Pete Buttigieg Is Out Thanks to Black People of the Two ‘Souths’: South Bend and South Carolina

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Although Pete Buttigieg will never admit it publicly, he owes his demise as a Democratic Party presidential hopeful to the black folks of the two “Souths”: the city of South Bend, Indiana and the whole state of South Carolina.

From the start of Buttigieg’s ill-fated campaign, the black people of South Bend (where he served as a twice-elected mayor) have been warning us as to just exactly who this man really is and whom he represents.

Pete Buttigieg is ending his campaign despite impressive showings in the first three essentially white primary elections. But when he had to finally face substantial numbers of black voters, he could barely muster even one percent support.

Buttigieg is the first openly gay candidate of either party to make a credible run for the presidency. And, he was perhaps the most articulate, indeed impressive candidate in the heretofore overcrowded but now rapidly diminishing Democratic field. (Billionaire Tom Steyer threw in the towel just yesterday — February 29 — after barely registering in the same South Carolina primary).

Still, Buttigieg’s eloquence and discipline were not enough to overcome his checkered history and roller-coaster relationship with the black people of Indiana’s fourth largest city (pop. 102,000), South Bend.

And then there is the rather ironic situation that this 37-year-old millennial and Afghanistan war veteran tended to attract more older white voters, while grandfatherly Senator Bernie Sander at 78 captured the energy and votes of Buttigieg’s own age cohort, and just enough black voters to push him to the front of the pack.

Buttigieg won the virtually lily-white Iowa caucuses by presenting himself as more of a “moderate” alternative to Sanders who came in a close second.

For black people, “moderation” on the part of political candidates and officeholders is anathema, for that word, that idea, that practice has generally meant maintenance of the racial status quo. And that means black people will (or should) remain at the bottom of America’s racial pyramid, which includes social, political and cultural life, and most certainly economically.

In New Hampshire, the same dynamic played out, however with Buttigieg and Sanders switching places: “Mayor Pete” clocked in with a close second to Sanders.

But as the race finally moved into more “diverse” states (read: where significant numbers of black people and brown people and red people and yellow people live), i.e., where the electorate looks more like the current and certainly future America will look, Buttigieg struggled to remain even relevant and afloat.

On the other hand, Politico argues that Buttigieg’s “departure from the race reflects the growing pressuring among more moderate Democrats to consolidate in an effort to blunt the rise of Sanders [and] who Buttigieg said was too liberal to be elected.”

But that analysis, as always, ignores the black elephant in the room. Traditional (white) talking heads, columnists, pod casters — the white-dominated punditocracy generally — have always downplayed the importance, often even the presence, of black people in electoral politics in this country. Thus, it is no surprise or shock that the ouster of Buttigieg is chalked up to white folks’ desire for moderation rather than black folks being fed up with being taking for granted.

Well…what about Joe Biden’s dominating landslide victory in that selfsame South Carolina primary. Biden is the personification of “moderation” and has regularly criticized Sanders as being too “radical” and “extreme” for “mainstream” (read: white) America. Yet, black South Carolinians flocked to the polls and handed Biden a resounding victory despite his “moderate” proclivities and bona fides. So, again, why Joe Biden?

I agree with the Breakfast Club’s Charlamagne tha God in that Biden’s support among “old black people,” as he put it, is easily explained by “the Barack Obama effect”:

With a fourth place finish in South Carolina, “Mayor Pete’s” fate was sealed — and, again, black people sealed it.

Up (and out) next: Amy Klobuchar.

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Freelancer since the earth first began cooling. My beat, justice: racial, social, political, economic and cultural. I’m on FB, Twitter, Link, hdyerjr@gmail.com.

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