South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s rock star status in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primary race has largely plummeted in the wake of reports detailing his abysmal support among black voters — a core constituency of the modern Democratic Party base. Now, some progressive activists are downright labeling him the epitome of “white male privilege.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Buttigieg has now become a joke in progressive social media circles, where he is routinely mocked for both his failed attempts to garner black voter support and “the swanky locales of his private fundraisers.”
“The acrimony has spilled over onto the campaign trail with rivals increasingly sniping at Buttigieg by name,” the outlet reported. “In a year when Democrats fielded their most diverse slate of candidates ever, some are frustrated by him outperforming women and candidates of color with longer resumes. Compounding that sting is his meager support among black and Latino voters, a core of the Democratic base.”
Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said that Buttigieg’s “gravitas” does not match that of his opponents.
“Of the people at the top of the race … you have three very accomplished people with gravitas,” said Green. “That does not extend to a 37-year-old mayor who won his last race with 8,000 votes.”
Aimee Allison, founder of She the People, said that the hype around Buttigieg is “very hard to stomach” when other candidates are “carrying the hopes and dreams of millions who haven’t been given that.”
Rebecca Katz, founder of the progressive consulting firm New Deal Strategies, simply labeled the South Bend mayor as “the living and breathing embodiment of white male privilege.”
“Right now, people don’t really know who Pete Buttigieg is,” Katz added. “He’s different at the end of 2019 than he was at the start of 2019.”
Many progressive activists have taken particular issue with Buttigieg shifting between the moderate and far-left lanes of the primary race whenever it suits his political purposes. For instance, he first supported “Medicare for All” but now supports the idea of “a government-run public option to compete with private insurers.” When it comes to his college affordability programs, progressive activists felt his talking points were too in line with the GOP.
“Many on the left also got angry when Buttigieg, responding to a voter question in New Hampshire about the federal deficit, said that his party was ‘not known for worrying about deficits and the debt too much, but it’s time for us to start getting into that business,'” the report continued. “He then went on to slam the GOP for growing the deficit under its watch. Liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman tweeted his dismay, wondering, ‘Is Buttigieg just Howard Schultz in disguise?'”
In response to his critics, Buttigieg has touted his other progressive bona fides, including “hiking taxes on the wealthy, raising the minimum wage, and boosting union membership.”
To be sure, this type of infighting among Democrats is to be expected during a primary season. Where Buttigieg faces the greatest uphill battle is winning black voter support. The overwhelming consensus among political pundits is that lack of black voter support may well ultimately cost him in the end.