I’ve come to realize that Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is the perfect Listen Liberal, dream candidate.
If you read the book you totally know what I’m talking about and if you didn’t, I’ll explain.
Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has come out of nowhere and is suddenly being viewed as a plausible presidential contender. “Mayor Pete” has already been compared to Obama as an orator, a scholar, (Buttigieg is a graduate of Harvard University and Oxford University), and a potential unifier of the Democratic Party and the nation. It has even been hinted that Obama looks favorably on Buttigieg as a semi-anointed successor.
Then there’s the fact that it appears that Mayor Pete is a classic neoliberal reformer, (like Obama), with little awareness of inequality and zero interest in structural economic changes or in rethinking America’s role in the world. In other words, the perfect Listen Liberal dream candidate.
In Listen Liberal, Thomas Frank describes a Democratic Party that has transformed from a working-class party to one that’s dominated by professionals, who view credentials, education and meritocracy as the solution to the vast inequality as it exists in the USA.
Indeed, as Frank points out, the “Democrats have done little to advance traditional liberal goals: expanding opportunity, fighting for social justice, and ensuring that workers get a fair deal. Indeed, they have scarcely dented the free-market consensus at all. This is not for lack of opportunity: Democrats have occupied the White House for sixteen of the last twenty-four years, and yet the decline of the middle class has only accelerated. Wall Street gets its bailouts, wages keep falling, and the free-trade deals keep coming.”
Frank lays bare the essence of the Democratic Party’s philosophy and how it has changed over the years. A form of corporate and cultural elitism has largely eclipsed the party’s old working-class commitment, he finds. For certain favored groups, this has meant prosperity. But for the nation as a whole, it’s been a descent into a much more unequal and savage existence.
By 2016, the widespread unpopularity of all of this shit–the neoliberal, neoconservative, Wall Street and military-industrial complex friendly politics–helped Trump secure an Electoral College victory. Since then the Democratic Party has pretty clearly demonstrated that they would rather lose to Trump with anyone, rather than win with Bernie.
Obama was the perfect candidate for the professional class that makes up the modern Democratic Party, and now Mayor Pete answers the bell as their new champion.