It seems that South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigeg’s winning 2020 strategy is to insult traditional Christians as homophobic bigots and dismiss Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and President Donald Trump voters as an angry, disaffected mob.
According to The Hill, Buttigieg said that Sanders and Trump voters have more of a desire to “blow up the system,” which is what led to their political rise.
“I think the sense of anger and disaffection that comes from seeing that the numbers are fine, like unemployment’s low, like all that, like you said GDP is growing and yet a lot of neighborhoods and families are living like this recovery never even happened. They’re stuck,” Buttigieg said at a New Hampshire campaign stop on Friday. “It just kind of turns you against the system in general and then you’re more likely to want to vote to blow up the system, which could lead you to somebody like Bernie and it could lead you to somebody like Trump. That’s how we got where we are.”
Buttigieg’s comparison of Sanders voters with Trump voters did not go over well with his opponent’s campaign. Immediately thereafter, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), national co-chairman of the Sanders 2020 campaign, called the South Bend mayor out on Twitter for being “intellectually dishonest.”
“Come on @PeteButtigieg. It is intellectually dishonest to compare Bernie to Trump,” said Khana. “Bernie is for giving people healthcare, education, childcare, & more pay. He wants to blow up credentialed elitism — those who reject tuition-free college for all.”
In response, Buttigieg’s communications adviser Lis Smith said that his comments were not intended as a swipe against Bernie voters. “Acknowledging that the system was so broken that voters were looking to .@BernieSanders over the Dem establishment is not an insult, it’s the reality,” Smith tweeted.
On Monday, Buttigieg clarified to Josh Lederman of NBC News that he believes both Sanders and Trump have two radically different philosophies.
“My point is that people have been motivated to want to blow up the establishment. And Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump represent radically different ways of doing that,” the 2020 candidate said. “But I think part of how each of them was able to get some appeal was by speaking to the frustration that so many Americans have with anything perceived as the establishment, anything seen as being committed to the political and economic systems that have been prevailing really for my entire life.”
Earlier last week, the Indiana mayor blasted “Trumpism” in an interview with the Associated Press as “white guy identity politics” that exploits divisions.
“By far the political movement that is most based on identity politics is Trumpism,” he said. “It’s based on white guy identity politics. It uses race to divide the working and middle class. There are a lot of strategies to blame problems on people who look different or are of a different faith or even of a different sexuality or gender identity… It’s a cynical political strategy that works in the short term but winds up weakening the whole country in the long term.”