When Pete Buttigieg entered the presidential race I was a bit surprised. I’d known that name for quite some time, but not for anything substantial. At the time, he was just the mayor of the city where my father’s family resides, and nothing more.
Like his father before him, my dad and his siblings (except for one) attended John Adams High School in the city. His older brother, Jerry, attended Clay High School, which is where Mayor Pete went as well. All of this is to establish that I’m all too familiar with the city, and its history.
When I visited downtown South Bend in January to lay my late aunt to rest, I was pretty concerned with the shape of the town. While new apartment buildings and hotels had popped up, industry had completely died.
Here’s a breif history on how important manufacturing was for the city:
Jack Colwell was a young reporter with a big story. Trade union sources told him that the Studebaker car plant, the beating heart of South Bend, Indiana, was closing down with a loss of nearly 7,000 jobs that would devastate the community.
Studebaker shuttered two weeks after the Kennedy assassination due to falling sales, outdated production facilities and fierce competition from Chrysler, Ford and General Motors.
There were fears that the city might not survive. Walter Winchell, a radio broadcaster, warned: “Grass will grow in the streets of South Bend.”
“And it darned near happened,” Colwell mused. “The whole economy suffered because a lot of the Studebaker workers not only lost their jobs, they lost their pensions and there was a lot of poverty, suicides even. It was a very depressed place and that went on for decades.”
South Bend’s population sank from 130,000 in the 1960s to 100,000 today.
That’s not a new trend. South Bend has been a dying town since Studebaker shut down what seems like a lifetime ago (for most people, it was). Still, the city wasn’t in great shape. Maybe things have drastically changed in the span of 10 months, but I’m willing to bet things remain the same, if not a little worse after Notre Dame’s second loss a few weeks ago…
My grandmother routinely talks about Mayor Pete on our phone calls, and even she has no idea why he’s running for president.
“All he did was change the streets from one-way, to two-way,” she will say, which is pretty accurate.
She’s not alone in her sentiments. Phil Gallam, 29, a digital product designer, said: “I’m on and off about the mayor. He pays a lot of attention to infrastructure but seems to ignore the fact we’ve still got quite a bit of violence in South Bend. He pays attention to the roads but not other issues.”
“I’m in the midst of a job search and there hasn’t been much at all. I haven’t noticed many opportunities around here. There’s been a couple of companies popping up but it’s a tricky moment.”
The South Bend Tribune had this to say about their Mayor:
Long after South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s second and final term ends in 2020, there will be a highly visible reminder of his tenure leading the city.
Downtown underwent a dramatic transformation under his leadership. One-way streets became two-way. Speed limits were reduced. Driving lanes were narrowed. Trees were planted. Decorative brick pavers were laid.
Two-way streets, and colorful bricks… Talk about a legacy that will be hard to live up to…
I’m no political strategist, but for the life of me I can’t figure out what Mayor Pete has done that has democrats enthralled enough to vote for him. Sure, he’s not Trump, but what does he have to hang his hat on in terms of successful leadership?
People point to his military service as evidence that he’d be a good president, but how does that make sense? I know plenty of people who have served in the military, and I don’t want them anywhere near a position of leadership. Being in the military doesn’t automatically qualify one for leadership, but let’s pretend it does.
Let’s pretend Mayor Pete became an exceptional leader while serving our country. What has he done with those leadership skills in the 7+ years as South Bend’s mayor? He planted some trees, and passed legislation to raise property taxes to pay for those trees.
He’s done a little bit more than that, but not by much.
Really, this is just my long winded way of saying that Mayor Pete is only taken seriously by the left because he’s gay.
He went to Harvard, went to Oxford, worked in D.C., served, then became a mayor. He literally has zero experience in any type of position outside of the government.
You want to talk about a “made guy”? Mayor Pete was being groomed for politics since he was a lad volunteering for democratic senate campaigns.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of cities with mayors who are better than Mayor Pete, yet they don’t get the call. We don’t have to wonder why that is, because I’ll say it for everyone: he’s gay.
Identity politics works folks. Mayor Pete is proof. You no longer need a record of success. You just need to be gay, or just not white. Preferably both.