mean, Pete?
And hold on a second… your cable company can make you unfree? Since when? I know Pete was only born in 1982, but if he’s as well-read as his supporters claim he is, he must know that Americans managed to survive for hundreds of years with no cable companies at all.
Freedom doesn’t mean being free from anything bad ever happening to you. It doesn’t mean being free from fear, or need, or want. Most of the things Pete lists aren’t a loss of freedom. They’re the price of freedom.
As some old dead white guy once said: “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take away everything you have.”
Oh, by the way, county clerks and cops and congressmen are representatives of… government! Well, forget it, Pete’s rolling.
That said, I’m glad at least one of the candidates is talking about these fundamental ideas. Buttigieg is completely wrong about the very definition of the word “freedom,” but it sure beats jumping up on restaurant counters and ranting about the time (now) and the place (America). All politicians are liars, but there’s no need to be obnoxious about it.