The Politicus

“All politics is personal.”


and that was only one of many memorable lines in one of the most remarkable political speeches I have ever heard.

My wife called me down when Mayor Pete came on stage.  I watched.  I listened.

No, the speech was not on an overarching theme.

It did not offer specific policies.

What it did was lay the ground for a very different kind of presidential campaign.

The line I quoted in my title is key, because it underlies Buttegieg’s approach, which seems based ont the telling of stories to help connect people, which includes making pointed comments about key issues confronting our society.

Hearing the number of times he went “outside the wire” but in the context of the people in his vehicle not caring about his politics, but keeping them safe.

Having three key issues, but expanding their definitions, so that we rightly heard that the greatest security issue is addressing climate change.  He talked about a 1,000 year rainfall and 500 year flood in South Bend, a hurricane in Puerto Rico, floods in Nebraska, and fires in California.  He could have added that climate change is one of the factors driving farmers to flee Central America.

On issue after issue he phrased things in a succinct way that could connect with American people.  Issues that spoke to teachers like me, to women, to people of color, to union members like me, to millennials.

John F. Kennedy told us that the torch had been passed to a new generation.  He was the first President born in the 20th century, born in 1917, succeeding Dwight D Eisenhower, born in 1890, some 27 years earlier and at the time of his leaving office the oldest President we had ever had —  Kennedy was the youngest elected, the 2nd youngest (after Teddy Roosevelt) to serve.  The current president — as well as two of his three most recent predecessors — was born in 1946, about 3 weeks after I was.  Mayor Pete was born in January 1982. 37 ½ years after the current resident of the Oval was born, which would be the largest such gap in history.  Our current Chief Executive would not at the end of this term be the oldest ever —  that would be Ronald Reagan, who was probably at age 77 already showing signs of senility (one reason I have trouble with both Biden and Sanders).  Buttegieg would be the youngest elected and to serve.

The old Studebaker factory was jammed.  I do not know the size of the crowd, but I would say perhaps 5,000 to maybe even 8,000.  South Bend has a bit over 100,000 people. Oakland, where Kamala Harris had her kickoff crowd of about 20,000, has a population of over 400,000.  In otherwords, Mayor Pete’s crowd was proportionally at least as large if not larger than that of Harris.

Is this posting an endorsement of Mayor Pete. Not yet, although I can see my way to supporting him in the primary, maybe even if asked going to work for him.  For one reason, and that is the third of his three points, Democracy.  As I wrote yesterday, I view that as the single most important issue confronting us, because if we do not fix that we cannot fix anything else.

If you did not see the speech, do yourself a favor, find the video online and watch all 40 minutes.

Then you will understand why I say it was one of the most remarkable political speeches I have seen or heard.